COVID-19 has changed consumer behaviour. So has travel.
In China, where the economy is recovering, the number of trips during the May 2021 bank holiday was around 230 million, up by 45% from the previous year. And the purpose and form of travel are changing: compared to the same period in 2019, the number of nights spent in hotels has increased by around 20% — it was 30% for high-end hotels. Safety and security have become important travel needs, and the hotel itself is the main purpose of the trip, meaning that it becomes even more a destination for entertainment.
The Ned, a five-star hotel in London, is a brand that has meticulously designed entertaining customers down to the last detail.
The hotel is housed in a building designed by British architect Edwin Lutyens (known as Ned) in 1924 as the headquarters of the Midland Bank, and opened in 2017 in the City, London's financial district. The main differentiator, according to Gareth, Managing Director is the 3,000 square metres of ground floor space. The former banking hall is now home to 10 restaurants and is open to non-guests.
A human being is exposed to about 34 GB of information a day, and has about 7,000 thoughts. And it is said that only 2% of them are remembered a month later.
From a neuroscience point of view, however, there are some interesting clues that can help us create a customer experience that is recognisable and memorable.
1) Stories help us remember
A story is 22 times more likely to be remembered than simple statistics or facts. Indeed, we remember the backgrounds, personalities and beliefs of the characters in a two-hour movie, as well as how the story unfolds and ends. When we "structure and make sense" of abstract things, we are more likely to remember them, and interestingly, more likely to be moved by them.
A story is 22 times more likely to be remembered than simple statistics or facts
The Ned has a story to tell in its appearance and history. Its location, with its gates in the heart of Europe's most prestigious financial district, the historic Grade I listed building in the 1920s, and the brand name of "The Ned" whose origin is a nickname of the architect who brought the iconic building into the world. It is timeless, grand and romantic. Furthermore, the Ned project is brought by Nick Jones, the entrepreneur behind Soho House. Indeed, the cast for the story is endless…
2) Five senses help create meaning
When information is processed with the five senses, it is associated with meaning. This process is called "semantic encoding" and this makes us remember things better and retain them for longer. This process is easier when there is "consistency", which is an important aspect of great customer experience design.
"Semantic encoding" makes us remember things better and retain them for longer
The first thing anyone who walks through the ground floor entrance of The Ned will notice is the Nickel Bar stage. In the middle of the aisle, there is a raised circular stage, subtly lit by spotlights, where top-notch musicians set the tone for the space and time about to start. It is a device that heightens the anticipation of the experience to come. In addition, ten unique and extensive range of restaurants will delight the eyes, nose and palate.
Like acting on a film set, the customer co-creates time with the staff and other customers. For the customer, The Ned brand provides a place and a sense of value as a platform for self-satisfaction. The "IKEA effect," in which people overestimate the value of things they have made or been involved in, works to bring greater satisfaction to customers.
The Ned's visual identity is based on the shape of the double heightened wrought iron windows that surround the building and the colour of the 92 green verdite marble columns in the banking hall. The visual identity, an extension of real experience is where all the customer experience is accumulated.
3) Peak-end rule
We don't remember everything perfectly, but we remember experiences in our lives as a series of snapshots rather than a complete catalogue of events; we do remember things in a biased way.
We remember things that were emotionally intense points — good or bad. Another point to note is that it is easy to remember the "end" of experiences like "All is well that ends well".
It is easy to remember the "end" of experiences
The last thing people probably do before leaving a hotel is to go to the toilet. At The Ned, as you go there on the lower ground floor, you cannot miss the entrance to the members-only bar. Its entrance is the original vault which used to be a safe deposit box, 20-tonne and two metres thick. It once held around £300 million. It's a very impressive place, a final reminder of what The Ned was like 100 years ago.
If you look at the design of the customer experience from a scientific perspective, you may find that what you felt right intuitively can actually be explained logically.
And while the above has focused on the hard aspect, it goes without saying that the same perspective from the soft aspect plays an important role in shaping unforgettable experiences in hospitality brands. The "unexpected" experience created by a staff member is a good example of a peak moment.
By taking a holistic view of the customer journey from start to finish, and not only looking at how to improve current services, but also how to create one from zero with viewpoints (stories, meaning, peak-end rules), you can create enduring memories for your guests. This will lead to an increase in the time spent in your hotel and thus will be the basis for an increase in sales.