"Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going."
- Paul Theroux

Views & Interviews

Knowing your customer

November 2016

This Q&A interview may be a projection of the future – where you get to know your customer so well that you give him the kind of service that is totally customized. And this has a lot to do with anticipating needs, and understanding individual concerns - something that can go a long way in making each customer feel really, really special.

These days you can get a basic idea of customer preferences through feedback forms - but it helps to know more and dig deeper. A good tool here is in the digital analysis of preferences and usage patterns via booking information, restaurants, room service requests, complaints and feedback given during the customer’s stay at the resort. But there’s a whole lot more you can do, as you might see in this fictional Q&A session.

So here goes – like we said, this is sometime in the future - though some resorts may be already moving in the right direction.

When I arrived at the resort, to check in . . .

The last time I went to my home resort, I was pleasantly surprised to see the guest relations person welcoming me by my name, and calling out to my 5-year-old daughter – well she knew my daughter’s name as well and asked her about the teddy bear she brought along the last time.  Then she helped us with the sign-in process and wanted to know if we wanted something refreshing at the coffee shop, before we settled into our rooms. Nice – just the right way to welcome a guest.

When we entered our rooms . . .

On our last holiday my wife had shared something about her favorite things in her feedback form – and the color blue was mentioned by her in her comments. We were pleasantly surprised when we entered our room this time – blue was the theme and pleasantly done in the many ways that they could visualize it. Very comforting indeed. The pillows and bedspreads in the room were a comforting blue – the flowers in the room were blue. Even the bath towels and soaps were blue – not to forget the personal stationery that was placed on the writing table.

When we went to one of the restaurants . . .

The senior waiter at the restaurant welcomed us warmly – he too seemed to remember my name, my wife’s name and our daughter’s name. He also remembered what we had ordered during our last stay and suggested that we experiment a bit this time and explore the other offerings on the menu. I was practically dumbstruck when he remembered about my daughter’s food allergies and special diet – he said that he had already made arrangements for that. I think he had also coordinated with the room make-ready staff to place a large bowl of fruit with apples and pomegranate – pomegranate was not ordinarily included but was brought in because I had specially asked for it on our last holiday.

When we enquired about activities planned for us . . .

Our activity coach had notes on exactly what we did on our last holiday – treks, games, and half-a-plantation visit due to a lack of time. During our briefing session on activities, he listed what we missed out and also mentioned that we had forgotten to collect our gift hampers from the plantation.

When we went to the pool for a dip, the supervisor also seemed to know us rather well. He even remembered that my wife had inadvertently lost one of her contact lenses in the pool. He asked her to be careful this time.

On this vacation, days two, three and four were full of experiences such as this – the resort staff were friendly, attentive and clued into what we liked, what we didn’t like – what we looked forward to and what we missed out on. They really knew each customer in an intimate sort of way.

Handling customer data . . .

It’s always useful to get to know your customer – without letting him think you are intruding, or breathing down his neck. What can help you here is information gathering that uses accurate tracking and digital analysis of a customer’s preferences and usage patterns. Some of this is already happening at hotels and resorts - but the idea here is to know more, understand better, and anticipate what the customer could be looking for.

Using detailed information to “upsell” to an existing customer is one thing, but using this information to give him better service is a whole new threshold of activity.  Looking back at this Q&A session, it’s evident that the resort is really close to each customer. The restaurant supervisor remembering a child’s food allergies, and the pool instructor remembering the lady’s contact lenses takes customer service to an amazing level of personalizing the experience.

The mantra being “know your customer, to know your business.”

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