Episode 89. Bruce Harkness on Personalised Customer Experience, Accommodation Based Communalisation & Industry Shaping Millennials

Bruce Harkness on Personalised Customer Experience, Accommodation Based Communalisation & Industry Shaping Millennials

Bruce Harkness is the Senior Vice President of HR and Customer Experience at Wyndham Destinations, Asia Pacific.  Wyndham Destinations is a global company which develops, markets and sells vacation ownership interests in approximately 110 countries. I was excited to chat with Bruce for this week’s episode of the ‘That Bad Review’ Podcast series, about providing great customer experience.

Personalised Customer Experience

Bruce and I agree that to provide a great customer experience, businesses need to deliver more traditional customer service. It’s no longer just about how guests are greeted and checked in at a hotel. Nor is having an efficient room cleaning process, or prompt room service deliveries enough to satisfy customers.  Guests are looking for a whole experience. Guests are seeking experiences that stand out, moments they can tell others about. A personalised experience that makes them feel special and has them wanting to return. This is what is important to guests today. Bruce explains, to provide a personalised experience, staff should look for opportunities. Such as recommending a local restaurant, or including a free bottle of wine in a guest’s room. We agree in the importance noting snippets of information provided by a guest, so that experiences can be tailored.

Accommodation Based Communalisation

Bruce suggests that employers who force staff to strictly follow policy and procedures when dealing with customers, results in depersonalisation. Employees become consumed by making sure they are carrying out procedures correctly and ticking all the boxes. This results in staff often missing moments to truly connect with guests.  To combat this, Wyndam Destinations are bringing both guests and staff together through incorporating communal areas within their properties. Not only do the areas provide an opportunity for guests to mingle, staff are encouraged to use the spaces to connect with guests. Staff are urged to be their authentic selves, and interact with guests in a way they would like to be interacted with themselves. Bruce has noticed that the best service ratings often come from staff who make the customer service experience special, usually just by being themselves.

Industry Shaping Millennials

Feedback from Millennials is shaping the industry, with the layout of hotels becoming more communal, one trend driven by this generation. According to Bruce, Millennials demand the community feel, along with access to 24/7 high-speed WI-FI. They prefer accommodation options offering high quality food and beverage outlets. They want a room that will cater to all of their needs. Bruce suggests that adhering to the needs and wants of the Millennial traveller and keeping up with advancements in technology as key practices in keeping up with changes in the industry.

In this episode Bruce and I also discuss:

  • Bruce’s book ‘Performance Matters’, a career coaching guide for millennials
  • The importance of resilience, self-belief and following dreams
  • Contributing beyond the bottom line through sustainability programs
  • Artificial Intelligence and automatic check in
  • The growth of the inbound Chinese market
  • Playing to one’s strengths

Link to podcast