Understanding Ibis Hotels: The Dynamics Of Tourism And Travel Industry Customer Service
Categories of Ibis Hotels and Target External Customers
Ibis hotels are a chain of hotels that was founded in 1974. Over the years of operation and the association of Accor hotels brand value the company has gained goodwill among the stakeholders. The company has an array of hotels which cater to a large group of people as there are ultra luxury hotels under the brand as well as budget hotels as well. In this assignment the tourism and travel industry dynamics will be explored focusing on customer service management (Ibis.accorhotels.com 2018).
The company is multinational and has around 1137 hotels in 65 countries around the world. There are three categories of hotels under the brand name: Ibis, Ibis style and Ibis budget. Depending on the customer they can choose the category they are looking for. In any organisation there are two types of customers internal and external, where the internal customers are responsible for running the operations of the business, the external customers are the ones who are responsible for the revenue of the business (Kushwaha and Shankar 2013). The internal customers of the company are the Human Resource associated with the company, the suppliers of the company the shareholders etc.
Following are some of the features of the three categories which will help in understanding the variation in the services as well as the kind of external customers that each of the categories target (Xu and Gursoy 2015).
IBIS: “Discover our most beautiful locations” this is the luxury line of services and focuses on the extra touch that will make the customer feel special. Extra breakfast facilities, 24hrs service, focus is on the comfort and relaxation therefore the sleep if the guests are given priority, 24 hrs meal service and free wi-fi are some of the features that add to the exquisite locations of the hotel (Ibis.accorhotels.com 2018).
The segmentation of the customers that are attracted by this category is psychographic. The lifestyle of the customers are based on luxury services, these people enjoy and feel the extra touch to be their part of life. The social status of the customers is on the higher end and thus they enjoy as well as afford the extra facilities of the service. Thus these customers can be categorized as need based and loyal as well (Kushwaha and Shankar 2013).
IBIS STYLE: the major attraction of these hotels are the way they are designed and built, the company focuses on the creativity and the architecture while designing is given priority there are facilities such as free wi-fi, family services, comfort etc (Ibis.accorhotels.com 2018) .
Need-based and Loyal Customers
In this case the customers are segmented again on based on their psychographic division as their love for art and design is explored and can be called need based as they only tend to gravitate towards things they like and enjoy. The customers are expected to understand art and appreciate the efforts that have been added in the designing process. The customer’s social status does not impact much but the affordability does (Kushwaha and Shankar 2013).
IBIS BUDGET: this category is for the ones who are looking forwards to have an awesome holiday on a budget. Features such as: unlimited buffet at an affordable rate for breakfast, free wi-fi, no fixed arrival and departure time etc make up this division (Xu and Gursoy 2015). The customers are segmented on the basis of the demographic as their income status is considered apart form that the customers that the company attract are looking forward to have a good time with family and friends (Ibis.accorhotels.com 2018). All the facilities services and amenities are based on an affordable rate. Here they can be called discount customers as they are already looking for affordable options there are chances with discount the business will flourish more, also they can be categorized in the need based segment as they are on a budget (Kushwaha and Shankar 2013).
Need based customers: the customers who are attracted towards this category of hotels are looking for exclusive services. One of the current trends among the guests is the use of technology based services, such as constant Wi-Fi connectivity in the most remote areas. Personalized indulgence, more and more people are looking forward to get services which are customized according to their taste and preference (Haris 2014). This also includes a menu less kitchen, where the guests will be served with any cruise that they desire. Indulgence in terms of spirituality is another trend currently people are looking forward to self-discovery and spiritual exploration in their relaxation. Reading is another trend that has been around people like a literary Getaway, with books around leaving behind the digital world. Here the focus of the customers is more on the quality of the service and they need actions to be taken on behalf of the trends (Lemon and Verhoef 2016).
Loyal customers: The loyal customers in any segments do not adhere to the trends rather they are more focused on having similar experience with the brand. The customers in this segment are created due to the consistence in pleasing their needs previously by the brand. The loyal customers are looking for service, appreciation in terms of complimentary services and action as they expect from the brand (Lemon and Verhoef 2016).
