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Multi-Pronged Approach To Stay Ahead In The Travel And Hospitality Game

June 13, 2017 Business News No Comments Email Email

In the age of the empowered consumer, businesses will have to work on not just attracting customers, but also retaining them; giving them unique travel experiences and making sure both employees and customers are connected to their brand. They must also harness data to create relevant experiences for customers. And all of that requires senior management to lead the way.

These are just some of the major takeaways from the recently-concluded Asia Connect Leadership Forum for the travel and hospitality industry held on May 25-26, 2017 at Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel Singapore.

In this new edition conference themed Connecting On All Fronts: Amp Up Engagement & Holistic Brand Experience, opening keynote speaker Dr Janelle Barlow reminded delegates that a brand is a promise of performance which can only be met by great customer service.

The noted public speaker, trainer, entrepreneur and best-selling author of A Complaint is a Gift pointed out that customer retention is the big challenge, hence, differentiating a service and linking it to its brand is how businesses stand out in the marketplace.

Customer service has to be re-evaluated to see if customers are satisfied, engaged and emotionally connected with a brand. Then everything in the sales experience – including a consistent service delivery – has to be lined up to match the customers that a business is targeting.

Her advice is to:

  • Stop trying to be someone else. Use your own brand DNA to create your brand vision and future because generic customer service is no longer good enough as it won’t engage customers
  • Stop scripting your staff. Companies should educate staff for service competency rather than merely train them for service
  • Go pay attention to your culture. Internal brand behaviours should be visible internally, influence how the brand promise is delivered and inspire everyone
  • Go set some brand standards. Everything has to be brought into the branding process and every department has to be involved, with management leading the way

Audrey Chung Far East Hospitality

In his keynote speech, Dr Mike Hampton, Dean of the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Florida International University emphasised that transformational travel experiences are built on details and an understanding of what drives guest satisfaction and gives them the “wow” factor.

Because every customer is different, businesses have to think globally but act locally. What is needed is the right insight and data that tells you about these individuals, how they make their decisions and what influences these decisions not just for today, but also in future.

Given travellers’ new mobility, insights and expectations, he urged businesses to think strategically, look at the world differently and act tactically, constantly assessing their own feedback mechanism to get to the desired strategic position.

Meanwhile, Scott Friedman, motivational humourist, author and Chief Celebration Officer at Friedman & Associates, shared how organisations can use celebration as a strategic tool to truly engage and connect with employees and customers.

Pang Yuxin_Far East Hospitality

Conference delegates also had the opportunity to attend ‘Fast Track’ Workshops with Master Classes by:

  • Lucas Peng, Chief Executive Officer, Peak Hospitality Solutions, on personal and innovative leadership to inspire and achieve peak performance in a fast-changing, disrupted yet connected business world;
  • Daniel Ord, Founder & Director, OmniTouch International, on differentiating the brand experience in this highly connected-sharing economy using the omni-channel approach; and
  • Lisa Watson, Regional Customer Success & Commercial Business Development Lead, HP Inc, on innovations in using data to disrupt the customer experience

In Ms Watson’s session, titled Pokemon Pioneers, she showed how the world is exploding with data, taking everyone into a world of data-driven marketing.

“It’s about using data to make your marketing decisions,” she says. “When you find a tiny bit of data before anyone else, that becomes your competitive edge.”

Royal Plaza on Scotts

Customers today expect an omni-channel experience, in which all the channels work together and there is consistency in the messaging. Along with the mobile phone, which has empowered everyone, is the exponential growth of data.

What this means is marketers have to create relevant experiences for the consumer – moving from volume to value marketing. “And you can’t even begin to do it without data,” notes Ms Watson. “Data is oxygen – targeted, personalised and customised.”

In the lively panel discussions, other critical issues and practical solutions were raised, including the importance of hiring the right person for the job of representing an organisation’s brand; the urgent need for a fundamental re-look at the roles of service staff via data analytics; how technology can be harnessed to disrupt traditional ways of doing business and meet the needs of today’s consumers; and what the future holds for transformational travel experiences.

Panelists included, Kathleen Tan (President, North Asia for AirAsia), Lawrence Lee (Sr Vice President, Human Resources for Millennium Hotels & Resorts), Neeta Lachmandas (Executive Director for the Institute of Service Excellence at Singapore Management University), Puneet Mahindroo (Senior Director of Hotel Marketing and Revenue Management, Asia Pacific for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts), Sean Treacy (Managing Director of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Asia) and Robin Yap (President Asia of The Travel Corporation).

The two-day conference culminated in the inaugural Asia Connect Customer Experience (ACCE) Tourism Awards to recognise hospitality and tourism’s Best Practices and Achievements. The award winners are:

  • Data-Driven Customer Acquisition Campaign – Award Winner: Far East Hospitality
  • After-Sales Service & Customer Success Strategy – Award Winner: Far East Hospitality
  • Omni-Channel Engagement Strategy (External Customers) – Award Winner: Swissotel Merchant Court;         Honourable Mention: Raffles Singapore
  • Omni-Channel Engagement Strategy (Internal Customers) – Award Winner: Royal Plaza on Scotts

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