Designing The Guest Experience

Customer Loyalty Through Neurocost - By Osvaldo Torres Cruz


The world of hospitality is full of essential concepts that determine the positive results to be obtained. One of them is, without a doubt, business competitiveness that arises from the constant growth of hotel chains and, consequently, from the number of offers to their main customer: the dearest guest.

Hotel businesses are, above all, immersed in catching the attention of the potential client to choose them and, therefore, keeping high and permanent rates of occupancy to increase their revenues.

However, the greatest challenge does not lie in catching the clients, but rather in winning them, that is, once they experience the product and its services, in such a way that they repeat their choice over and over again; in other words, wining their loyalty.

Much have been said and discussed about the most efficient strategies to win the guest´s loyalty. However, in this paper I want to share a new concept to be considered in this fascinating and challenging issue: the neurocost.

The brain is the most important organ of the human body, because it not only allows us to carry out all the functions that determine our existence and survival, but also defines who we are in terms of identity, what we do in terms of our behavior and what we can achieve on this basis.

In order to perform all the above functions, and many others, our brain needs a large amount of energy mainly coming from glucose. According to specialists, our brain can consume 104, 4 grams of glucose per day, and expends about 20% of the total daily energy consumption. As an odd data, with a daily intake of 2.200 kcal duing a 70 year-old life, we would have consumed a total of 2, 67 tons of sugar. To have an idea of how expensive the human brain is in comparison with other species, chimps only consume a 13 % of this amount, smaller mammals like the mouse an 8.5%, and the average mammal 5%. This is so, because they lack two highly energy-demanding processes we humans have: learning and memory. We could then say, with a little margin of error, that our brain is the most expensive organ there is.

The above indicates that our brain is ¨greedy¨ and it does ¨think economically¨ in terms of extra energy consumption. Our brain is made up of a network of neuronal circuits that develop as we build in information from the world around us in terms of neuronal links, a process known as synapsis, which consumes energy. This is why once they are formed, they integrate to create maps or schemes that make us act in a routine and automatic way to save ¨fuel¨.

From this, we can deduce that everything that stimulates an extra-energy expenditure will be interpreted by the brain as dangerous, so it will generate a rejection or separation behavior, in other words, a negative neurocost. In hospitality, this means that, during his/her stay, the guest will create negative thoughts and feelings, such as doubt, distrust, insecurity, frustration, anger, rage, feel deceived, ignored, belittled and treated as a thing: Thus, the brain is subjected to an increasing stress due to the high consumption of energy which represents a negative neurocost.

On the other hand, if the stay at the hotel is turned into an experience full of positive emotions, feelings and behaviors that make the brain reach an energetically stable balance state, its reward centers will be activated because there is a pleasant energy saving condition, and so the brain will try to reach the environment and conditions to experience this again because of positive neurocost in terms of saving energy.

In the hotel business, this positive neurocost is expressed every time the guest feels secure, not worried about his/her needs, because the guest knows someone will foresee and provide what he/she is looking for, so his/her brain is ¨at ease¨

In brief, we can say that the higher the level of sacrifice of the guest, the higher the negative value of neurocost of his/her brain which make the guests take distance from the hotel that promotes an extra energy comsumption. On the contrary, if we enhance guest satisfaction, we will be providing positive valences to the brain neurocost, thus facilitating the preference of the guest for the hotel, that is, winning the loyalty of the guest.

If you want to increase the percentage of repeat guests, ask yourself what neurocost levels are relevant to the products and related services you offer. I hope the answer will help you to position your property in the brain of the guests, for this is where true loyalty lies.

Osvaldo Torres Cruz

Experiential Hospitality Consultancy

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