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The Next Evolution of Personalization: Know Your Guests Better Than They Know Themselves

In every person's life, there's at least one friend, family member or colleague who could probably say, I know her better than she knows herself! or I can read him like a book.

How do you get to know the people you're close to that well? Without even realizing it, you're observing them throughout their daily lives. Researchers know that the human mind interprets far more information than we're consciously aware of, and that our glances, tones and motions convey a lot of information about our emotions and our interactions with the world around us.

The better you know a person, and the more closely you work or live with them, the better you become at reading that person's moods and knowing (for example) how he's going to react to bad news, or what kind of gift she'll love on her birthday.

With those truths in mind, consider this: The key to overcoming the challenge of achieving true hospitality through personalization is emerging technology that will bridge the gap between guesswork and knowledge. Living or working with a person gives you the chance to absorb that person's likes, dislikes and moods. Machine learning is already finding patterns in massive amounts of data, enabling us to predict how entire segments of customers will react to market changes.

Sabre's new report, Consumer Mega-Trends Impacting Hospitality in 2016, explores several emerging trends identified by TrendWatching. It details how hoteliers can leverage these trends and prepare for what customers will expect from them in the near future.

Every hotel guest has an individual world of preferences and personal tastes. Personality and experience help shape our desires, especially for those things that make us feel comfortable and happy. The challenge for hoteliers is to be proactive instead of reactive, to be able to read what guests are going to want instead of waiting for them to make their desires known. This emerging trend of guest-driven personalization is summed up in a new term, Youniverse – that individual realm of consumption where a guest's preferences and tastes reign.

The key to being a part of a guest's Youniverse is to offer a massively personalized or customized experience or product, or by allowing guests to express themselves and their personalities. Imagine the impact on customer satisfaction, brand identity and customer loyalty if your hotel can go beyond "surprising and delighting" guests to actually helping them learn something about themselves.

It's not crazy to believe that such moments are possible, especially when today's consumers are allowing brands to become as intimately connected with their lives as those friends and family who can "read them like a book." Consider products like Amazon's Echo, the voice assistants on iPhones and Android devices and the massive amounts of personal thoughts and feelings shared on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. Your guests are already accustomed to sharing their personalities. New technology is making it easier to analyze that data and respond to guests' desires on-the-fly.

Machine learning also holds hope for one of the problems today's consumers face: choice paralysis. Bombarded with so many options for products and services, consumers find it hard to decide which to select. Technology that understands a guest's personality and desires can help by offering guests the services or amenities that they've already shown they want.

Not that long ago, the thought of being offered a new snack, or a movie recommendation, based solely on your tastes and prior choices could have seemed far-fetched. Today, such personalized suggestions are part of everyday life. Imagine a world where hotel guests are offered that same level of anticipatory, personalized service – seamlessly, and as part of a guest engagement strategy that uses technology to be proactive, not reactive. That's the Youniverse the hospitality industry must be ready to explore.

For insights into this and other emerging trends hoteliers need to embrace in the coming year, click here to download your copy of Consumer Mega-Trends Impacting Hospitality in 2016.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hugh_Fisher_SHS_-_thumb_180px.jpg
Hugh Fisher
Data Analyst
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