Hospitality-Technology-Market-Force-Study

9 September 2016 — According to a large-scale consumer study conducted by Market Force Information, many consumers are using mobile apps to find and book hotels, but are shunning newer technologies such as check-in kiosks that are meant to drive efficiencies for guests.

Date: Friday, September 9, 2016

One in six hotel guests were dissatisfied with their last stay

In July 2016 we surveyed 9,167 US consumers and and asked them about their lodging experiences including booking reservations, amenities used, check-in and check-out experience and problem experiences.. Download the PDF below and learn some of what we found out. For a deeper dive into the results, schedule a briefing below.

Check-in to the UK's favourite hotel chain

In July 2016 we surveyed 4,842 UK consumers and asked them about their hotel experiences including booking reservations, amenities used, check-in and check-out experience, and problem experiences. Download the PDF below and learn some of what we found out. For a deeper dive into the results, schedule a briefing below.

PR Hospitality

Also reveals that travelers prefer reception desk over self-service kiosks

LOUISVILLE, Colo., Sept. 14, 2016 —According to a large-scale consumer study conducted by Market Force Information® (Market Force), a leader in customer experience management, Marriott is consumers’ favorite brand among major hotel and motel chains. The study also found that, while many are using mobile apps to find and book hotels, newer technologies such as check-in kiosks aren’t yet enjoying the same level of success.

More than 9,000 consumers were polled for the study, which was designed to uncover which hotel and motel brands are excelling, competitive differentiators, hospitality technology usage and satisfaction with the hotel experience, among other insights.  

Marriott and Hampton Are Guest Favorites

For the rankings, Market Force asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their most recent hotel or motel stay, as well as their likelihood to refer that brand to others. The results were averaged to attain a score on the Composite Loyalty Index.

Marriott ranked No. 1 with a 70% score, Hampton Inn & Suites and Courtyard by Marriott tied for second with 66%, and Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn and Embassy Suites rounded out the top five. The top nine brands were tightly clustered on the Index, underscoring the competitive environment and showcasing a need to differentiate.

Graph 1: Favorite U.S. Hotel Chains

Hampton Inn Wins on Service, Marriott Delivers on Rooms

Market Force also looked at how the top chains fared in areas such as service, room condition and value. Hampton Inn dominated in all of the service areas, earning top marks for ease of check-in, staff friendliness and helpfulness. Marriott led in the room-related categories, ranking highest for its bed and bedding, bathroom and carpet condition, in-room entertainment and temperature and noise levels. Courtyard by Marriott was the value leader, and scored in the top five for most of the room attributes. Hilton Garden Inn has the most attractive rooms and was second for value.

Graph 2: Hotel Chains Ranked by Service Attributes

Graph 3: Hotel Chains Ranked by Physical Attributes

 

Hampton Inn is also winning with its rewards program, with 72% indicating that they’re members. Marriott and Hilton Hotels & Resorts tied for the second-highest number, while Comfort Inn and Best Western had the fewest.

Most Tapping Apps to Price-Compare, Book

Nearly half – 44% – of those surveyed said they have used a mobile app to find or book a hotel, and the usage was similar across younger and older generations. Most are using the apps to compare prices, book rooms, view availability and search by location. Conversely, few are using them for tasks such as setting price alerts, checking a location’s policy or writing a guest review. Hotels.com and Expedia are far and away the most popular hotel apps, followed by TripAdvisor, Priceline and Travelocity.

Graph 4: Most Used Hotel Apps

Few Checking Out Kiosks for Check In

When it comes to checking into a hotel or motel, most guests head straight for the front desk. Market Force found 93% are still checking in with reception. Just 3% report checking in online, 2% through an app, and a mere 1% at a self-service kiosk. Seventy-one percent of those who checked in at the desk had an efficient experience, compared to 59% of kiosk users. The numbers were similar for checking out – 71% checked out at the desk, 22% left the key in the room and only 2% visited a kiosk.

