Olivier Cohn, Benoît Lamezec, Carl Michel, Françoise Houdebine and Pascal Visitanier touched upon the subjects of new behavior, customer segmentation for commercial accommodations, and the marketing strategies used to reach customers during the last edition of the Global Lodging Forum.
The new generations arrived on the market with different expectations, but older generations are also evolving and looking for new tools. This customer profile is quickly adopting new technology, particularly booking via mobile. Technology is thus expanding to the entire clientele spectrum.
Price is a very important element in our customer relations as it is one of their priorities. To get beyond it, we must work on the relationship we have with clients from reservation to post stay. We must understand the customer in order to identify the right time for the right message.
We must be able to offer digital services to our customers, but particularly to our collaborators, so that they can free up time to develop good relations with our guests.
Françoise Houdebine, VP Sales & Marketing Louvre Hotels Group
Our customer profile is currently undergoing a change for different reasons. The new generations that come to our hotels, especially Millennials, are extremely important. They currently represent 35% of employees across all markets, and this figure should reach 75% in 2020, or 50% of business travelers. The new generations are the first to adopt new trends and new products. They are influential, not only among themselves, but also across generations.
We must understand how our brands can interact with these new generations. For example, there is a great deal of porosity between the business and leisure worlds, obliging us to reinvent our services. These generations are very involved, and want to see brands that share their values and take their feedback into consideration to improve their supply.
Benoit Lamezec, Director Marketing & Distribution B&B Hotels
Digital is not a tool, but a language, and there are no digital strategies, but strategies to adopt in a digital world. The real subject we must work on is data collection about our customers, how to find it, capture it and use it. New technological tools means customers are increasingly impatient, require personalized and practical information and value for money.
Digital tool users have become contents creators, and the relationship we have with consumers or prospects can only happen if it is a part of this logic. The experience that we offer must rely on real-world fundamentals, because it will be checked and shared. The user is an actor and it is necessary to interact with him or her in complete transparency. The brand's true values must be reflected daily.
Carl Michel, Board Member StayWise
In order to meet the expectations of Generation Y, it is necessary to create large social spaces because they are very connected. The are social not only in their increased use of smartphones and other mobile devices, but also in terms of their expectations from interactions, particularly when traveling.
The real challenge is to know how we can reach these clients, whether they are Generation Y or Z, who were born at the same time as these new technologies and who trust their friends, bloggers, and online comments more than brands. We need to have a two way relationship with the new generations. We do not need to do marketing; we need to let them do it for us through the contents they share. It takes time and money to have a steady relationship with our clients, so it is easier to let them carry out exchanges for us.
Pascal Visintainer, Commercial Director Groupe Lucien Barrière
The luxury hotel segment has not been spared by changes in customer behavior, indeed, sometimes it is one step ahead. With the rise in new technology, today's customer has more power than ever before. Hotel customers are quick to change hotel or brand when they find a better offer elsewhere. I think the traditional aspect of the hospitality industry can be compatible with these new changes because it continues to be about serving the client.
Consumer segmentation is no longer applicable because each client is unique, and we must be able to speak to them at the right time and in the way they want to be approached. Therefore we must enter a dialogue with them prior to their stay, and this takes a lot of time, technical expertise and accumulated data.
We must try to stop viewing things the way we learned at school and through our experience; the time has come to take risks in terms of marketing, because today this is what pays.
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