Mass customization is a production and marketing technique that combines the personalization of custom-made products at the latest stage of manufacturing with low cost. In the mass customization process, goods are modified to satisfy a specific customer need. For instance, bicycles can be produced in mass and adapted (customized) in the “boutique” for each client. With the industrialization of hospitality (as we call hospitality “industry”) the process and products (rooms, F&B, etc) are more and more “standardized” to increase the productivity and to reduce costs. The “commoditization” became a danger for the industry since the client does not feel any more that he is a unique guest.

Globally, we can observe an important trend: As a reaction against the globalization (?), our word became national and community centred. More and more people reject centralized decisions and uniformity. It is probably one of the reason why a country, such as Switzerland, with a high respect of the “confederation philosophy” and real democracy, succeeds to manage crises and changes.  We are leaving now an important shift: on one hand, we can assist to a fantastic grow of the (virtual) communities and a desire of co-sharing everything and, on the other hand, we can see the “revolt” of the Individual who was forgotten from the welfare of the globalization and was replaced by a uniformed mass. As a consequence, at the economic level, the hoteliers have to adapt their strategy to this new reality.

More hotels will make the effort to take the guest experience to higher, personal levels. This experience will become more customized, not just differentiated. Engaged customers will have a higher level of trust and commitment, and they will be more close to the brand. Personalization is becoming a well-recognized and well-discussed term in the hospitality industry, and for good reason. As competition to attract consumer’s attention in the noisy digital environment increases, hotels are looking for any edge that can set them apart and keep the consumer coming back. Big data and cognitive analytics create more predictability on customer experience. New in-room technologies, augmented reality, OLED wallpapers, bathrooms as personalized SPA, etc. design a unique environment. The marriage of the local traditions, rites and scape with the property, let the guest to immerse in an authentic and unforgettable experience.

To increase profitability, hoteliers will need to break through the consumer perception of commoditization. Better educate and digital managers will analyze customer needs and preferences based on big data analyze. Technologies will enable the delivery of personalized room environment and services that will help increase customer satisfaction, lower service costs and improve guest loyalty. For better and specialized services – delivered according to current preferences – the guests will be willing to pay a premium.

Paradoxically, it is standardization (of the back office process) that will pave the way not only to control costs, but also to provide the differentiated customer experience guests crave. In this highly commoditized hospitality industry, the opportunity exists for aggressive hotel chains to set themselves apart from their competition through dedicated efforts to personalize guest services and increase guest intimacy. For those hotels that wish to join an elite group of pacesetters, personalization of “the points of touch” through mass customization provide high opportunities.

(This new article is based on our Lausanne Report 2030. If you want to now more about the future of Hospitality, go to our original text in http://info.ehl.edu/hospitality-industry-trends and stay in tune with the future of hospitality at the next think-tank “Window 2 the future”, April 2018. Do take a look to www.lhcconsulting.com to see more about us.)

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Ray Inius Director Business Development at Lausanne Hospitality Consulting

Prof. Dr Ray F. Iunius is the author of various academic and professional articles published by journals in the management of services, technology, and innovation. He is also the author of a number of books such as « Industrie de l’accueil », « Hôtellerie de Luxe », « La gestion des spas », “Un Hôtel, un modèle ?” in de Boeck editions and co-author of the “Lausanne Report on the future of Hospitality Industry.”

He is the founder of the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne Institute of Technology and Entrepreneurship (EHLITE), the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (INTEHL), the Students Business Projects (SBP), the EHLITE magazine, and the Chair of Innovation Paul Dubrule.

Ray earns a BSc, MS and PhD in Technical Sciences from the University of Transylvania Brasov and an MBA and PhD from the Faculty of Business and Economics (HEC) of the Lausanne University. He is currently Director of Business Development at Lausanne Hospitality Consulting, an Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne and Swiss Hotel Association company.