Guest blog written by Frank Belzer, Senior Vice President of Portfolio Sales for Universal Parks & Resorts
When you think about the difference between a great product and a good product, what comes to mind? The differences between the two are usually far more subtle than the differences between a bad product and a good one, nonetheless they do tend to fall into some clear categories.
The first differentiator might be purely competitive, the great product does something the good product does not, or it does numerous things better than the good product. These “features” are usually pretty objective. There are usually specifications attached to these criteria that validate the performance as factual.
The second differentiator has more to do with personalization – what does this product do for me? How does it fit my lifestyle? These types of differentiators are anything but objective, however they are equally as powerful as the previous ones when it comes to people making decisions. Whether or not your brand lives up to their expectations of ‘good’ or ‘great’ is entirely in their hands.
In the world of leisure travel and hospitality, these same two factors come into play every time guests are determining what a great experience is compared to a merely good experience. However, the weighting has been much more lopsided towards a personal point of view rather than any of the specifications you would find with consumer products. We have had specs based on “stars” (still very subjective), or we could read reviews (even more subjective), and then if we were keen on getting into the details, we could examine room size in square feet, amenities available in the rooms, services available on site etc… but let us be honest, still very subjective.
Now, in the post-COVID world, things are going to change. The need for specific and objective criteria in cleanliness and sanitation will become paramount. Some brands have already tried assuring all potential guests of their commitments when it comes to sanitation. Some have posted “manifestos” on company letterhead with the personal signature of the CEO. All have assigned task forces and working groups to examine their existing processes and “modify” them to fit the new normal.
But all this falls short. They are all opinion-based and highly subjective – not what the guest is asking for at all. Guests are looking for facts. They want to know, so to speak, the gigabytes, the horsepower, the range, the gallons per minute and so on.
How would your brand answer these potential questions coming from a guest:
“Could you guarantee that your rooms are cleaner than anyone else’s?”
“I know you are cleaning the hard services with sanitizers, but what about the sheets and the towels – some of these items have much closer contact with me personally than hard surfaces?”
“Are you using some of the same processes that hospitals are using to keep patients healthy and lessen the spread of pathogens?”
Replying to these questions with a letter or a brand promise is not going to work. People are going to want to know there is an actual system that is being used to provide guarantees and specifics around these questions. There will be levels of certification and standards that we all know are simply a matter of time. Is waiting to be forced to take care of your guest by achieving certain minimum standards something you will be proud of?
What would happen if one of your competitors could offer these guarantees and you could not? Conversely, what would happen if your brand could make such a promise based on science – what a competitive advantage that would be!
I recently decided to help Applied Silver as an advisor, the motivation is not personal gain but a feeling of overwhelming concern for the industry and the people I love so much in this space. We need to do something to get the business going again and that will only happen when people feel comfortable. Applied Silver can help us to do that and do it quickly. If you think the vaccine will change things, you’re wrong — the concern and worry about sanitation are here to stay. It is not often that our industry has had the opportunity to jump ahead and provide true thought leadership as early adopters; we are too often in a position of being entirely reactive. We have an opportunity to change that. Won’t our potential guests be thrilled to see us not just responding to their complaints, but actually anticipating their needs and those of their loved ones?