#Hightech versus #hightouch, computers versus humans, self-service technology versus personalised service.
These contrasting buzz words have received much attention in tourism research and practice lately. However, the real question is: Are these concepts mutually exclusive and at the end of spectrum? Or, could it be that high-tech technologies can lead to more high touch, personalised guest experiences?
Experiences are at the heart of the tourism and hospitality industry. This is why companies look for new ways to create more unique experiences that meet the needs and wants of contemporary consumers. The key is to turn simple service encounters, simple interactions, simple service ‘touchpoints’ into experiences. This is critical for businesses to differentiate their offers, facilitate high value for customers and gain competitive advantage in the long term. At the same time, consumers are increasingly seeking for extraordinary, unique and personalised experiences. They no longer want to consume pre-packaged products, services or experiences targeted at a mass market.
Consumers now want experiences that engage them in a personal and meaningful way and create added value for them.
Recent studies have shown that digital technologies can be key tools to create enhanced, more social and more personalised experiences (see Neuhofer et al., 2012, 2014, 2015).
One of myy recent studies has analysed the case study of a Swiss hotel, which uses a “Happy Guest Relationship Management” for personalised experience creation. The key idea is to use a solution that captures and integrates all interactions between staff and guests throughout the pre-stay, in-house and after-stay stage of the journey.
So what are the first steps to facilitate high-touch experiences through technology?
- understand consumers and their inherent needs and wants
- establish a dialogue with your consumers along the customer journey
- collect, consolidate, evaluate consumer preferences in a particular service context
- use digital applications to support experience personalisation
What are the key findings ‘recipes’ to use high-tech to create high-touch experiences?
- cover all touch points throughout the hotel with the application (reservations, reception, housekeeping, breakfast, maintenance, bar, marketing, welcome, sales and revenue, etc.)
- in the pre-travel stage, contact guests to understand a-priori preferences and needs, engage them with a nice message and introduce employees they will meet
- in the hotel-on-site stage, add and update guest information and preferences in real time and synchronise this across the platform for all employees to access and retrieve; use the information to turn single service encounters and try to create a personalised and memorable experience
- in the post-travel stage, send guests a message, engage them, share key memories of their stay and keep communicating with them.
For more details on the study, you can access and download the study here:
Neuhofer, B., Buhalis, D. and Ladkin, A. (2013) High Tech for High Touch Experiences: A Case Study from the Hospitality Industry. In Cantoni, L. and Xiang, Z. (Eds.), Information and Communication Technologies in Tourism 2013, Vienna, Austria: Springer Verlag, pp. 290-301.