It is not an unknown fact anymore that the hotel industry has been transformed and affected to a great extent in terms of guest experience by the advent of digital technology which is continually transforming a guest’s stay and making it better at all costs. From online travel agents, digital booking engines and metasearch services, new technologies have compelled hotel owners to rethink the fundamentals of their relationship with their guests and making their brand more relevant than ever. Yet on the contrary, few things in the hospitality sector have remained remarkably unchanged! Nowadays, a hotel room is not radically different to how it looked two decades ago. In fact, when it comes to technology, many hotels are behind the times but many have adopted it to the fullest and are utilizing it to attract more millennial travelers to boost their hotel sales and revenue.
Hotels often feel held hostage by ratings, feedbacks, and reviews, but property apps, digital concierges and more are helping hotels reach the guest and react far better to their needs, finds a recent report from EyeforTravel. Hotels can now monitor and track guests around their properties using the installed apps that can access the guest’s location or Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tied to keycards. They can then log every guest request through AI-driven concierges operating through chatbots or smart speakers. This means that the guest no longer needs to ring down to front desk. The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), which can be controlled either from a single device in the guest’s room or from an app, means the hotel can now know the guest’s preferred room temperature, what entertainment they watch, when items need to be replaced, and lot more.
Now, armed with these technologies, hotels can personalise down to an individual level for guests they already know. They can also use aggregated data to predict what they should recommend to new guests. Services are even springing up that amalgamate data from many different hotels. By using data from similar properties, hotels can identify patterns in guest behaviour and make recommendations for additional services during the guest’s stay. In this way, hotels can increase customer satisfaction and drive entirely new revenue streams.
In general, hotels are divided into active spaces, which means those which are front-facing to the guest, and passive locations, that is, those at back of house and behind the scenes where technologies that help optimize things such as building systems and hotel operations typically are housed. These areas and their associated equipment tend to form the ‘brain’ of a building, delivering the intangible aspects of the guest experience.
For instance, Marriott properties’ mobile check-in program allows guests to walk up to the location’s desk and get their key without any wait. Now hitting the market is the next step in mobile check-in, in the form of scannable codes that are sent to guests’ phones to provide access to their rooms without a key card. The hardware already is being installed as the standard in many properties and, no doubt, will be the standard across the board within the next five years.
Enticing guests to stay with you has become one of the biggest obstacles in the hotel industry, since guests now have a range of options available to them – many of which are far more affordable than a traditional hotel. What many guests want from hotels also seems to have changed! While some are still looking for the familiar comfort that hotels provide, others are longing for a local experience. Hotels are uniquely equipped to cater for both.
Technology has become critical to attracting and retaining hotel guests, and today that means investing in a wide range of solutions that create immediate and personal engagement. With rising expectations, surprise and delight has been replaced by expected and assumed. Reservations must be easily made via any smart device, guestrooms must facilitate any type of content, networks need to be rock-solid, and data is now your most valuable asset.
To meet escalating guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology this year, according to HT’s 2018 Lodging Technology Study. Their biggest priorities for technology spending, in order, are: payment security, guest room tech, bandwidth, and mobile engagement. Guests want modern technology and associated amenities, and you should provide them. At the same time, don’t invest in technology just so you can say you have cool gadgets. Your gizmos must have a purpose. Now, let us see how technology will make your stay more comfortable in hotels.
1. The internet will be a guest’s utility: A room without electricity? Running water? For a modern hotel, that would be unthinkable. Internet access is now also a standard utility. It doesn’t always have to be free: guests value access to a more secure, higher-speed service, even at a premium. Many hotels offer a tiered system, with free access limited to lower speeds, and higher broadband speeds and data limits for loyalty club members or as a perk for guests who book via the hotel’s preferred channel. Don’t forget, though, the value of peace and quiet: some luxury hotels offer an in-room switch that lets guests block all wireless signals to their phones and computers.
Here’s something else. In Hong Kong, The Upper House brand features yet another type of check-in experience. There, a combination of newer technology and service-orientated attendants begins on the curb where a host greets the guest with an iPad and escorts the person to his room, thereby conducting the guest check-in en route. The transaction is finished in the guest’s room, providing a high level of service and enhancing the luxury experience.
2. Cognitive Automation & Robotics: There are some human actions and even judgments that machines can replicate using robotics and cognitive technologies, according to Statista. Such systems can help hotels automate repeatable tasks—not only to improve efficiency but also to free up the frontline team to engage in more high-value tasks that machines cannot accomplish. The laborious task of blocking rooms, for example, can be automated quite easily using a trained algorithm or “machine”. Doing so will free up the front desk agent to proactively reach out to arriving guests to ensure they’re received with the friendly smile that we mentioned earlier.
The internet is now definitively mobile, having freed itself of the shackles of desktop computers, and even laptops. Mobile telephones, cameras, watches and even eyeglasses are now online. One thing all these devices have in common: batteries that need recharging. Many use proprietary plugs to connect to the device itself, but almost all cables will be compatible with a USB port. Ensure that all power outlets in your rooms feature USB sockets too, so that guests are free of recharge-anxiety. (But keep an eye out for the newest wireless charging technologies – coming soon.)
3. Smarter Room Control: Move over, keycard lock: today’s guests are already enjoying the convenience of keyless room entry. It’s a simple as holding an authorised mobile phone (or watch) near the door’s sensor. Bluetooth, wifi, or another proximity-sensing technology does the rest. No more lost keys, and no more ongoing expenses for lock systems. Once inside the room, your guests will naturally want to settle in and make themselves comfortable. Adjust the climate control, draw the curtains or adjust the shades, look at the room-service breakfast menu, see what’s on television, change the mood lighting, and then maybe ask the concierge a question. Thanks to advances in Smart Home Technology, your guests can do all of this and more with a single, sleek tablet device.
Imagine watching TV in the bathroom mirror during your stay. This is already a reality at several luxury hotels across the globe, where guests can watch high-definition TV in mirrors, usually while enjoying a bathroom, sauna, or swimming pool.
4. Online Housekeeping & Self-Driving Cars: At many hotels, guest can now communicate their needs to the staff through a smartphone. Imagine asking for more towels or a late check-out without getting out of bed. That's what this technology will soon allow all hotel guests to do.Your guests are used to communicating via text message or chat apps. So it makes sense to let them send requests for room service, housekeeping or other services with a simple SMS, using their own phone. Thanks to your hotel’s location-aware technology, your housekeeping will know when a room is vacated, and can respond to housekeeping requests directly on their own mobile devices.
As more and more jurisdictions around the world legislate to authorise self-driving vehicles on public roads, it’s only a matter of time until such vehicles become commercially available in a broader scale. An on-call shuttle service lets your guests get to and from you hotel with a minimum of fuss. And for visitors who wish to explore the sights of your local area independently, but without the stress of negotiating unfamiliar streets, your hotel’s offer of a self-driving vehicle will delight and impress.
So, now you know how technology can make your stay more comfortable in hotels! Download our exclusive and free eBook and know how can you automate most of the hotel tasks via AI-enabled voice-based solutions. Also, with our eBook you will come to know how to boost your hotel sales and revenue with AI-chatbots and make your guests say ‘WOW’ everytime they visit your hotel.