According to Experience Radar 2012: Consumer insights for the US hospitality industry released by PwC US, travelers are back on the road and the hotels and brands that deliver the experiences that customers not only want, but also are willing to pay for, can benefit from the continued lodging recovery. The report reveals that issue resolution and current room amenities are most sought by customers. PwC's Experience Radar study is designed to uncover experience "recipes" that drive the choices of today's traveler and profits for tomorrow's hotel operators. The research points to important issues on the minds of hoteliers today including: attracting and retaining guests, investing in capital improvements, and reaping benefits from "brand ambassadors."
"Running a profitable business isn't just about keeping costs down, it's about winning and serving your customers," said Scott D. Berman, principal and US industry leader, hospitality & leisure, PwC. "In a setting in which the lodging sector is trying to stay ahead, the ability to understand features on which guests place the highest value is critical. While guests say they want style and decor, flexible cancellation policies and rewards for frequent stays, when you look at what they are willing to pay for, issue resolution shows through for its importance to both leisure and business travelers, and room amenities stand apart relative to overall hotel amenities, particularly for leisure guests."
PwC's Experience Radar differs from traditional methods of consumer research. Unlike market segmentation based purely on demographics, Experience Segments - the market segment groups identified by Experience Radar - are defined by the types of experiences customers desire. Rather than ask customers which characteristics they seek in a hotel, Experience Radar measures the features consumers value as they select a hotel.
"PwC's values-based approach to getting inside the minds of the consumer - coupled with a quantitative DNA that lets us examine experiences with an economic filter - can be the difference between simply listening to guests and truly getting to know them," said Paul D'Alessandro, global customer impact practice leader for PwC.
PwC points to the following Experience Enhancers for hoteliers to build and grow their business by designing and delivering exceptional customer service:
When a negative experience happens, fix it before check-out
Leisure guests are willing to pay a 20 percent premium for best in class issue resolution, while business travelers are willing to pay a 11 percent premium
Of guests who shared their complaints with the hotel, seven out of 10 were not satisfied with the result
Eight out of 10 leisure guests are influenced by well handled issue resolution when rebooking
Experience creates a channel through brand ambassadors
Three out of five leisure guests are highly likely to rebook after a good experience
95 percent of guests discuss noteworthy good and bad hotel experiences
Meet business guests' needs, drive loyalty
Business guests rank personal experience as their top purchase driver
A satisfied guest is loyal and will spread the word
Issue resolution and room amenities are "aces" for leisure travelers
Over half of memorable leisure stay moments are experienced due to customized support, largely driven by attentive staff
Leisure travelers not only say they want current room amenities, it's a feature they're willing to pay for
"At this stage in the lodging recovery, the focus has turned to pricing," added Berman. "Winning with customers means understanding their needs and putting them first."
PwC's Experience Radar measures the experiences of approximately 6,000 US consumers across 11 industries and assigns value to a broad set of customer experience attributes broken down into industry-specific elements and then ranked by what is most important to target segments.