Fiona Adams, co-founder of The Know, an intelligent mystery guest service for luxury and boutique hotels, shares her best advice for award-winning hospitality.

The Know provides detailed, confidential and qualitative insight from real paying guests. Being part of The Know enables hotels to benchmark their performance, gain proprietary market insight into guest preferences and create individual action plans using the sophisticated and bespoke question-led technology.

Based on her experience with boutique hotels, here’s Fiona Adam’s top five tips for jewellers looking to raise their hospitality game:


Get the basics right
Instead of seeking the next trendy “fad”, luxury guests are searching out near perfect execution of the basics, first and foremost. It doesn’t matter how exciting a “wow” factor is, if a guest has a negative experience related to service, wear and tear or upkeep, the rest becomes inconsequential.

For many luxury hoteliers, the focus is on devising new and ingenious ways to delight and wow their guests, however a surprising statistic came out of a recent study performed by The Know:

“88% of luxury guests felt like ‘the basics’ were not always performed to the standards they expected.”

The evidence stated when “the basics” were not done well, that is by far and away what a guest remembers and will be likely to tell other potential guests. Even if a hotel has a heli-pad, a resident DJ and all the trimmings from a technology perspective, if it is not clean, well maintained and with good levels of service, the negative impact of these factors far outweighs the positive impact of others.

Assess an individual’s appetite for personalisation
Guests increasingly expect personalisation during their stay and a tailored offering that meets their unique needs. Hotels are competing to collate information about their guests, and to use that information to connect on an emotional level with guests in order to customise relevant gestures and facilities.

Gathering guest information, interpreting it, sharing it with the right people at the right time, and intelligently utilizing it to create a guest experience that is meaningful and different is what has and will continue to differentiate hotels from the masses.

Get it right, and a business can develop a more meaningful relationship with their customers, build a loyalty to the brand and encourage someone to return time and again.

On the contrary, overstep a boundary to a level too personal for the individual and a company risks making the customer feel uncomfortable and spied upon — relevance and meaning are key to making personalised gestures feel authentic.

Hire the right people, provide the right training and empower your staff — these are the most critical factors in determining an individual’s appetite for personalisation.

Choose your feedback
The consumption and processing of online reviews may seem to be a full time job, but how much value do they really add?

Authenticity issues aside, TripAdvisor reviews often tell a hotelier very little if the experience was good: “Lovely hotel, you should go,” and a great deal about a very specific issue if the experience fell short of expectations.

Whilst this information is valuable for issue resolution, it often doesn’t indicate what people would like to see, suggestions as to what could have improved or enhanced their stay, or exciting new ideas they have experienced elsewhere — only what they didn’t like about their stay.

There is a similar issue with direct feedback, with extremes being the norm — either everything was great or there are very specific problems that need to be addressed.

Low completion rates, coupled with the guest’s desire not to offend, means that hoteliers often find that responses lack the detailed information they need to better serve both new and returning guests. Retailers should bear this in mind too.

Make your customers your greatest advocates and marketers
Whilst both personal recommendations and TripAdvisor reviews continue to dominate the influencing factors of hotel decision making for luxury guests, one important finding in The Know’s recent study emerged:

“87% of luxury hotel guests would trust a friend’s positive recommendation over negative reviews on TripAdvisor.”

Don’t underestimate the power of a personal recommendation. Consider how to encourage word of mouth referrals — get the basics right, understand your consumer needs and fulfil them to elevate the customer experience.

Understand YOUR customers
In a world of ever-fluctuating trends, expectations and priorities, it is more important than ever for hotels to understand their target demographic and focus on what matters most to them. Key to this is obtaining the right kind of detailed feedback to enable action.

Hoteliers may think that they understand their guests, but is today’s time-poor, polite guest really vested in providing their honest opinion?

If they haven’t enjoyed their stay will they talk with their feet and choose alternate accommodation next time?

Investing in ways to understand their current guests’ perspectives and predicting future needs will be paramount to luxury hotels’ success — and the same goes for luxury jewellers too.

Customer preferences will continue to evolve. Whilst certain priorities will always remain constant, it is important for jewellery retailers to stay well informed of changing consumer needs and to, where appropriate, adjust their service accordingly.

Fiona Adams, co-founder, The Know
Fiona Adams joined forces with business partner Mané Ryatt in 2016 to create The Know. With their extensive experience as guests at luxury and boutique hotels, they recognised a disjoin between the true guest perspective and the actual feedback received by hoteliers. Drawing on 15 years’ experience in investment banking, Fiona developed the actionable intelligence service and bespoke technology, which enables hoteliers to receive detailed, confidential, qualitative and authentic feedback from real paying guests. The aim of The Know is to make great hotels exceptional, by drawing out the fine detail which can really serve to elevate the guest experience.