Effective Customer Service Strategies
The company can introduce more customized services as that are one of the aspects that will help in establishing the scope of indulgence and the focus of a little extra effort from the service.
Need based: These customers are looking for creativity and culture while traveling and thus in order to fulfill this specific need the company has introduced this category. This has helped the company to achieve the goal and deliver specific requirements (Torres and Kline 2013). This segment caters to one of the current trends among the customers in this category and hence adds to the success of the business. Here the need is also based on the service and quality of the service as the category is targeted towards people who appreciate art.
Discount customers: The customers in this category are in need of an affordable accommodation; therefore their focuses will be in all kinds of amenities in an affordable range. Some of the trends in this category are availability of technology like Wi-Fi service. Compact services for example: complimentary breakfast or one time buffet service. Another trend that is gaining popularity in this segment is theme-base travel (Wong and Dioko 2013). For example: All-girls or All-boys trip, ecotourism, food vacations etc these are the areas where the company has the opportunity of success. The company can come up with packages and discounts based on such themes. The primary need here is price and quality as the affordable rates are the primary reason for attracting the customers. The need here is regarding affordability, the people in this category are looking for a high quality service in affordable rates. The trends among this category are to have a simple good time and be rejuvenated by the end of their trip (Torres and Kline 2013).
Wherever we are, open new ways towards positive hospitality. This is the goal of the company and in order to attain this management strives to build the policies and services based on the needs and requirements of the customers. In order to be successful business organisations need to be in sync with the current requirements of the customers so that their services are relevant and they are able to serve their customers better (Torres and Kline 2013) The needs and requirement of the customers are important for the management to understand in order to develop services accordingly, the company is focused on the customers and want to create valuable relations and by understanding the need the company can achieve success in this objective. The company is a customer centric organisation and the management with every policy and decision tries to cater to the customers (Wong and Dioko 2013).
Monitoring Customer Service Effectiveness
Travel and tourism is a service based industry that has to be constantly competing with intense competition in the global market. Therefore building and marinating customer relations are very important in the industry. With the facilities and services that the company provides they try to build their bond with the customers (Cook 2017). Ibis is a brand that is open to creativity and innovation in their approach in order to bring out positive hospitality. As a consumer-centric organisation channels all the resources in ensuring that the service that they provide the customers are top-notch and are also aligned to the claims that they have made (Tseng and Wu 2014). Some of the techniques that the company can employee in order to understand the effectiveness of the customer service are:
Repeat or loyal customers: the customer service effectiveness can be best understood with the help of the numbers of repeat customers. If the trend of the loyal customers keeps increasing it is a marker that the services that they are getting from the company are effective thus there is a positive rise. If people like the service of a hotel they would like to go back to the same brand even in a different country. The company can come up with membership cards to transfer first time customers to loyal customers.
Feedback: There are always options for the customers to provide feedback on the service and this is one of the best ways to understand the effectiveness of the customer service. In this way the company can also understand what the customers want as well. Feedback can be specific or can be on general lines, the customers feedback should be paid attention to if the company wants to improve as well as want to cater to the customers need. Positive feedbacks are the ones indicating towards an effective customer service (Tseng and Wu 2014).
Another perspective of feedback is from the staffs, management can pay attention to the responses of the staff members in identifying the efficiency in the service.
Number of complaints: The feedback is a medium of communication from the customers to the company which is usually provided at the end of the stay formally. However, the complaints that customers do while staying are a direct indication of failure in satisfying the customers. Therefore in order to analyze the effectiveness of the customer service of the hotel the reduction in the complaints is a direct indicator of success (Tseng and Wu 2014). The nature of the complaint also is important in order to analyze the process. After a stipulated time, the number of complaints should be analyzed.
Seed of resolution: After a complaint is placed, the time that is taken to resolve the issue is one of the major indicators of effectiveness. The objective should be to reduce the time according to the nature and the complexity of the complaint (Dhar 2015).
