SOURCE: Aberdeen Group

Aberdeen Group

October 27, 2009 10:00 ET

Top Hospitality Performers Reveal How They Improve Guest Experience

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - October 27, 2009) - The top pressure hospitality organizations face in upgrading the guest experience is high service level expectations, according to the Aberdeen Group report "Winning Strategies for Upgrading the Hospitality Guest Experience." Between August and September 2009, Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company (NYSE: HHS), surveyed 81 hospitality organizations to determine how leading hospitality organizations are improving the guest experience through upgrades to customer- and employee-facing technologies.

"The bulk of today's consumers, simply put, are looking for more 'bang for their buck.' With the proliferation of the online channel and comparison websites, hotels and resorts need to find ways to attract customers short of simply offering the lowest price," says Chris Cunnane, chief author and senior research associate, Aberdeen.

In response to these pressures, hospitality organizations have identified "improving response to customer feedback and providing a low-cost alternative to meet customer expectations" as their top strategic actions. "Leading hospitality organizations are also taking a closer look at customer behavioral dynamics when implementing guest experience related strategies," says Sahir Anand, co-author and research director, Aberdeen.

The top capability to emerge from this study is visibility into service and product allocation per customer. "In a hotel or resort, this equates to proper staffing of the concierge and front desk to answer questions, fulfill needs, and provide guidance within the property. For restaurants, this includes proper host station coverage, table service coverage, and bar coverage. By providing proper visibility into service allocation, organizations can adjust staffing levels based on the current and forecasted customer levels. This visibility can be achieved by utilizing reporting capabilities from workforce management, reservation management, and revenue management applications," says Cunnane.

Aberdeen data has shown that a proper mix of employee-facing and customer-facing technology upgrades can have a significant impact on the guest experience. Aberdeen's analysis of leading organizations demonstrates that these companies have placed an increased focus on:

--  Utilization of self-service kiosks. The self-service kiosks allow
    guests to control many elements of their experience including reservations,
    concierge services, and check-out.
    
--  Implementation of a CRM system. A CRM system allows the organization
    to capture customer data such as visit frequency, purchase history,
    activity history, as well as demographic information.
    
--  Adopt an online training portal. This allows for proper training for
    new hires, advancing employees, or preparation for employees who are moving
    to a new department. It also allows employees to share ideas, best
    practices, and suggestions.
    


All of the above requirements, amongst others, are part of the winning strategy for upgrading the guest experience.

A complimentary copy of this report is made available due in part by the following underwriters: HP and Microsoft. The Hospitality publication partner for this report is Hospitality Net. To obtain a complimentary copy of the report, visit: http://www.aberdeen.com/link/sponsor.asp?cid=6100.

For additional access to complimentary Retail Research, please visit http://research.aberdeen.com/index.php/-retail

About Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company

Aberdeen is a leading provider of fact-based research and market intelligence that delivers demonstrable results. Having benchmarked more than 30,000 companies in the past two years, Aberdeen is uniquely positioned to educate users to action: driving market awareness, creating demand, enabling sales, and delivering meaningful return-on-investment analysis. As the trusted advisor to the global technology markets, corporations turn to Aberdeen™ for insights that drive decisions.

As a Harte-Hanks Company, Aberdeen plays a key role of putting content in context for the global direct and targeted marketing company. Aberdeen's analytical and independent view of the "customer optimization" process of Harte-Hanks (Information - Opportunity - Insight - Engagement - Interaction) extends the client value and accentuates the strategic role Harte-Hanks brings to the market. For additional information, visit Aberdeen http://www.aberdeen.com or call (617) 723-7890, or to learn more about Harte-Hanks, call (800) 456-9748 or go to http://www.harte-hanks.com.

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