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Hospitality Digital Experience Tourism

How to create competitive guest experiences with Hero Moments

By Cierra Dobson, Strategy director

Rufus Leonard


The Drum Network article

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April 11, 2022 | 6 min read

In its latest white paper, design and technology agency Rufus Leonard explores how to create competitive, memorable guest experiences using brand and technology. One key way to differentiate is to establish your Trust Moments and elevate your Hero Moments. Cierra Dobson, strategy director from Rufus Leonard, suggests how.

Rufus Leonard on how brands can utilize surges in staycations.

Rufus Leonard on how brands can utilize surges in staycations

After much turbulence for the hospitality industry – between Brexit-induced staff shortages, lockdowns and travel restrictions – consumer expectations and preferences have shifted dramatically. Coupled with fresh global uncertainty and a cost-of-living crisis, the appetite for domestic travel remains strong.

According to staycation provider Hoseasons, 84% of 2021 UK staycationers planned to do so again and 52% were planning at least one UK-based holiday in 2022. Hoseasons’s summer 2022 bookings were up 82% v the same point in 2019 for summer 2020 holidays, and bookings across 2022 were up 62%.

To stand out in this growing crowd, travel providers should now invest time and resources into creating unique, personalized and differentiated guest experiences. From awareness to booking and in-room to post-travel, all digital experiences should be seamless and memorable for all the right reasons. That’s where Trust Moments and Hero Moments come in.

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What are Trust Moments?

Trust Moments are about anticipating and removing potential frustrations from the journey. Think about the times in which speed, ease and clarity are most important to guests using a digital channel, for example booking a room or requesting toothpaste from the front desk. The goal is to build trust and confidence by meeting the guest’s needs quickly and seamlessly.

Contactless technology is a great way to deliver these Trust Moments. The combination of Covid-19 and rapid consumer adoption of mobile devices has pushed contactless to the forefront of many service industries. But for hospitality it’s not just a way to deliver service – it’s a powerful tool to gather real-time customer feedback, which will ultimately lead to better service and more satisfied guests. Contactless tools allow for far more instantaneous feedback, granting accommodation providers the chance to make up for shortcomings while the guest is still in the hotel.

In October 2021 Amazon launched its beefed-up industry-specific virtual assistant, Alexa Smart Properties for Hospitality. Early adopter The Mercure Hyde Park Hotel became the first UK hotelier to integrate the solution, enabling guests to ask the voice assistant to adjust light and heat controls, stream audio and video content, set alarms and provide answers about hotel amenities. They can even ask for towels – all in a contactless, seamless way.

When do Trust Moments become Hero Moments?

Hero Moments build on and ‘level up’ these Trust Moments to deliver distinctive and memorable digital experiences that delight guests.

To truly bring brand to the forefront of such experiences, it’s important that these Hero Moments feel like a manifestation of the brand promise and personality. For example, when Florida’s Legoland Pirate Island Hotel added Alexa for Hospitality to guest rooms, they went one step further to create the ‘wow’ factor for young guests, with pirate-themed bedtime stories, pirate jokes and an in-room treasure hunt, according to the Alexa Skills Kit Blog, May 2021.

Hero Moments give your guests unique digital experiences that distinguish your brand from competitors, and don’t necessarily need to involve such innovative technology as Alexa. It can be as simple as distilling what makes your brand special into digital executions.

Evaluate your experiences to establish your Hero Moments:

To decipher what your Hero Moments are, ask yourself some specific questions:

  • What do we exist to do?

  • How do we help customers experience that mission and purpose?

  • In which ways do we create emotionally-driven experiences?

  • What value do we provide guests through social connection?

For each question, find a best current example and list the channels it’s delivered through. Which of those moments is the ‘hero’ that keeps you ahead of the competition? Which is the ‘zero,’ where your brand misses expectations? Which are you coming close on that could become a competitive advantage?

As the tourism industry continues to mitigate its way through the seemingly never-ending impact of the pandemic, a strategic brand-led approach to elevated digital experiences will help leaders differentiate their hospitality brands and turn guests into passionate advocates.

There’s no need to overthink it. Behind these Hero Moments lie very simple ideas, with your brand (and why customers love it) at the heart.

Download ‘How to create competitive staycation experiences with brand and technology’ to discover more actionable insights on:

  • The state of play in the UK hospitality industry

  • How to use brand to connect what your marketing says with what your experiences deliver

  • How to roadmap your digital experience activities against business KPIs

  • How to properly collect, store and use first-party data to deliver personalized experiences

As a digital-first agency with more than 30 years of experience building category-defining service brands, Rufus Leonard can help you take what’s special about your offer and elevate it into simply brilliant experiences. Get in touch at

Hospitality Digital Experience Tourism

Content by The Drum Network member:

Rufus Leonard

Rufus Leonard is an independent agency who builds category-defining service brands through design & technology. We act as the catalyst for service brands with...

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