What Do Customers Value Most?

Hotel customers
Contributor: Johan De Jager, UK Country Manager, Brigad

This article answers the common question ‘What do customers value most?’ The answer to this can shape any hospitality business and their approach to customer service.

  • 63% of customers value good service, saying it is more important than impressive interiors or upscale hotel suites
  • The top three consumer frustrations about their hospitality experiences are all service-related
  • A third (33%) of hospitality professionals are considering leaving the industry in 2020

The Talent Trends report, commissioned by Brigad, the hospitality platform for professionals, shows that the industry’s people are its most valuable commodity. According to the findings, quality service is still at the very heart of the sector with consumers revealing their top three frustrations when staying in hotels are all service related;

  1. Unhelpful Staff (47%)
  2. Slow Service (41%)
  3. Staff who aren’t knowledgeable enough about facilities and menus (24%)

The report shows that there is still no replacement for face-to-face contact with customers in a hospitality setting as over half (55%) prefer being able to spend time checking in with a receptionist or concierge than the speed of a digital check-in platform. 

People first

Despite customers valuing service over and above all other aspects, the industry risks a potential talent drain which could impact the quality of service that consumers expect and are demanding at increasingly high levels. The vast majority of independent professionals surveyed (78%) feel that the industry is lagging behind others in terms of work/life balance. Furthermore, over a third of hospitality professionals (33%) admit they are considering leaving the industry in 2020. The findings clearly show that more needs to be done to keep talent. With 71% of respondents citing bad pay, poor work/life balance (70%) and long hours (63%) as their reasons for wanting to leave. 

Brigad UK Country Manager, Johan De Jager, explains; “It’s clear from our research that the customer prioritises top level service, yet evidently many hospitality professionals do not feel the industry is doing enough to address key issues such as work/life balance, pay, working conditions and training.

“It can be really challenging for business owners and managers to cater to the ever evolving needs of customers and the seasonal peaks in demand, whilst also trying to ensure work/life balance in an industry which is naturally 24/7.”

Special diets and nutritional information

The research also highlights a need for greater knowledge on food allergies and special dietary requirements. Indeed, food allergies are on the rise with over a 50% increase in food allergy prevalence being reported amongst children between 1997 and 2011. In addition, special diets such as veganism are booming amidst environmental, health and animal welfare concerns. The industry needs to adapt to ensure it continues to meet demand and maintain the highest service levels. When it comes to training, customers say that their hospitality experience would be improved the most in 2020 with more education and training in allergies and special diets (27%) as well as health foods and nutritional information (22%).

Sustainability

The study also reveals that businesses that do not adopt a more sustainable offering and train up their staff could be at risk in 2020. One in five (22%) said the issue of sustainability impacts their choice of hotel stay and almost a third of guests (32%) are put off staying at a hotel that does not address environmental and social concerns. But business owners and managers need to ensure that their workforce know what the business is doing to tackle environmental issues as one in three consumers (35%) say they expect the staff to have a good level of knowledge on the sustainability credentials of the business.

The issue is also reflected amongst the industry’s independent professionals, as over half (61%) have noticed an increasing interest from customers in what their hospitality organisation is doing regarding the environment. To cater to this demand, the industry is crying out to be upskilled in this area with 44% asking for more education on the environment and sustainability. Clearly there is a disconnect between the heightened expectations of this decade’s consumers and the expertise that professionals feel they have on the issues.

Personalisation

The research shows that personalisation and customisation are key themes that will continue to grow in 2020, with 51% of consumers admitting they now choose a hotel based on the unique experience and personalised service it can provide. Furthermore, half of consumers (47%) say they prefer to be able to customise their meals as opposed to ordering off a traditional menu when dining out.

Provenance

When it comes to dining out, consumers have a keen interest in provenance and expect the industry’s people to be knowledgeable on the subject. For a quarter of diners (25%), locally sourced menus with limited airmiles are taking preference over exotic menus in 2020 and two thirds (64%) say its key that they know where their food comes from when dining out. In fact, one in five consumers (20%) are put off returning to a restaurant if the staff cannot explain where the food is sourced so its crucial that the industry invests in upskilling and educating its people.

Brigad UK Country Manager, Johan De Jager, adds; “Training and upskilling its professionals to ensure that they maintain exceptional service and product delivery in 2020 needs to be a priority for the industry.

There are some incredibly talented and passionate people that work in our sector and so we must make sure we are retaining and attracting the best talent into such a people-centred industry to ensure we can meet the demands of today’s consumer, and now there are new tools out there like ours that can help tackle these issues.

“Our platform allows independent hospitality professionals to work flexibly to ensure a work/life balance and retain control of the shifts they select whilst also giving managers and business owners the reassurance that they can call on highly skilled independent professionals at a moment’s notice.”

Key Findings of Hospitality Talent Trends Report 2020
People first: Consumers prioritise the best quality service from their hospitality experience (63%), but the industry needs to invest more in its people to keep the best talent.
Personalisation all the way:  Bespoke personalisation is set to be on the rise in the hospitality industry, with 51% admitting that they would be driven to pick a hotel that offers a unique experience.
Face to face over tech:  Over half (55%) prefer being able to spend time checking in with a receptionist or concierge than the speed that a digital check-in platform can provide.
Upskill on allergies and nutrition: Consumers say they want to see hospitality industry professionals upskilled to improve service for allergies and special diets.
Don’t ignore sustainability: Businesses that do not adopt a more sustainable offering and train up their staff could be at risk in 2020 with a third of consumers (32%) now put off a hotel if it does not have a sustainable approach and almost half of the professionals surveyed (44%) demanding training in this area to meet the needs of today’s customer.
Provenance is key: One in five consumers (20%) are put off returning to a restaurant if the staff cannot explain where the food is sourced so it’s crucial the industry invests in training.
Contributor: Johan De Jager, UK Country Manager, Brigad
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