Graph 5: Experience Checking in at Desk vs. Kiosk

“The interesting thing here is that we’re seeing more major hotel chains adopt new technologies to boost efficiency and deliver great experiences, yet most guests are still shunning self-service options when checking in and out,” said Cheryl Flink, chief strategy officer for Market Force. “The reception team is their front line and they must not overlook the tremendous impact they continue to have on the customer experience.”

Are Guests Using Amenities and Grabbing Breakfast?

More than one-third of hotel guests reported dissatisfaction with the Wi-Fi experience during their recent hotel or motel stay, and that could be because it’s the amenity they used most. Market Force found that half had used an amenity or facility during their stay – 74% used the Internet, 67% swam in the pool, 51% parked at the hotel and 46% visited a restaurant or bar. The least used were the movie rentals, conference room and spa.

Graph 6: Amenities and Facilities Used During Recent Stay

“The interesting thing here is that we’re seeing more major hotel chains adopt new technologies to boost efficiency and deliver great experiences, yet most guests are still shunning self-service options when checking in and out,” said Cheryl Flink, chief strategy officer for Market Force. “The reception team is their front line and they must not overlook the tremendous impact they continue to have on the customer experience.”

Are Guests Using Amenities and Grabbing Breakfast?

More than one-third of hotel guests reportedTwo-thirds had breakfast at their hotel or motel, and it was an included perk for 83% of those. The highest levels of satisfaction came from those with a hot buffet and custom omelets, and the least satisfied were those who offered a continental breakfast. Embassy Suites and Hilton Garden Inn earned the highest scores for breakfast satisfaction.

Survey Demographics

The survey was conducted online in June 2016 across the United States. The pool of 9,167 respondents represented a cross-section of the four U.S. census regions, and reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with 61% reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondents’ ages ranged from 18 to over 65. Approximately 75% were women and 25% were men.

About Market Force Information

Market Force Information® provides location-level measurement solutions that help businesses protect their brand reputation, delight customers and make more money. Solutions include customer experience surveys, mystery shopping and contact center data integrated on one technology and analytics platform. Founded in 2005, Market Force has a growing global presence, with offices in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France and Spain. It serves over 350 clients that operate multi-location businesses, including major retailers, restaurants, grocery and convenience stores, financial institutions and entertainment. More information can be found at www.marketforce.com.

Date: Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Customer Experience Insights: Transforming Big Data into Smart Data

Big Data presents great opportunities for insights into the customer experience, but it is not without its challenges. The problem, of course, is that Big Data, by definition, means that there is increasing volume, velocity and variety of data. That volume and velocity of data often outstrip a company’s ability to utilize it.

Over the past decade I have seen brands gather data from various sources (mystery shopping, customer satisfaction surveys, social media, audits, contact centers and finance), but few companies truly break the data down into actionable insight and build a clear customer strategy behind it.

It’s no wonder. With so many forms of data being collected by various methodologies, different vendors, with siloed analysis of data streams, it’s not surprising that mixed and sometimes even conflicting messages are reflected back to the business, from CEO to store manager, to Learning & Development to Operations. Or what is more typical—companies end up with lots and lots of data, but no real insights.

Through working with hundreds of brands, we have learned the best way to transform Big Data into Smart Data is to:

  1. Aggregate. To take advantage of Big Data and understand how to improve the customer experience with the greatest ROI, we recommend investing in technology that allows you to gather data inputs from multiple sources and multiple vendors in real-time into a single platform.
  2. Analyze. Turning Big Data into Smart Data, is not just the aggregation but analysis. To extract insights you need analysts who specialize in dealing with customer experience data. In fact, our analyst team has found that by combining different types of data you get insights you could not get with each individual data stream. These insights can then be fed out to each location via the technology platform.
  3. Recommend by Location. Make sure that the platform allows you to drill-down to location-level data and recommendations. Not all locations need the same fixes. Giving blanket instructions based on aggregate data to all locations will penalize some, and totally miss the mark on others.

