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Hotels are like taxis, the guest wants the convenience of an Uber

01 November 2022
A recent survey of 15,000 people reveals that simplicity inspires deeper trust, strengthens loyalty, and increases willingness to spend. People are also more likely to recommend a brand that delivers simple experiences. In the end, simplicity drives financial gain for the brands that embrace it and shapes a better future for everyone.

The survey shows that 57 % of consumers are willing to pay more for simpler experiences and 76 % are more likely to recommend a brand because it provides simpler experiences and communications. Brands leave $402 billion on the table when they do not simplify. The survey finds that 13 % of consumers would pay more for their hotel stays if the experience was more straightforward.

Hotels at the bottom of the list

Hotels are more complex than simple, and the industry has lost in the global ranking of the World's Simplest Brands from 8 to 20 of 25 industries. Of the remaining bottom industries are four related to travel. Last week I blogged about the 100-year-old check-in process that is not helpful for the guest but rather inward-focused and establishes a barrier between the guest and the hotel. The process has been the same for a long time while the rest of the world has undergone dramatic development, especially in digitalization.

Modern technology simplifies

The check-in process is only one of many frustrating processes in hotels, making it difficult for guests. Hotels are in the overnight accommodation business, which explains why the check-in is at 3 pm and check-out at noon. The primary reason people come to hotels is to sleep. It is not simple to stay in a hotel when the morning flight arrives early. Check-in is at 3 pm, and only if the guest is lucky the hotel has a room ready before 3 pm. It is not simple to stay a few extra hours when the flight home is in the evening. The guest might get a late check-out past noon, but only if the hotel procedures permit and someone makes an effort. Hotels have become gatekeepers of their processes instead of considering how to satisfy the guests' needs. When will hotels simplify so the guest can book a stay from one specific time one day to another exact time another day instead of following old rules invented a hundred years ago? Modern technology can handle more complex puzzles with different slot times for stays than hotel staff can do manually. However, hotel companies have always been late in adopting new technology or meeting new unique guest needs.

Re-think the business model

Many hotels tried to attract guests for other reasons, such as work, during the pandemic but did not change their processes' fundamentals. When attracting guests to work from a hotel room instead of from the home or the office, hotels made an exception from the check-in and check-out rules. As soon as the restrictions during the pandemic were gone, hotels reverted to the routine. It is very contradictory when hotels talk about maximizing the use of the capacity when they are blocked mentally from changing the fundamentals with the help of technology to make the stay easier and more satisfactory for the guest. Microsoft and Adobe took a long time to change their business models from paying for software and upgrades to a subscription model. The transition proved to be an injection into revenue growth and increased customer satisfaction and financial success.

Meetings are even more complex

Booking and staying in a hotel room is probably the simplest part of a hotel. Think about having a meeting or an event at a hotel. It starts with a complex booking process where the customer has to consider endless choices and make difficult decisions. If not, the customer is screwed. The rules and mentality are that hotels rarely allow any changes. The message is that the hotel rules are strict, and guests must follow them. The exception happened during the pandemic when hotels flexed their rules to not upset the guests.

Guests need a consultant

Ordering food and beverage in a restaurant is also complex. The guest needs a consultant to advise which wine goes well with the food. Again endless choices and combinations put the experience at risk and might not end well. Guests want simplicity, and if you look at the best-selling items on the menus and wine lists, you will see well-known simple things that people recognize.
The best analogy is that hotels are like taxis, while the consumer wants the simplicity and convenience of an Uber, Lyft, or Grab.