Travel is finally back on the menu and as the UK hospitality industry begins to welcome customers again, the push to stand out from the crowd is increasingly important. This means determining a hotel’s USP is key to success.
Hospitality was one of the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic as lockdowns prevented people from leaving the confines of their home, let alone travelling to the pub or a hotel either in the UK or abroad. But now the rules have relaxed, there is plenty of work to do to ensure your business is the one that customers are choosing to visit.
Finding a hotel’s USP to stand out from the crowd
This article will now explore methods of distinguishing yourself from other hospitality businesses, taking your hotel’s USP into account as well as significant changes to the hospitality industry..
Changes to the way we all interact with businesses during the pandemic have now become part of the fabric of every transaction, from grocery shopping to booking into a hotel, and those not able to offer a seamless experience with minimal ‘touchpoints’ are likely to lose out.
Key to this is integrating omnichannel payment capabilities, so no matter how your customers interact with you, the experience they get is uniform and fast. Guests will no longer tolerate long check-in or check-out queues at peak times. People simply do not have the patience for this in the post-pandemic world.
Technology integration benefits guests
Best-in-class business hotels, vacation hotels and resorts need to provide self-check-in services, allow the use of payment wallets on devices such as smartphones and wearable tech, and accept biometric payment through facial recognition. Increasingly, customers want to benefit from dynamic currency conversion at the point-of-sale, so no matter where in the world they are from, they know their cards will be accepted with the minimum of friction.
Those hotels failing to upgrade their systems to provide this could find themselves left behind as guests migrate to hotels that do.
But it also benefits hosts
However, this upgraded technology is not only a benefit for guests, but it also helps owners of these businesses to be more effective, streamlined and attractive too. For example, payment systems that allow clients to create a profile gives you additional data that you can use to understand how they spend their money and how you can host them more effectively. This means building loyalty with existing customers by offering deals and discounts directly to their mobile phones and this could attract new customers if this encourages more friend referrals from the existing customer base.
Booking methods are changing
There has been a decline in online travel agents over the past few years – Thomas Cook being a notable example – which has changed the way customers research and book hotel stays. They are more likely to research hotels themselves as they become more discerning in their choice of stay – having had the ability to travel removed from our lives has made us more aware of our spending when we are away.
Potential guests will book hotels that meet their needs most closely – they may be more likely to spend their money on a hotel with a spa or choose a company that allows them to book a room with a sea view directly online rather than having to ask when they get to the hotel.
Early booking and cancellations
Many are also booking well in advance to ensure they get exactly what they want from their holiday. Host Unusual has seen a 74% rise in searches compared with this time last year, as people look to make sure they are getting the break they really want in 2022. With this level of planning and anticipation, second-rate service is out of the question if you want to keep guests happy and coming back.
The pandemic has changed cancellation policies too, with most customers expecting to have a stay that is fully refundable should travel restrictions or their own personal circumstances change. This is a major shift for many hotels and resorts and can create cashflow pressure that did not previously exist.
In short, customers are looking for greater flexibility across the entire process from booking a room, checking in and paying for goods and services during their stay, right the way through to checking out in a seamless and painless way.
Embracing technology to achieve this is essential and integrating omnichannel payment systems is a major part of this process and can work as your hotel’s USP. If your guests can engage with you from the beginning of their journey when they are researching where to stay, right the way through to their checkout in a frictionless way, you will most certainly stand out from the crowd with your hotel’s USP. Business hotels may find this a bigger boost to their sales, but even holidaymakers now expect this level of service as standard.
By Dean Farley, Global Business Development Manager – Travel & Hospitality – GSV at Worldline
About the author
Dean Farley joined Ingenico/Worldline in 2020 with 10 years of experience in business development. In his role, Dean is responsible for driving international new business in Travel & Hospitality, by helping customers improve on efficiencies and their customers’ experience, by tailor-making solutions that fit their individual business needs for a modern post-Covid World.
Prior to this, Dean spent five years working for Worldpay and Cardsave and previously held a variety of roles related to Business development in ANPR tech & Medical diagnostics.
To find out more about Worldline’s hospitality solution, please visit: WL Hospitality Suite – Dedicated Payment Solution for Hospitality (worldline.com)