To learn more about Market Force and how we help companies turn Big Data into Smart Data, schedule a briefing today.

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As a Senior Director of Strategic Relations at Market Force, Jay aligns his team's focus on providing the best actionable insights to the UK & European client base. He has vast experience not only in Retail Management, B2B Client Management & thought leadership, but also how to empower and motivate your teams to deliver the best Customer Experience possible.

Hospitality Industry: The Inside Scoop

The hospitality industry is growing. IBISWorld reports: “While the Hotels and Motels industry is highly susceptible to changes in the global economic environment, the industry has experienced robust growth over the five years to 2016. Thanks to increases in travel spending, corporate profit and consumer spending, industry revenue has grown every year since 2011, as the economy improved and domestic and international travel rates increased. As a result, the Hotels and Motels industry has outperformed the broader economy over the past five years, driven by a combination of high demand from leisure and business travelers and international tourists. Over the five years to 2016, IBISWorld expects industry revenue to grow at an annualized rate of 4.2% to reach $169.2 billion, as consumer confidence and spending spike, raising revenue 2.4% in 2016 alone.”

In new research by Market Force, we found that consumer loyalty—and the opportunity to capture growth—depends on each hotel’s delivery in six areas of excellence:

  1. Overall condition of the hotel
  2. Value for money paid
  3. Helpfulness of staff
  4. Ease of check-in
  5. Bedding comfort
  6. Safety of guests and belongings

In the research, guests rated their satisfaction with their most recent hotel stays. 16% said the hotel delivered poorly on all six of these factors—and satisfaction with the stay was a very low 6%. In contrast, 29% said their hotel delivered well on all six factors—and 92% of these were highly satisfied with their stay. These satisfaction ratings led to very high loyalty—with hotel brands varying widely in their scores. (We will publish the brand level results in a press release in September.)

These results highlight the enormous opportunity to capture growth in the hospitality industry. Satisfied customers are loyal to the brand—and that loyalty allows hotels to command a higher RevPAR rate (revenue per available room) as shown in this case study. To help you measure customer satisfaction and impact on REVPar—or simply to evaluate your current customer experience measurement programs—call us at 1-877-329-9621. We’d be glad to discuss ideas for helping you improve your guest loyalty and financial success for every location. 

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As Chief Strategy Officer, Cheryl aligns Market Force's strategic direction with our clients' strategic objectives. She oversees the North American client base, Analytics and Insights, Winnipeg Operations and Marketing. She has a Ph.D. in social psychology and broad business experience in both private and public companies.​

It Takes Two; a Customer Experience Measurement Strategy

World class multi-location brands leverage several measures to understand individual store performance. This is true across numerous industries, from restaurants to supermarkets to petro and convenience retailers to drug stores to department stores to hotels to banking and financial services organizations. However, not all stores are created equally. There are many factors that go into measuring how an individual location delivers on the brand promise. Financial metrics are an obvious metric—but tend to be in the rear view mirror. In Market Force’s modeling work, we have found that both delivery to brand standards (assessed through mystery shopping and audits) and customer experience metrics (surveys and call center data) can be lead metrics of financial performance. So how?

Location-level customer experience derives from two components:

  1. Operational execution—how well did the location deliver on the brand standard?
  2. The experiential factor—how did a customer feel about his or her experience?

Both operational and experiential measures tell a brand how its locations are delivering on the brand promise.

Operational Measures: Most brands leverage mystery shopping to understand their operational execution. This measure is a black and white, objective evaluation of exactly what happens at the store when a customer comes in. Were they acknowledged and greeted? Were they served properly? How quickly did they receive service? How long did it take them to check out? Were they thanked for their business? These are simple questions, answered with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ responses. In addition, shoppers can assess the sales process—did associates ask needs based questions, provide recommendations, and interact in a way that positively represents the brand. Mystery shopping enables a business to ‘inspect what they expect’. This feedback helps brands know where they are executing and where there are performance gaps.

