I want to share two very simple but powerful ideas that could radically transform the way the hotel industry utilizes measures like the hotel guest satisfaction index, web analytics, etc.
1. Taking ‘measurement’ beyond just numbers
We all know that to be truly hospitable, one must go beyond just providing the necessary physical comforts that hotel guests and travellers demand. More often than not, what keeps guests coming back again and again are not the features and amenities…but the relationships and memories (after all, human beings ARE 80% emotion and 20% intellect). So perhaps it is time to step beyond the easily quantifiable attributes of a stay and start measuring actual guest ‘happiness’. When was the last time you asked a hotel guest about what made them really happy? Guest satisfaction scores and indexes often fail to consider the true value that employee-guest relationships bring to the table. Plus, since guest satisfaction depends on your employees being happy…how many hotels do you know that actually go beyond the typical corporate HR mumbo-jumbo and actually understand what makes their people tick? Why do they come to work? What makes them happy? What would they like to achieve…and can we help them get there?
A great video to watch for some inspiration is Joie de Vivre Hotels CEO Chip Conley’s TED talk. He touches on a variety of great points… from the move by countries towards measuring National Happiness…rather than stale old GDP numbers…to what he learnt from a housekeeper that has worked for him for over 2 decades.
Measuring happiness may sound like a pipe dream…but we’re already on the way. Social media is a great way for the hotel guests to let brands and companies know really what they think. Already here, analytics companies are scrambling to perfect the art of sentiment measurement. I’m sure that given enough time, semantics and creativity we’ll get there with the technology to measure the ‘unmeasurable’…but what’s really needed to make this happen though, is a shift in thinking and underlying corporate culture at hotels.
2. Gaming your way to better analytics
Games are more powerful that one would imagine. They have a remarkable way of drawing us in, teaching us and entertaining us. Gaming is also increasingly creeping into everything we do… from traditional console & PC gaming to the world of social networks and even the offline world. Games tend to bring out the competitive streak in most of us – I’m inclined to think Frequent Flier and Hotel Loyalty Program Junkies will testify that the thrill of getting to their ‘million’ points (or similar goal) is just as satisfying (if not more) than the actual accompanying benefits.
Though a bit on the extreme side, I loved the idea shared by game designer Jesse Schell (in his DICE summit talk) that games will eventually permeate into every aspect of real life – from scoring points for seemingly mundane everyday actions (like brushing your teeth) to point subsidies for making the right choices everyday (like using the bus to be more ecological) and even gaining direct benefits from allowing marketers to reach out to you with their messages. Watch the video below (a little long so you may want to skip ahead):
I think we can also apply the gaming idea to the way we deploy and utilize web analytics (and various other things, for that matter!). Instead of purely focusing on clickstream analysis and traffic stats for your hotel websites, why not try to figure out the actual value of those who visit your site? The act of simply assigning points to the actions users perform on your site can dramatically change the way you identify user engagement levels and the types of users based on behaviour. For example – assign a score to your hotel website actions or success metrics like viewing hotel details, making a booking, filling a hotel loyalty program subscription form, refer a friend function, etc in the order of their importance. Then, as users visit your hotel website, they accumulate points for their actions…the higher the score, the higher the desired engagement. You can then match these user segments to valuable insights like Average Room Rate Booked (are high engagement site visitors also big spenders?), Geo-Source (how does engagement vary by country or city), etc… these are all things that can ultimately help you understand your customer better and improve your hotel website and internet offering.
There we go… two very simple ideas, but ones that can be re-purposed and applied at will (preferably creatively!) for happier employees, happier guests and higher profits for hotel owners.