Test and learn: the fastest way to great guest experiences

Learning from your mistakes and improving on your successes quickly is an essential skill practiced by leading organisations. They never rest. They always look for ways to improve.

Implementing rapid test and learn cycles and building a digital estate to operate this way makes it easier to adapt quickly and respond to changes in the market or shifting customer expectations. All while delivering best-in-class, personalised experiences.

And, while agile practices aren’t exactly new, many hotel operators are not adopting these working methods. Failure to continuously iterate and improve leaves room for shrewd competitors to muscle in and increase their share of the market by creating memorable experiences guests want to share.

So far in this series we’ve explored how to evaluate your digital estate, helped you identify the barriers to great guest experiences and discussed the need to bring your core digital backbone in house.

In this article, let's take a look at how you can build an environment that allows you to try new things, learn quickly and create experiences which delight your guests and keep them coming back.

Build the right foundational architecture

The right architecture and constituent platforms enable rapid experimentation. It is far easier to take ideas and concepts for improving guest experience and quickly build experiments to test performance directly with a subset of real customers.

With a flexible core holding the essence of your services, wrapped in open integration points with ready to exploit APIs, any of your own or other third party services can be plugged in easily to change, extend and explore new features.

The ideas that stick - or your test customers love - can then be scaled up rapidly to all customers and the results can fuel further exploration into evolving new offers or enhancing existing ones.

Expanding upon the need to bring your core backbone under your own control, constructing it in such a way to enable tests is essential.

What you need to create is a hyper-secure foundation with open ‘hooks’ to plug and play with new ideas and technology leveraging your single source of truth data to deliver personalised and memorable experiences.

Download: 5 keys to better integrated, seamless guest services

Adopt a product mindset

Start thinking about every guest touchpoint and service as a digital product. Consider how each of those products is delivered and evaluate the performance accordingly.

This is the way customers and guests view brands and hotels. Consumers are now fundamentally digitally native, they expect digital delivery and demand it to be effortless. You have to shift your thinking to align with these truths.

This shouldn’t mean you treat everything as a unique service to be custom-built each time at great expense. But what it does mean is you should be thinking about your entire service delivery in this way:

  • What will help elevate service delivery on most of our ‘products’?
  • Which ‘products’ are in the need of the most attention right now?
  • What is our priority when it comes to providing the best guest experiences across our estate?
  • How can we best support and continually improve those ‘products’?
  • What is the right cadence for change and necessary investment?

Once you view your estate in this way you can start to consider new services and integrations in a more cohesive and holistic way. And, as circumstances change, you can react much faster.

Digital Strategy Workshop 2 - Hospitality | Red Badger

Deploy cross-functional teams

To help execute on your product mindset, you need to adapt how your teams work internally to get things designed, implemented and the necessary change managed.

Traditional working models can do this, but you will start to find bottlenecks halting workflows and incomplete processes preventing the necessary changes that need to happen.

Cross-functional teams, aligned to a particular service (or product) can work autonomously, relentlessly focused on improving the quality of the element they are aligned to.

With the necessary powers and freedoms to execute, cross-functional teams can expedite improvements and implement the required changes. Add in more agile ways of working and rapid test and learn phases, and cross-functional teams become an essential part of your working methodology.

Communicate and manage change

As with any technological improvement there comes disruption. Either to ways of working or to how customers engage. In a rapid test and learn environment, how you manage change is critical.

As part of your cross-functional teams, make sure to include leaders who are versed in managing change. Communicate the reasoning and the value to all stakeholders early, continuously, and solicit feedback at every opportunity.

The more tests you run, the more change you manage, the more disruption you enact and the better you get at communicating it, the better you will get at driving through the improvements needed to create compelling guest experiences.

Are you set up for rapid test and learn?

If you’re considering implementing a more agile approach to your technology deployment and want to understand your current applicability for the practice, book yourself onto a two hour workshop with our experts. Register your space now and discuss your current approach to technology and gather feedback and insights to help you on your journey.

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