Experiential Measures: Just as many businesses deploy customer experience surveys. This measure is more of a ‘shades of gray’ perspective; a subjective read on how a customer felt about their visit. Overall, how satisfied were they with their experience? How likely are they to return? How likely are they to recommend the store to a friend, family member or colleague? How do they feel about the value for the price paid? These questions are answered using both quantitative scales and open-ended text data. Leveraging both numeric and open-ended data will provide operators with the information they need to coach their teams to delight each and every customer.

With both measures in place, an organization has a truly holistic view of their location level CX, and change becomes a matter of acting on very specific behaviors. In our research across hundreds of multi-location businesses, we find that better performance on brand standards (as assessed by mystery shopping) has a high impact on the actual customer experience—customer satisfaction increases as locations deliver better on standards. In addition, our sophisticated financial models show that the actual behaviors of store staff and operational attributes of a store can predict financial metrics like same store sales, transaction counts and average transaction value. And these are the metrics that really matter.

For additional insight into this integrated approach, please see our “Better Together: Integrating Direct Customer Feedback and Mystery Shopping Data” white paper.

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Brad Christian is a Managing Director at Market Force and consults with retail and restaurant executives to design cost-effective customer experience measurement programs that help them protect their brand's reputation, delight guests and drive greater unit economics.

Blended Index: How to Create a CX Single Metric

The use of blended indices is quickly becoming a best practice as companies attempt to connect the dots across many sources of data being collected for their organizations. No single measurement tells the whole story—and that’s particularly true of multi-location businesses. Why? Because locations are looking at operational excellence metrics, satisfaction and loyalty metrics, as well as financial metrics to understand how they perform. And how they perform needs to be within the context of the brand itself and peer groups. In order to make sense of the rich data sources, we recommend constructing a blended index.

WHAT is a blended index?

A blended index creates a composite score from multiple data sources, spanning operational and customer metrics. The algorithm must normalize the data so that scales are not an issue (e.g. mystery shopping on a 100 point scale, customer satisfaction on a 5 point scale, or contacts on a number of complaints/1000 transactions). The algorithm should also flex to weight specific metrics. This single score provides the brand—and your locations—with a holistic view of performance across all metrics.

WHY should I have a Blended Index?

A blended index that spans across operational and customer metrics helps you understand performance as a whole. The magic happens when you bump that information up against a financial metric like same store sales growth, revenue per available room, or volume of gas sold. You’ll then want to understand the performance of every location on that grid to determine where you will want to require better operations, more marketing to drive traffic, management changes, and adoption of best practices.

HOW do I get value from a Blended Index?

The final step in maximizing your value from a blended index requires socializing the information with the rest of the organization. Executives and managers from both operations and marketing need to understand the numbers. More importantly, they need to drive action across the organization. Finding the critical drivers—specific actions that can be taken to change scores on the blended metric—must happen. Without that commitment, you’ll be looking at data that stays the same and never changes—and that will not help you grow your brand. 

Sam McKeveny is Head of Program Development, North America at Market Force Information. Sam consults with client executives to design program architectures that systematically improve operational execution, customer delight and sales growth.

Incenting Employees: Three Best Practices from our Clients

Our clients often ask us how other companies incent their employees to deliver exceptional customer experiences. Practices range widely and tend to group into three major categories. Let’s take a look at those categories and why they are used:

  1. Appreciation through badges, certificates, pins, etc. That “badge of honor” really matters to the front line. A certificate acknowledging superior performance, signed by an executive, makes an indelible mark on employees. They are proud to be recognized and execs can reinforce the importance of serving customers. I’ve personally seen a pride wall where a petro-convenience retailer had every 100% shop certificate up on a wall. I’ve seen employees wearing their “employee of the quarter” pins or displaying their “WOW” certificates for exceptional service. Indeed, virtually every research firm confirms the importance of employee recognition in driving retention and engagement.
     
