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May 2019, London
Europe's biggest event for commercial and digital travel execs
5 lessons in cracking CX from a hospitality industry veteran
Frasers Hospitality has been around for nearly two decades and understands that getting CX right requires a multi-pronged approach
Guus Bakker joined Fraser’s Hospitality, a global hospitality operator with high-end serviced apartments, hotel residences and boutique lifestyle hotels (think Hotel du Vin and Malmaison) - back in 2001. Eighteen years later, as CEO of Europe Middle East and Africa, he says the group’s success continues to be built on delivering an excellent customer service.
That customer service ethic also extends to Frasers’ own staff. “Equally important is treating our staff, and each other, with the same care and respect that we extend to our guests,” says Bakker, echoing a theme that emerged in a recent EyeforTravel white paper titled Cracking the Customer Experience. Interviewed for the white paper is Hans Meyer, the co-founder of innovative business travel brand Zoku, which is reinventing apartment hotel. He believes that innovative companies view their employees as customers, if not their family. When hiring, he always asks: “Do I want to introduce that person to my best friends, and my parents? Do I think, ‘you should meet this person because they are so nice, so genuine, so hospitable?”
Having grown from two properties in Singapore to over 150 properties in more than 80 cities, and as the winner of 21 awards at the World Travel Awards, Frasers Hospitality is obviously doing something right. Bakker shared five lessons with EyeforTravel.
1. Engage everybody around you, and share viewpoints
Getting everybody involved in the conversation gives people a sense of contribution and ownership on the decision-making process. When done well, this creates the right environment for teams to function better. With Frasers Hospitality’s purchase of Malmaison and Hotel du Vin, different brands had to come together under one umbrella.
“Malmaison and Hotel du Vin are uniquely different from each other with the former being more chic and cheeky while the latter is more elegant and resonates with the character of the locale. Naturally, when they were put together in the same room, there were differing points of view on the way to approach guest experiences,” says Bakker.
“However, by engaging the various teams and having them focus on unifying factors such as delivering on what we call a gold standard in guest service, having outstanding design and style, and the shared love of excellent food and drink, we could work much closer and progress further.”
2. Create memorable experiences but keep it simple
The biggest opportunity in hospitality still lies in the ability to provide memorable experiences. Identifying the various aspects of creating what would make a memorable experience, being up-to-date with ever-changing guest sentiments and being able to deliver something that delights guests on every stay is vital. This process of going above and beyond is coined the ‘Fraser Touch’ and is about anticipating the needs of guests and providing an intuitive service that meets those needs.
“Simple things like arranging items just the way you like them, walking the pet dog or watering the plants if our guest is out of town for an extended period. These little surprises help make extended stays feel more homely and guests have a better overall experience,” Bakker says.
3. Innovate for the times
In travel there has been a lot of hype about new-fangled technologies like AI, IoT and buzzwords like personalisation. Bakker believes that technology can enhance the human touch to make guest experiences more seamless. “We are committed to testing and rolling out cutting-edge concepts as part of an innovation push in the hopes that it will change guests’ approach to hospitality,” he explains.
To this end, the group established an experience centre in Singapore back in 2017 for test-bedding of new technology. One outcome of this was that the group changed the traditional hotel concept for Capri by Fraser, China Square / Singapore, which caters to the unique lifestyle needs of millennial travellers and is slated to open in 2019.
“It was designed for the e-generation with the combination of facilities and services of a smart hotel with the space and amenities of a serviced apartment, such as kitchenettes,” says Bakker. Next steps will be to roll out a guest experience app that uses chatbot technology and puts a comprehensive range of services at the fingertips of guests - from making reservations and enabling check-ins to requesting housekeeping. The gym experience also gets an upgrade with social elements that include gamifyied workouts; an interactive fitness system that combines innovative flooring with music and lights will also create an immersive guest experiences.
4. Incoroprate technology wisely to save time
Frasers has incorporated technology into processes so that employees can reduce time spent on mundane tasks, and spend more time with guests. As one example, Capri by Fraser, China Square / Singapore will be one of the first hotels in Singapore to adopt a revolutionary linen delivery process.
Through a cloud-based mobile solution, housekeepers would be notified of rooms to be prioritised, reducing guest wait times and better respecting guest privacy.
By attaching RFID tags to items to be washed and having back-of-house robots pick up customised trolley carts from every floor, housekeepers will no longer have to do manual counting and laundry runs. Another example, is being able to make a makeup-room request through the app and having motion sensors that detect guest occupancy resulting in the optimisation of room cleaning order.
5. Take a multi-pronged and integrated approach to customer acquisition
It is very important to have multiple touch points that are integrated for both the offline and online spheres. This would mean having a good mix of traditional and online marketing inclusive of social media presence and engagement. Tied to this is the use of a comprehensive customer management system and booking system that allows us to gain insights into the individual needs of every guests. This forms a good feedback system that helps us to ensure our offerings are refreshed and up-to-date with current trends. Partnerships with industry and corporate partners also form a major segment of our customer base.
Join us in London for the Digital Strategy Summit (May 21-22) to hear more about CX from leading travel brands including Ryanair, Accor, Best Western, Finnair and more