The luxury and hospitality industries have a fundamental dimension that remains to this day – delivering perfect customer service. Whether you enter The Majestic in Kuala Lumpur or Louis Vuitton at Starhill Gallery, customers will expect top-notch and personalised service from entrance to exit.
Malaysia’s hospitality industry has been through an ordeal. Filled with retrenchments, pay cuts and closures throughout COVID-19, the reopening of travel has inadvertently caused a labour shortage among local hotels. In fact, some hotel lobbies have been flooded with disgruntled guests who were forced to wait three to four hours beyond normal check-in time.
Such situations will certainly earn a customer’s ire, and hoteliers can likely forget about expecting a return visit. But what happens when luxury establishments that can’t keep up with high customer expectations?
Catering To Quest For Meaning
The majority of the luxury market will be composed of millennials by 2025, and their decisions are driven by the desire to improve their well-being or bring meaning to their lives. Customers are no longer content to accept exceptional products, as they’re also expecting unique and entertaining experiences that will enrich their lives.
In other markets for example, the luxury watch brand Audemars Piguet has opened a museum in the Vallée de Joux in Switzerland and now welcomes its customers to fully customised apartments instead of stores. An increasing number of luxury retailers, such as Bulgari, are also expanding into the hotel and restaurant business who already operate seven hotels worldwide with plans to open five more in the next few years. Fashion conglomerate Dior has also recently launched their first “Monsieur Dior” pop-up cafe in Ho Chi Minh, and for champagne house Veuve Clicquot – a pop-up hotel in Brisbane.
It is the beginning of a transformation economy where the quest for meaning (exacerbated by COVID-19) among consumers is proving to be a major concern in our daily consumption choices. After a long era of frantic pursuit for value creation through personalisation, companies should now cater to their customers’ transformation and aim to understand their deeper aspirations as it becomes a requirement to achieve success.
Urging Transformation In The Hospitality Labour Market
The transformative economy will spread not only to hospitality but to the entire luxury industry. Affluent guests want experiences that are more enriching, exclusive, and smoother than they already are. Anticipating and responding to this by joining customers in their individual transformation journey is an absolute necessity for the luxury industry. This includes hiring and retaining people who are asking the right questions to understand the real expectations of each client, and changing their behaviour according to the individual characteristics of each customer.
The key skills required to satisfy and cater to the evolved are emotional intelligence, soft skills and customer centricity. These essential qualities are found at the heart of the hospitality industry, and can be easily transferred into luxury settings to help ensure good human interaction and management of VIP customer relations.
(Article attributed: By Dr. Florent Girardin, Assistant Professor of EHL Hospitality Business School)