The 21st-century customer has high expectations for not only the product or service they’re buying, but most importantly for the experience they have while purchasing it. Let’s have a closer look at the needs of the customers in 2018, with the emphasis on the hospitality industry.
First, we should get to know the modern customers. What are their basic characteristics? What should every company know in order to become successful in today’s market?
Characteristics of the modern customers
Their fundamental trait is the awareness of their own needs. They know what they want when they want it and how they want it to be presented to them. They won’t simply accept anything just because it is at hand. They want a certain quality and won’t settle for less. And they are not afraid to speak out about it.
The modern purchasers are busy. They do not have the time to search through a complicated-looking website, find the information they need in between the lines or ask for additional instructions that have not been provided to them. They value their time and try to use it as efficiently as possible.
They are also almost always online, and that’s something each company needs to bear in mind. The product they want, or at least its description,should be easy to find on the World Wide Web.
The customers are smarter and more confident, making them a lot more difficult to please than those before them.
But what does all of that mean?
The buying process
Firstly, it dictates the buying process. It has to be as easy and intuitive as possible. No complicated steps, no overloading the customers with information. Quick access to the products and clear layout of the website are both the key to success.
In 2018, the number of customers choosing mobile devices over more traditional distribution channels will continue to grow. They want to be able to buy anything, anywhere and at any time. The total sum of mobile purchases is rising, and so is the number of the mobile searches done before buying a product. That is why each hotelier should bear in mind, that in order to truly succeed, it will not only be necessary to have a website, but also make it functional on mobile devices.
Website design is growing in importance, so therefore it is crucial to make your website as clean, easy to navigate, functional, yet modern-looking as possible. Of course, this may not match each company. If your main message is being proudly old-school, or if your target audience is slightly older, you may want to change the design to match that. However, generally speaking, Òthe less the betterÓ is becoming the go-to strategy in design and functionality of websites. It makes the buying process even easier and quicker.
Today, nothing you do goes unnoticed. It is a scary, yet true concept. Customers not only carefully watch for any mistake a business may make, but they also remember it and share it with the world.
Reviews are the main source of information, especially in the travel industry. Most people do not want to risk paying for something they may not be satisfied with. That’s why they go through the websites dedicated to sharing opinions, as well as read commentary on the hotel or OTA pages.
Customers realise that they don’t have to test each product and service themselves. There will likely be other people who have tried them and spoke about it online. Lack of reviews can even result in the lack of trust for a company.
It is easier now than ever to lose customers, as they are not only overwhelmed with offers, making it harder to get their attention, but also with reviews, making any mistake more visible.
One of the most important aspects of customer relations is customer service. Its importance is undeniable these days as many purchasers judge company based on the service they received.
Customers are looking for fast answers to any questions they may have. They want their problems to be solved as quickly as possible.
They want to feel as if they can go to the company with any inquiry or demand. They often search for support and they prefer to ask questions directly to customer service rather than search for the answers on the company’s website.
Modern customers are ruled by the emotions. That’s why a simple bot won’t be enough for them. They want human contact and need to feel like somebody is actually listening on the other side of the line. As stated at the beginning of the article, they expect a certain quality of experience and more. They want their expectations to be exceeded. That’s why automatic responses are simply not enough anymore.
Similarly, one line of communication is no longer efficient or appreciated. Companies of every kind, including hotels, need to offer many channels of interaction. Your clients need to be able to contact you via phone, but also email, chat boxes and social media. And of course, just like your website, make them easily accessible via mobile devices.
The waiting time should also be reduced to a minimum, as patience is not the forte of modern customers.
Modern customers are also more aware of their surroundings. That has a few implications. They are more eco-friendly. They care about the environment and search for more sustainable products and services, including ways to travel. It’s why electric cars are becoming more popular. Finding ways to make your hotel more environmentally friendly may help you increase your revenue. It will surely be an investment, but in the coming years, it will prove to be worth it.
Another important aspect is protecting the local communities and each year there are more examples of companies that put emphasis there. One good example is Aracari, a company that specializes in sustainable travel to Peru, Bolivia and the Galapagos Islands. It provides luxury experiences to the travellers while supporting the communities in the areas visited. Similarly, &Beyond tailors each journey to the needs of their customers, while taking care of the environment and the people of Africa, Asia and South America.
Another important social issue is responsible shopping. Consumers are becoming more aware and less tolerant of corporations that use their status to the detriment of others or implement unfair practices, such as in the case of the hospitality industry, the rate parity that is causing hotels to lose revenue. That is why many customers are attracted by the companies that propose alternative solutions, such as Bidroom.com, a commission-free booking website, that is openly against the rate parity concept.
In every industry, but particularly hospitality, it is crucial to remember that today it is the customer who has the power and whose needs must be answered.
The demand for a good product or service as well as the overall experience is higher now than it has ever been. Listen to the needs of your clients, give them the best offers possible presented in an accessible way, and arrange extra benefits to best assure that your business will be successful.
Barriers between countries are being erased, so a company is not only competing with its local counterparts anymore. The ease with which the offers can be compared makes it that much more difficult to stay competitive.
In 2018, an important aspect of a good product, but also good marketing strategy is personalization. Make sure you’re not speaking to millions of customers the same way, as that may not be effective. Try personalizing your message and your service to get a better result. Remember, that your customers appreciate communication based on emotion and are tired of being treated like robots. Make sure to give them fast and effective solutions, with the right dose of empathy. Both you and your guests will only gain from it.
About the author
Brought up in Poland, KlaudiaÊFere_czuk is a journalist and a blogger, with articles published in Business Hotel, MamStartup and more, as well as over 150 blog posts related to the hospitality industry and travel on her account. She focuses mostly on the travel market, with special regard to the Online Travel Agencies.