Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hospitality 2.0: Intro and Community Engagement In SD and Delivery

The Main Idea
Web 2.0 has inspired us on everything 2.0. It's about making things, more shared, more co-created, more personalized, more crowd-sourced , more democratized, more long-tail oriented, more design-for-generosity themed and more user-generated.
During working on the Intensified Hospitality project, I used to reflect on what hospitality 2.0 can be like. I remember driving along the Doha Corniche and thinking, "how can we make these hotels less-rigid and involve people more to make the experience more-engaging?"
I looked on the web to see what was written on hospitality 2.0 and what I saw was more on the technology utilization side or the social media utilization. I'll try to propose a different perspective on hospitality 2.0 in the following directions.

From this point of view I'll list what I think of Hospitality 2.0 and how it may look like when we think of it that way, and what are the values that customers can contribute with to create a better value for the whole society.
In order to come up with what hospitality 2.0 could be like we can think of what web 2.0 included of techniques and try to apply those to hospitality. We can also look at the outcomes of the transformations driven by the web 2.0 on business models, pricing, agility, lifecycles, customer involvement, industry structures .. Etc. . I'll not go with you through this process. I'll jump to my findings, and you can follow your own process and come up with your findings, and please share them. In this post I'll just address one direction and I'll continue in future posts.

First Direction: Community Engagement in Service Design and Delivery
 The entity that delivers hospitality does exist in a society, which it shouldn't be isolated from.  Surely, it needs to set the frameworks and platforms for this involvement and engagement, and this should define the rules of the game.
Hotels could think of the surrounding or operating society as customers, and as partners.
A partner doesn't have to be an established business. If a person is able to offer a service that a guest may need or use then he could be a partner.
With this way of looking at it, we would see many opportunities and new roles needed within the hotel to manage this relationship.
Let's agree that the guest doesn't usually come for the hotel itself, but he comes for what he's going to do outside the hotel, which may be business, tourism or any other activity.
The hotel should know how to play a part in the experience the customer lives while trying to get these needs satisfied.
We need to take into consideration that hotels have always been successful in giving us silos to be in. The amount of work it requires to keep those silos ready, tidy and "occupied" takes a huge percentage of the hotel resources and the rest could be dedicated to the customer. This means that there are not that many resources to dedicate to the customer, as most of hotel resources are dedicated to the property itself.
From that point of view, hotels can't really deliver personalized experiences with their current capabilities and their current operational models.
It's just like how you think of the amount of content in Britanica and the corresponding content in Wikipedia. Or the amount of video coverage before and after YouTube and similar video networks.
 It's the same. For now hotel rooms are just good concrete walls, and that's it. The same room fits for James,  Adam, Linda, Sara, Omar or Abdullah. We need a totally different level of focus to drive this experience layer.
The hotel should think of how to manage the involvement of the society to create a better hotel experience.
Now in order to think of new concepts we have to imagine that if we told anyone about people building an encyclopedia for free, taking photos, videos, writing and more for free they would have said we're talking nonsense. It's the same as the response from David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s when they said "The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?".
The following are some rough crazy examples of what could this involvement be, these examples are so easy to criticize, but they do show what I mean by community engagement:

    Hotels can stop renting rooms to guests. They can utilize the society to create sub-hotels in the hotel. In this model, the hotel will provide the rooms and some basic services to those sub-hotels, ensure certain standards are applied. And would give the opportunity for those sub-hotels to create different customized experiences and get their sub-hotels advertised and reserved through the Hotel system. Those sub-hotels could exist in more than a hotel, with the same name where you know they mean a certain brand value. They can appear as restaurants or any other service concepts as well. In this concept the hotel takes care of the basic and standard hotel-aspects to leave the room for sub-hotel management for creativity of personalized experiences.
    Well, in order for the hotel to provide me with a nice experience it doesn't mean that I have to be in the premises and jurisdiction of the hotel. For sure, Large hotels have to decide on where their branches could or couldn't be. What if I'm a business person going on a trip to a smaller city and I'd like to stay in this hotel, where it decided not to have a branch. With hotels thinking lean and modular, they could partner with different smaller entities in the society where they can manage a series of smaller properties or even apartments that provide the same level of service and brand promise of the main hotel, and even under the same brand name, with smaller versions of mobile house-keeping, concierge.. Etc. facilities.
    Every society is full of talented and skilled people who have skills ranging from Tai-Chi and swimming to handcrafts and flower arrangement.  Hotels can provide a very wide range of learning experiences by establishing and maintaining a catalogue of local training services which the customer can book upon reservation or check-in.
    Local people can still cook and serve food in small kiosks or on counters in the main restaurant. The experience could extend to have the guest having his lunch at the comfort of a traditional home of one of the authorized dining partners.
    Who can setup a room for a man in 50s better than a man in 50s? Or a girl in 20s more than a girl in 20s? Or a mom with a baby more than a woman of a matching profile. Housekeeping here doesn't only mean to straighten up the room, change the sheets, re-fill the used amenities or the coffee trays.  It also include supplying his room with the like-minded books to read, newspaper, update on events. Choosing him a matching soap, shampoo, TV channels prioritizing .. Etc. In this model, Housekeeping person has the capacity to establish a connection with the guest even if asynchronous to know more about his likes and expectations, can the regular housekeeping person deliver the same personalized and human experience?
    Hotel should help customer have a direct access to local people, local recommendations, local information ..etc. a facebook group of hotel local club would help customer find answers on any questions he may get at any point of time. Following up on the group, would help the customer know a lot on what's going on in the city without having to keep up with the media, or for stuff that wouldn't even appear in the media like sales, accidents, shows .. Etc.
    please review the post "Towards more business-oriented business centers"

In the following posts I'll address the following directions of hospitality 2.0:
  • Guest Engagement in Service Design and Delivery
  • Information Creation and Sharing
  • Global Hospitality Co-Creation Perspective

Share |


  1. Dear Mahmoud,

    I like where you're going here.. Personally I am convinced that there is a lot of area's that are still to be explored by the hospitality field. Most of us know about the succes of f.i. Joie de Vivre, the hotel chain that looks for personal matches between visitors and the hotel experience. But why stop there!?

    Last year I have been working with a group of students who also came up with great ideas on how a restaurant can function as a meeting place for what happens within a certain community. Wouldn't it be nice to meet up with people, that like to cook the same things that you like, and then meet them to share the experience? A restaurant itself would then be the perfect facilitator!

    Also I know of a hotel that started of selling the best 'sleeping experience' and ended up selling beds rather then only its service as the guests were so excited about the beds design and comfort! (Question now is, what business is this hotel in? Are they selling products? Services? Experiences?)

    I'm looking forward to the next posts ;-)

  2. Thanks Marcel for your valuable comment. I liked the idea you about the restaurant so much. This surely falls in the second direction (Guest Engagement in Service Design and Delivery). It's great to see people working in the same direction. How close are we to these concepts when we come to implementation? What do you think Marcel?
    Regarding the bed and sleeping experience it's a very nice example as a start. I guess they could add other features to the sleeping experience which customers can use to blend their own sleeping experience. I guess this way they may continue selling experiences more than products and the product will not be the center point.