How Can Technology Deliver A Better Hotel Experience?
Technology can no longer remain in the foreground of the hotel industry. Compared to companies such as Uber, the hotel industry has been behind in utilising technology to its full potential. But how can technology be used to provide insight into consumer’s minds?
Every consumer wants to experience a hotel differently. From the level of face-to-face customer service to how much air con is used in a room, consumers are expecting increasingly a personal, catered experience to their stay.
“Over the next ten years, hotels will empower guests with incredible levels of hyper-personalisation through mobile devices. They will provide an utterly tailored experience.” -Nikhil Gupta, Director Hotels, Skyskanner
It’s also important to consider just exactly why somebody is staying. Is it for business, leisure or both? Is it a family staying or a solo traveller? And then demographics such as age range, household income and more - all of these statistics can inform hotel marketers to create the right experience for guests.
The Booking Experience - Understanding What Consumers Want From Their Hotel Stays
Each individual consumer wants to book hotel rooms in different ways and each consumer, moreover, has different preferences as to what they want from their hotel. Various hotel brands are already taking this opportunity to understand the needs of their guests.
Hilton Hotels, for example, allow you to choose your own room and what you want in your hotel room on arrival via their app. They can also provide a digital key to 200 hotels and can save hotels you’ve booked previously, to make booking your next journey even easier.
Hilton Hotels attract a large demographic, due to the iconic status of the brand. By adding little touches to each traveller’s booking experience - they retain a personalised experience for each consumer, regardless of demographic.
But some brands are not even asking the hotel traveller to provide any information at all, they’ve already obtained it. Sheraton Bratislava are using customer’s social profiles to customise stays. Publicly shared information on social media allows Bratislava to design welcome gifts, ideas for trips to show they care about each individual that stays.
This caters to each individual and with the growing use of AI and automated technology, information like this can be found easily to cater to each consumer without extra time needed. With the rise and uptake of technology and social media, hotel brands can obtain information easily to the point where hotel travellers, if anything, are shocked not to receive a personalised experience.
Checking In & Out
Long gone are the days of solely checking in with paper and card, technology has introduced a variety of ways travellers can check in! The amount of face-to-face customer interaction travellers want is dependent on a variety of factors, often driven by the guest's preferences.
A business traveller will for example, want to be as efficient as possible, with as little effort required for check-in as possible. Whilst a purely leisure trip or an older age market may want face-to-face interaction for check-in. But does the hotel industry even need check-in cards after all?
Starwood Hotels & Resorts offer a smartphone keyless room entry. This new technology is available through their Starwood Preferred Guest Loyalty program and it definitely gives an incentive for consumers to sign up! This technology appeals to younger markets and makes it more likely for them to obtain emails from a younger age demographic.
And if you don’t want keyless entry and would rather check in manually and get a keycard, Andaz hotels provides a truly luxurious experience. Visitors merely need to arrive in their lounge area, receive complimentary drinks and check in when ready. Technology in this case, is natural and visitors less tech-savvy don’t have to actively use technology to take part.
Once Checked In…
The technological hotel experience doesn’t stop after check in! Hotel travellers want to a room that can adapt to them. Whether it’s what beverages are in the mini-fridge or the temperature of the room, consumers want to feel like a hotel room is their own space.
You may have heard on the grapevine about Facebook messenger and Whatsapp incorporating ‘chatbots’ into their software, allowing brands to directly message consumers. This could be an invaluable resource for hotels. Hotel travellers could message directly the concierge asking for something to be delivered, instantly to their room. Not only does it offer a human touch, but it’s also highly efficient.
Apple’s Siri has also been recruited as part of the ongoing push with technology. Requests such as, "Siri, raise the temperature to 68 degrees," or, "Siri, turn out the bathroom light," shows that technology in hotels is becoming much more embedded into the hotel marketing landscape.
Contacting the hotel staff will be done in the way that suits the guest, for example, with a few simple taps on your smartphone. Hotel technology at its best!
After check out…
A hotel guest’s experience doesn’t just stop when their stay does. Nurturing and maintaining an ongoing relationship with hotel travellers can be made far easier if technology is utilised.
Loyalty programs are the most obvious way in which hotels can nurture a relationship. Offering incentives for consumers to like your hotel’s facebook page, post on instagram or tweet them are great ways to maintain a relationship. Kimpton Hotels are a great example of a hotel chain making use of social media to maintain relationships with consumers.
CRM systems are also continually collecting data about hotel visitors. Personal preferences are saved automatically into the hotel’s database, allowing hotel marketers to get down to the basics of who their visitors actually are.
It’s estimated that only 10-15% of travellers eat in a hotel. But Mark Hope, Executive Director of Brand Development at Coast Hotels states ‘We can slice and dice the data so that we can get, say, this subset of guests to stay with us on a leisure rate that is all about food and beverage, or a better parking deal, or whatever is important to those specific guests.” CRM systems are a great way to collect data about hotel visitors and also maintain a personalised touch.
Virtual Reality and wearable technology is also a growing market to be taken advantage of. Showcasing hotel rooms, destinations and experiences via wearable tech is a great example. Wearable technology is becoming more common with each passing day, and hotels could do well to take advantage of it!
Technology is advancing at a quicker pace with each day and hotels still have plenty of room to take advantage of it. The hotel experience is different for each visitor and it’s important to offer a personalised experience for each traveller.