Aligning with Your Guest's Needs

The more features you add to a product, the more it dilutes the core reason for a product’s existence and confuses people.

Marco Arment, Build and Analyze Show #68

Marco Arment is the creator of Instapaper, an online and mobile application for reading online articles without all the advertisements and other distractions[1]. The above quote occurred during his podcast when he was talking about his competition who had released a new version of their application. When I first heard it, my mind started wandering to how it could be applied to other products, not just the world of design and application development. Later in the episode, he says something else that appealed to me (and I’m paraphrasing this time):

Better to leave certain things to your competitors instead of trying to incorporate all the features.

One of the first rules about revenue management that I have learned is to adjust to your property’s needs, not to adjust when the competition changes. I have seen it happen more and more, where one property drops their rates dramatically, so the property’s owner you are working with want to follow suit in fear of losing guests to the competition. It’s simply not the case in terms of rate, and it will also be true with other hotel features.

If a guest’s needs change, they will switch to a property that suits their needs, but they won’t switch to a property that offers something different unless it fits their need. For example, if a competiting property installs an indoor pool, that may not be something that the business traveler will take advantage of, but if a property installs higher-speed internet connections in all the rooms and free printing at the Front Desk, they will most likely switch.

It’s important for a property to have its own identity, be aware of it, and have everyone entering that property be aware of it, as well. Knowing your base identity, you can build upon it when the time is right by offering additional services that complement the original services. If people can recognize the indentity of the property immediately, they will buy into the services that are offered, and the ones that are not. If the hotel is selling itself as a high-end resort, but there are no services that make it a resort (no pool, spa services, golf course, etc.), there will be a disconnect between the guest and the property, which will drive the guest away. But if the property sells itself as a boutique hotel with limited services, and does those limited services very well, it will help to build loyalty to that property.

At the same time, guests have their own identity. This is something that goes missed by some properties, but you can’t try to cater your property to a guest who’s needs are going to be met. If your property doesn’t have a dedicated work space in the room, you can attract a leisure guest but probably not a business guest. You will be wasting valuable advertising dollars by trying to sell to the wrong person. Once the guest is in your hotel, it is important to be in touch with them to make sure their needs are continually being met (email newsletters, Twitter, surveys, Facebook, and talking with them while at the property).

If you notice a strong number of your guests requesting a certain feature, that would be a good time to pivot and go in that direction as long as it aligns with your original identity. If you notice a strong majority requesting a certain feature, you better act quickly before they are lost to your competition.

Aligning your guest’s needs with the features your property offers is the way to build a successful property longterm.

  1. It’s quite awesome, and I highly recommend using it.  ↩