Guests at luxury hotels want to feel like they're in the comfort and familiarity of their own homes.
Because of that, personalized hotel services are shaping up to be one of the biggest trends in hospitality in 2019, predicts Alex Shashou, cofounder and president of hotel operations and guest management platform ALICE.
Much of it comes down to staff — similarly to Netflix, Amazon, and Postmates' algorithms — remembering guests' preferences, and delivering on them.
As the demand for luxury shifts away from goods and increasingly toward experiences, customers don't just want any experience: They want personalized experiences that are either inherently unique or specifically tailored to them.
In fact, as travel industry intelligence platform Skift wrote in June, "Personalization in the hotel industry has ceased to be a trend. Today, it's an obligation."
The hotel industry will be taking more steps in 2019 to keep up with this demand, predicts Alex Shashou, cofounder and president of hotel operations and guest management platform ALICE.
As Shashou told Business Insider, "many industries far outpace hotels when it comes to the personalization required to deliver such luxuries — whether it's Netflix suggesting new shows, Amazon recommending new products or Postmates storing favorite orders."
"In a sea of people and travel," Shashou continued, "being recognized by your hotel or going on a unique experience is a luxury [that] hotels cannot afford to overlook."
So, what tangible changes can guests can actually expect to see at hotels?
Much of it comes down to staff — similarly to Netflix, Amazon, and Postmates' algorithms — remembering guests' preferences, be that a favorite drink order that a bartender can offer a guest upon arrival or a bellhop offering to book guests' favorite spa treatment while they're checking in.
At Kimpton Hotels, a boutique chain with over 65 locations primarily across the US, guests who qualify for their Inner Circle benefit receive a personal welcome amenity with their stays.
"Guests can indicate their favorite sweet and savory snacks, drink preferences, and note any special occasions," Faith Yi, senior communications manager for Kimpton, told Business Insider. She noted that they can also add in details like their favorite newspaper; upon arrival, their preferred amenities will be waiting for them in their room.
"It all helps us better understand our guest," Yi said.
Some hotels even have a substantial budget specifically reserved to best help guests resolve problems. As Inc reported, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company encourages employees "to spend up to $2,000 per guest to solve a guest issue or improve a guest's stay."
Personalized amenities are popping up in hotel rooms
Shashou explained that this personalized attention will likely extend to every level of the hotel experience.
He noted that "guests who regularly request more towels will find the room stocked upon arrival and a VIP who always orders the same champagne at the hotel's restaurant or bar might find a complimentary bottle waiting on ice in their room."
And hotels are already making changes to the way they serve their guests drinks. The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, for example, features as "Cabinet of Delights" full of boutique wines on tap as a luxurious and hyper-convenient take on in-room minibars. For those travelers for whom that's still not personal enough, other high-end hotels are offering services like cocktail butlers who mix drinks in your room or drink trolleys in the hallways.
Guests may even have a say in how their rooms are decorated.
"I also anticipate that hotels will give guests a stronger voice in choosing their amenities and stylistic room choices, providing interior décor options and preferred product brands all in an attempt to make the guest feel more at home," Shashou said.
It's all part of making the hotel feel memorable
Sam Shank of HotelTonight previously told Business Insider that the best luxury hotels in the world all have two major things in common: they're photogenic, and they appeal to people's nostalgia.
"Hotels need to have things that are memorable and different," he said.
The goal with all of these personalized tweaks is, ultimately, to make high-end guests feel like they're not in a hotel, but in a home away from home. And, when it's done effectively, the guest is not the only one reaping the benefits.As Skift writes, giving a guest a memorable and tailored experience at every step along the way — from booking to checking in to the stay itself — is an effective way for the hotel to work toward "higher booking probability, increased user satisfaction, and a greater likelihood of repeat visits to the website, leading to better brand loyalty.