To understand the disruptive threat that alternative lodging companies pose to the hotel industry, look no further than research released earlier this year by Cowen and Company providing a glimpse into the success of Airbnb. The report indicated that Airbnb’s global bookings are anticipated to grow 70 percent in 2016, taking $12.3 billion in revenue away from hotels.
Cowen & Co. estimates as soon as 2020, Airbnb could be boking 500 million rooms per night. In comparison, Marriott, Hilton and Expedia each booked 200 million rooms per night in 2015.
The rise of alternative lodging sites has created a significant threat to the hotel industry. In order to quell the tide of guests opting out, hotel industry leaders are going to have to adapt to reclaim their market share.
But where should the industry focus its attention?
One way it can stand out from the competition is to provide superior customer service. There is little standardization in Airbnb listings, with policies, maintenance and booking left largely to individual homeowners. This lack of established service standards could lead to:
- unmet expectations upon arrival;
- inadequate responses to customer complaints;
- restrictive cancellation or checkout policies.
The 2014 Aspect Consumer Experience survey found that 72 percent of consumers stopped doing business with a company because of a bad customer service experience. Hotels can vastly outperform competitors when it comes to customer service, with dedicated personnel and the right customer service tools. What are the right tools?
- Omni-channel platforms that allow customers to seamlessly move across channels to have complaints addressed quickly and conveniently.
- Mobile self-service apps that send automated travel alerts for hotel guests regarding weather, traffic, or flight delays.
- Proactive customer care that provides travelers automated tips on visiting popular local destinations.
- Workforce optimization solutions to ensure contact center agents and front desk personnel are always available to handle unexpected changes of plans.
Providing customer service that supports guests across their entire journey—from the time they leave home to the time they check out—increases customer satisfaction and lowers stress; it also demonstrates your willingness to satisfy your guests’ needs in a way that Airbnb operators do not.
This may prove essential as hotel managers seek to set their establishments apart from the competition.
Learn more ways the hotel industry can use superior customer service to attract guests.
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