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3 December 2012 | PR 12/215

Understanding emotions can help hotels improve guest experiences

New research from Loughborough University has revealed that understanding emotions can help hotels improve guest experiences.  Hotels can then use customisation strategies in service design to evoke different emotions.

Dr Kathy Pui Ying Lo from the University’s School of the Arts initially undertook research studies to understand conflicting emotions often experienced during hotel stays.  She has now undertaken additional research to examine how hotels can develop their design and service strategies to evoke different emotions.

The research studies involved hotel guests taking photos to show triggers of emotions in hotels, in-depth interviews and analysis of critical incidents.  The studies used principles of psychology and service design to draw implications for hotel design strategies.

Dr Lo identified four prominent conflicting concerns that cause contradicting emotions during hotel stays:

To resolve these conflicts customisation is the key, Dr Lo suggests.  The aim is to offer hotel guests more control of their hotel stay experiences based on their individual needs and wants.  Three common types of customisation strategies enable hotels to evoke different emotions from hotel guests:

With a subtractive strategy, hotels offer the most basic room features and cheap room rate by taking away functional features or service that are not absolutely necessary. Guests may request subtracted features or service depending on their needs, usually with an additional cost.  The intended emotional outcomes include happiness for saving money, contentment for getting value for money and satisfaction from selecting hotel features to spend on.  An example is Tune Hotels, an international hotel chain.

In contrast, hotels using an additive strategy offer comprehensive functional items.  In addition, guests may add special features to try something different or enhance enjoyment. The aim is to promote exploration and discreet enjoyment.  Additive strategies intend to evoke emotions such as amazement, excitement, wonder and delight.  An example is Affinia Hotels, a boutique hotel chain in the USA that offers options such as a duck for the bath, fitness kit, cupcakes and even an acoustic guitar!

By using tailor made strategies, hotels personalise amenities and service to fit each individual guests’ particular needs and preferences.  Hotel staff observe and record guest needs and preferences proactively.  The information is then stored in a database.  Pleasant surprises are staged for individual guests through personalised and meaningful features or service.  Because these exceed guest expectations they create pleasant surprises and make the stay memorable.  For example a guest who arrives at their room to find their favourite drink on the table.

Dr Lo comments: “The nature of service in hotels is shifting.  More hotels are offering guests what they exactly need instead of excessive extras.  Understanding the connections between customisation strategies and guest emotions is useful for hoteliers to design for better emotional impacts of hotel stay experiences.”

Dr Lo will disseminate the research results to the hospitality industry and research community through invited talks.

−ENDS−

For all media enquiries contact:

Alison Barlow
Senior Public Relations Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228696
E: A.J.Barlow@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2011 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the Best Student Experience in England every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 12 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

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