  2. In the moment recognition for delivering exceptional service or complying with brand standards. In one program we deliver, employees receive a “Golden Ticket” for upselling beverage products at restaurants. That golden ticket is a gift card delivered immediately and directly to the employee. Not only is that reward valuable to the employee, it’s valuable for both the restaurant brand and the beverage vendor. Both see an uptick in sales.
     
  3. Bonus compensation tied to results. We have a number of clients that tie compensation to CX results—but it takes many different forms. Some clients emphasize the performance of the front lines. In one case, consistent delivery on 100% shop scores results in a bonus added to each monthly pay check for front line employees. For others, delivery on core CX metrics is tied to management MBO’s that go all the way up to the CEO. As with any compensation, you’ll want to check that you have a solid metric, that every location knows how to move the needle on that metric, and that you are recognizing improvement towards goals as well as overall results.

Recognition and incentives are critical to your team. We’d be happy to discuss alternative incentive programs that help your teams understand their importance to creating exceptional customer experiences and positioning your brand for financial success. 

Schedule a briefing

As Chief Strategy Officer, Cheryl aligns Market Force's strategic direction with our clients' strategic objectives. She oversees the North American client base, Analytics and Insights, Winnipeg Operations and Marketing. She has a Ph.D. in social psychology and broad business experience in both private and public companies.​

Innovation in Social Media: The Power of a Listening Ear

Social media strategies now require a large percentage of our marketing budgets. In fact, Forrester research forecasts that US social media spending will increase dramatically in the next five years, from $13 billion in 2016 to $30 billion in 2021 with a growth rate of 16.9%. In Europe, growth is projected at 18.4%, from $7.4 billion in 2016 to $17.3 billion in 2016 (US dollars). And advertising is only one component of social media dollars spent by big brands. We divide that spend into three separate categories:

Responding to CX commentary. Customers post their customer experience comments to both corporate and site level Facebook and Twitter pages. Brands have built strategies for managing those comments, focusing on taking negative commentary offline and recovering unhappy customers. Positive commentary can be used to uplift and motivate employees. Direct recognition for great work can immediately impact morale!

Managing third party reviews. Reviews posted to Yelp, Trip Advisor and other third party sites have become increasingly important. For example, understanding sentiment, categories of commentary, and trends—and comparing that information to key competitors—form the very basics of what your brand needs to be watching. Also, in the restaurant industry more than 67 percent of customers take online reviews into consideration when making a purchasing decision (as published by Modern Restaurant Management). In Market Force’s research, we clearly see the influence of sites like Pinterest for fashion and even comparative pricing apps like GasBuddy for gas.  

Creating engagement and innovation through advertising. We love it when brands use social media to innovate. Flynn Decker, CMO for Wingstop, gave a great interview to Loyalty 360 (https://loyalty360.org/content-gallery/daily-news/wingstop-carries-its-innovative-spirit-through-dig) about how Wingstop is using social media and CX data to engage with customers. Wingstop has aligned its CX strategy to match the heavy use of online ordering, recognition of the importance of mobility, and the first-of-its-kind social auction series on Periscope “THUMP by Wingstop.” Users bid on prizes by tapping the Periscope heart button. 

As you think about your own budget for social media, divide it into those things that will a) create and drive revenue, like engaging your customer base through advertising, b) those that will help you mitigate risk, like taking negative conversations offline, and c) those that will help you drive down costs, like using commentary and third party reviews to help your teams perform better. Every dollar you spend can be leveraged to drive your business. 

 

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As Chief Strategy Officer, Cheryl aligns Market Force's strategic direction with our clients' strategic objectives. She oversees the North American client base, Analytics and Insights, Winnipeg Operations and Marketing. She has a Ph.D. in social psychology and broad business experience in both private and public companies.​

 

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To discuss your needs for improving performance for your multi-location brand, give us a call. We’d be happy to discuss best practices for measuring the customer experience and compliance to brand standards, using analytics to understand what matters most and the ROI for change, and technology solutions that integrate large quantities of data on one single platform. We look forward to a great discussion!

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