The Age of Assistance

Now that people can use their phones to talk to family and friends, read a book, get a ride, order a pizza, watch a movie, and in general buy anything they can imagine — seamlessly, with a minimum of clicks — their expectations are being redefined. Now they want to have that type of experience no matter what they’re buying.

It’s all part of living in the age of assistance, and Gopi Kallayil will help figure out what it means for hospitality marketing at HSMAI’s 2019 Digital Marketing Strategy Conference at the New York Marriott Marquis on Jan. 23. “Consumers have become more curious, demanding, and inpatient,” Kallayil, chief evangelist of brand marketing for Google, said in a recent interview with HSMAI. “Therefore, the brands that are succeeding are doing it by being present across all touchpoints between the consumer and the product or service. They are being personal. They understand you as a unique individual, and they are able to respond and give you the service that you need.”

What’s an example of an innovative consumer experience in the age of assistance?

Domino’s Pizza. It took 35 steps when they originally had online ordering. Once they realized that a third of their orders are coming from mobile devices, they optimized and took it down to five clicks. And you’d have thought they did really well, but they’ve gone from five clicks to one click — just one click to order a pizza. You’d think at that point you would stop, but they went to zero clicks last year. The app by default brings up your regular location and your favorite pizza that you always order, and if you don’t do anything for 10 seconds it goes and places the order for you. That’s zero clicks.

In the future, you can imagine a world where you don’t place the order — where a service provider like Amazon will figure out that you are out of toothpaste and the toothpaste will show up at your door. If they over-delivered, they’ll take it back or it’ll be free, or something like that. The crux of it is, consumers are looking toward organizations to be of assistance, to reduce the friction between them and these brands. And brands are being of assistance to the consumers by being personal, being present on all touchpoints, and being quick.

How are hotels doing when it comes to delivering that kind of experience?

They are relatively better compared to certain industries like insurance. But within the travel sector, I would say, quite backward. Compare airlines with hotels. You can check into a flight from your taxi; most hotels would not allow you to. The phone has become the boarding pass, and despite security and all that you can just flash your phone and get on a plane; you can’t use your phone to get into a room. You walk into a hotel in Philadelphia, the staff will not know anything about you — they don’t know who you are, even though that information is available.

The hotel industry is several years behind the overall hospitality industry. They’ve done quite a lot of things to automate and use technology, but compared to what is available — I’m not talking about advanced robots serving us or using artificial intelligence, just basic technology and information — they can be more sophisticated.

How should hotels be marketing to consumers?

The brands that are winning in today’s day and age are being of assistance to the consumer. They are not simply just blasting marketing messages. They are asking the question, how do you as an individual interact with me as an apparel brand or as an auto brand? And then, how can I take friction out of the system to make it easy and smooth for you across all of the touchpoints?

For the hotel industry, the challenge I am throwing out to them is, let’s say there’s a family of four thinking of a vacation and thinking of your property. From the time they start dreaming to the planning stage to the booking stage to the actual travel and experience — you want to ask, how is my organization showing up for them? What else can we do to smooth that process and be of assistance?

Insight Type: Articles