As a guest in a hotel, we are, hopefully, blissfully unaware of all the planning, organisation, evaluation and adjustments required to meet and exceed our guest experience.
At every touchpoint along the customer journey, from check-in to check-out, there is one primary goal for every hotelier: to ensure their guest has an exceptional experience. Whether it is ensuring dietary needs are met at breakfast, or the valet bringing your car around in a timely manner, every interaction is a potential ripple in the ocean of customer service.
As hospitality is one of the most customer-centric industries out there, keeping the customer happy is a skill and an art form applied on both a global and local basis. From independent boutique hotels to multinational hotel chains, this need for a “glocalised” approach provides the perfect opportunity to think outside of the box when it comes to problem-solving.
Design thinking has recently been introduced to meet this need. Once traditionally reserved for designers aiming to improve the user experience of a product, design thinking is not just a process, it is a discipline that solves problems and redesigns tasks from a customer’s viewpoint. By using a fresh approach to address common problems, it ensures the focus embraces the core identity of the brand while empathising with the user.
But what does design thinking truly involve? Teams are encouraged to concentrate not only on demographics but to place themselves in the role of the customer, understanding their needs, frustrations and emotions. This provides a variety of tools, such as personas and empathy maps, to frame the challenge presented.
Another aspect involves “ideating”, an updated version of brainstorming, generating ideas and then re-examining them from multiple angles. By honing in on the problem, and evaluating and re-evaluating it from multiple angles, it allows room for growth and innovation and room for new solutions.
Hospitality is not alone in the implementation of design-thinking. In the past few years, it has been introduced to the boardroom of many major corporations to open up minds and conversations. Design-thinking companies such as Apple, Coca-Cola, IBM, Nike, Procter & Gamble and Whirlpool, have outperformed the S&P 500 over the past 10 years by an extraordinary 211%, according to a 2015 study by the Design Management Institute.
At IHTTI School of Hotel Management, a hospitality management school in Switzerland and the first of its kind to offer Undergraduate and Postgraduate studies in Hospitality and Design Management, design thinking has been fully incorporated into their studies. Jaco Von Wielligh, Academic Director, explains further:
Emotional engagement and authentic interactions between the hotel, staff and guests need to become the new benchmark. We are seeing more and more of the hospitality industry blending design into their strategies, as Hoteliers recognise that change and adapting to new approaches and methods of thinking are no longer an option and has instead become a necessity. Using design thinking to reboot their strategies is precisely where they need to start.
The school has also recently been accredited by the Chartered Society of Designers, an internationally recognised body within the design profession. Alongside partnerships with hospitality leaders, including HBA Hirsch Bedner Associates and John Paul, the luxury concierge company, IHTTI graduates are fully prepared for this new era of hospitality.
If you would like to learn more about the courses on offer, please visit: ihtti.com or contact Ms. Rebecca Mars ().