Innovation: Ibis is an organisation that is focused on innovation in the process of customer service; the number of innovations that the company incorporates within a stipulated time indicates that the process of customer service is effective as the feedback; complaints etc are taken in consideration while formulating the process of innovation in the service. Innovations lead the company to remain competitive in the intense market as well as develop edge over the other players (Tseng and Wu 2014).
The management of Ibis can implement the SERVQUAL RATER system in order to ensure there is quality management in the organisation. In order to transform a new customer to a loyal customer the company should ensure that there is a holistic support from the management in the process. Therefore it explains the importance of the quality system. The company has three categories of hotels and therefore there should be three separate customer service operators helping the customers (Albarq 2013).
The five elements in the model are:
Reliability – to deliver the customers what is claimed and remain credible in the business as well as among the stakeholders.
Assurance – to build a valuable relation with the customers on the basis of trust and confidence.
Tangibles – the elements of the physical existence of the institution for example the building, website, tools, services and people associated.
Empathy – the extent to which the employees understand and care regarding the outcome of their actions.
Responsiveness – the urge of the employees to respond clearly and responsibly (Buttle 1996).
With the help of this model and following the elements the customer service will not only provide service during the stay but will also ensure that the customers receive a holistic care and hospitality form the hotel. Many times people are travelling from one country to another and have difficulty in communication due to language barrier these are the times the hotel services and extend and enhance the quality of the service (Albarq 2013).
Handling customer complaints
· The people who deal directly with the clients or customers must work patiently.
· The policy should to first listen and then work on the problem
· The line of communication must be clear to the people who are communicating with the clients, any issue raised should be dealt with the specific expert immediately
· Reduction of the time of solving the issue should be one of the major targets of the communication process.
· Prioritization the executives must understand the issues that need priority and the ones that have time to be resolved.
· The focus should be upon helping the clients, solving the problem and getting feedbacks. In the process there are a number of protocols that need to be followed among which the priority is to have a personal and customized discussion with the customer. The customers do not like if a person gives mechanized answers to the queries.
· Following the above suggestion the executives must have enough knowledge to continue the conversation.
· The executives must not be aggressive
· Do not beat around the bush while talking to the client
· The communication approach should not make the customers feel that they are being tricked at any point of time as the goal is to build valuable relationship.
· There should not be any noise in the process of communication and therefore the infrastructure should be up to the mark
Dealing with a difficult customer
· The executives realistic and understanding
· The priority should be to pacify them
· Do not hesitate to communicate with the concerned point of contact
· Put across the message clearly
· Become agitated if the customers behave rudely
· One should never get in to an argument
· The executives must never come across as arrogant
Effective communication over the telephone
· The executives must develop the telephonic etiquettes skills which are essential in order to maintain professionalism
· There must be an introduction to the conversation, it can be as short as the name of the person and the name of the company along with a salutation or a question
· Monitoring the feedbacks
· There must be politeness to the approach along with being professional.
· The nature of conversation must be formal with customized aspects
· The executives should excuse and pardon whenever necessary
· Must not put the call on hold for more than 30 seconds
· Should be an aggressive approach
· The language must be formal and not colloquial
· The direction of conversation should not diverse
Principles of letter-writing when corresponding with customers queries
· The subject section is very essential in case of a formal letter hence every important detail of the letter must be included in the subject section
· There language that is used to write should be of formal nature
· The content of the letter must crisp and to the point.
· There must not be any grammatical issue in the content
· It is important to pay
· Focus on the clients issue
· One must not interrupt when the client is speaking
· Request to repeat in case you did not follow
· Pay more attention if the client has an accent to follow the conversation
· Do not be distracted
· Focus on one conversation at a time
It can be concluded form the above discussion that the hospitality industry is customer centric industry, the organisations that function in this market must make sure that the dynamics of the consumer needs are fulfilled according to the trends of the market. For an organisation like Ibis hotels it is essential to keep the guests happy and satisfied so that they can create value among the customers and convert them into loyal customers. With their three categories of services the companies can micro management the individual needs of the customers with similar general requirements. The company indulgences the customers with price, quality, service, appreciation and action.
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