Author: Tracy Sawyer
The key to successfully anticipating consumer needs in any market is to first understand what your target audience values. By understanding where they are investing their time and money as a larger demographic, you are able to not only successfully market to your customer but to start a larger conversation and allow consumers to identify with your brand.
The global hospitality industry is a great example of how brands are evolving alongside customers — in this case, travelers — exploring a world without borders. Hospitality brands know the emerging spending generation is interested in authentic experiences more than ever and view travel as an extension of their daily lives, not a once-a-year holiday. Therefore, they take the design ethos of travel, from lodging to transportation, into consideration.
In reaction to tenuous social and geopolitical environments, trends in general lifestyle begin to permeate every inch of our experience and greater emphasis is placed on holistic wellness, meditation and living in the moment. Brands, then, must extend far beyond a well-crafted product or service, and consider the ways modern consumers experience them. In the case of hospitality, design must go deeper than aesthetics and function and tap into how travelers experience a space.
Here are a few ways you can emulate the hospitality industry’s focus on customer experience in your own business.
Address Pain Points
Belmond’s celebrated trains span South America, Europe and Asia, offer passengers plush fabrics and compartmentalized cabins and tout a renewed “golden age of travel.” Likewise, Canopy by Hilton (Full disclosure: Canopy by Hilton has been a client of Krause Sawyer) has taken progressive steps to ensure the comfort of guests in transit with the innovative “transfer lounge,” an area that allows incoming and outgoing guests awaiting late flights or arriving before check-in the chance to freshen up with a shower, alleviating the discomfort of not having a room available.
Your consumer’s experience matters in the same way. Assess the aspects of your industry that cause consumers difficulty. Observe competitors who offer a similar service or product and conduct research by testing user experience. For example, if you are providing a food delivery service, try competitors and make note of any part of the process from selection to ordering to delivery that could be improved. If you offer graphic design or social media services, find out what’s prevented your clients from having successful relationships with similar providers in the past or what would make their experience more pleasant. Finding the root of a prior bad experience can be enlightening in terms of identifying how to eliminate that concern for your consumer.
Use Tech To Improve Consumer Experience
One form of travel that has traditionally been less favorably represented has taken new measures to address these exact issues. The cruising industry is in the midst of an advanced thorough overhaul, incorporating progressive designers and thought leaders in the hospitality design field to help reinvent an admittedly rejuvenated reputation. Cruise ships are incorporating activities and lifestyle amenities previously regarded as impossible on the high seas, with new advances in technology allowing for the ultimate in user-friendly design.
Aside from a focus on Instagram-able moments (an average day sees nearly 351 million Instagram posts featuring #travel), cruise lines are engaging smart tech to address seamless movement aboard ships. Wearable technology enables guests to have a highly personalized experience.
New ships are utilizing apps and even facial recognition for quicker boarding processes and onboard usage, making it easier for passengers to unlock and lock their rooms, turn lights on and off and provide one-touch access to ship amenities throughout the duration of the journey.
Consider creating an app that will enhance your customers’ experience by providing expedited and simplified access to the services you already offer. Ask yourself whether there are technologies or platforms available that could create a more seamless experience for your consumers. Speak to other entrepreneurs or investigate adjacent industries to see how other service providers are using innovation to deliver a streamlined user experience.
Additionally, cruise lines are providing more opportunities for wellness. Improvements in spa facilities, healthy food options and a variety of fitness disciplines allow passengers to stay in shape, both mentally and physically, while in transit, with an abundance of options.
Incorporating a wellness angle is a great idea. The term “wellness” is far-reaching in scope and can take form in a variety of ways depending on your individual offering. No matter how it takes shape, harnessing the term and incorporating it into your branding as a whole will go a long way in the current cultural landscape. Wellness can be mental, physical, spiritual or anything in between, so as long as your service is able to enhance the user’s overall well-being and quality of life, there is an opportunity to incorporate that feel-good aspect in the overall brand messaging.
The cruising industry proves a perfect example of how to pivot a brand toward consumers’ desires. Listening to the specific pain points of your industry and repositioning accordingly to consider a holistic view of experience from start to finish can make a lasting impression on your target audience.
Looking at how the hospitality industry has tailored design process and end project to consumer needs offers a unique vantage point for how to successfully brand a product in today’s market. Modern consumers are looking for unique experiences and technology has increasingly allowed for journeys of any kind to be experienced as a destination. A brand’s strength lies in its ability to create and refine unique, considered concepts that inspire and fascinate, producing environments specific to every individual’s experience.