Optimizing the Customer Experience: Lorena Kurtjian Hernandez on Medallia’s Mission and the Latest Industry Trends

Lorena Kurtjian HernandezLorena Kurtjian Hernandez is the global solution principal focused on Travel & Hospitality and Restaurants at Medallia. She is an ardent advocate of marrying customer and employee feedback with operational and performance data to continuously improve Medallia’s customer and employee experience strategy. Prior to Medallia, Hernandez was the director of customer experience transformation at United Airlines, where she led the Inflight Experience strategy. During her more than 20 years at United, she held various leadership roles in the CX Strategy & Analytics organization, as well as being a CX and EX practitioner by defining and driving innovation, customer, and employee initiatives built on customer and employee feedback.

Hernandez has an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, specializing in Customer Strategy and Econometrics & Statistics. She has a BS from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and is certified in Change Management. Hernandez shares with Adrienne Weil, vice president of strategic partnerships and business development for the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), what Medallia is all about, the innovations that are changing the company’s approach, how the industry is evolving, and more.

Can you give a bit of background on your company?

Medallia is the pioneer and market leader in customer, employee, citizen, and patient experience. As the No. 1 enterprise experience platform, Medallia Experience Cloud is the experience system of record that makes all other applications customer and employee aware. Since 2001, Medallia has been empowering travel and hospitality organizations with meaningful and actionable insights from every brand interaction across the entire guest journey. With our industry-leading experience platform, hospitality organizations have an active pulse on evolving traveler expectations, with intelligent tools that prioritize strategic opportunities and enable every employee to create exceptional guest experiences that influence promoters and build brand loyalty.

What innovations have changed the way Medallia approaches its hospitality clients over the past few years?

Digital behavioral analytics enable travel and hospitality organizations to identify points of confusion and frustration during the online research and booking phase of the guest journey, so they can make strategic improvements to their website and app that will increase bookings and conversion rates. Consumer behavioral intelligence and benchmarking tools help hospitality organizations understand what is driving traffic to nearby properties and use that insight to better target and convert prospective guests, increasing market share from local competitors. With personalized guest-messaging tools and real-time alerts, the on-property guest experience is transformed by uncovering friction points in the moment and enabling rapid service recovery, while also driving revenue through targeted promotions. Unified social feedback analytics, personalized social review requests, and auto-generated alerts reveal actionable guest experience trends, increase online review volume, and enable employees to streamline responses that build loyalty. In addition, accurate and intelligent speech and text analytics optimize call center operations and uncover trending guest topics and sentiments for strategic guest experience decisions.

How did you first hear about AHLA and what made you want to get involved with the organization?

We first heard about AHLA through their industry events and were impressed by our shared relationships within the industry. Many of AHLA’s members use Medallia to deliver a memorable brand experience for every guest.

Medallia is passionate about helping hoteliers do what they do best: serve guests. Our unique solutions allow travel and hospitality organizations to listen and act on guest feedback, ensuring that positive, memorable experiences are created whenever possible so that guests come back. Like us, AHLA is committed to improving the industry through its advocacy, promotion of members and strategic issues, and industry unification, so hoteliers can create an exceptional experience for their guests, employees, and communities in which they reside.

How do you see the hotel industry evolving over the next five years?

As guest expectations continue to evolve and demand for personalized real-time engagement grows, the hotel industry will invest even more in innovation and technology to enable these personalized experiences. These technologies will allow hoteliers to efficiently interact with and deliver experiences tailored to each guest, while at the same time optimizing the efficiency of hotel staff and reducing overall costs.

I also believe that over the next five years, hotels will be doubling down on investments in their employees. The hotel industry could not have survived the last two years without the efforts and dedication of its employees, and with the current labor shortages continuing to affect the industry, hotels will be investing more resources in attracting, training, developing, and retaining their staff. The connection between the delivery of exceptional guest experiences and a great employee experience has never been stronger, and investing in their most important asset to ensure they are set up for success will be a top priority for the industry.

What do you like most about being in the hotel industry?

I love that at the core, the hotel industry is about serving and providing a hospitable experience to people from all backgrounds. Working with hotels that are consistently looking for ways to embed and act on guest feedback across their operations is very rewarding. By partnering with our hotel clients, I have the opportunity to experience first-hand the passion and dedication that people in the industry exhibit toward the mission of making every guest experience one that is memorable.

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Adrienne Weil is vice president of strategic partnerships and business development at the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA). Weil is responsible for the design and implementation of a comprehensive growth strategy to stimulate incremental growth in AHLA’s premier partner program.