Of all the articles we publish here at The Booking Factory, there’s one theme that runs true — how you can improve the guest experience.
We live in a world where customer expectations have grown substantially. Over the last decade, technology has fuelled our desire for immediacy, convenience and instant gratification.
This demand extends beyond the hospitality industry too. With every new app and gadget, our eyes are opened to new possibilities that push the bar of our expectations.
With our mobile devices, we can do and see just about anything. There’s no doubt mobile technology has fundamentally changed the way we live our lives. Many of us can’t leave the house without one, or go an hour without checking emails, browsing online or sharing on social media.
As recent data reveals almost half of travel searches begin on a smartphone, the booking process is just the start. The real technological magic can present itself when the guest arrives.
Hotels are now faced with the opportunity to use smart technology to create meaningful, customised experiences and enhance their entire stay.
As a whole, hotels have a lot of catching up to do. Although many of the big players such as the Marriott, Hilton and the Four Seasons have rolled out various mobile apps to make personalisation a priority, the vast majority are still stuck in the past.
Here are just a few of the technologies the leading hotels use now.
Mobile check in and check out has been available for a few years. At the Marriott, they allow guests to check in before they arrive using their mobile app. Towards the end of their stay, guests are alerted that mobile checkout is available. The app asks for their email address where their bill will be sent out, allowing them to bypass reception altogether.
At Starwood Hotels & Resorts, they also allow guests to check in before they arrive. But the hotel goes one step further with a virtual key where guests can access their room with their smartphone.
At the Conrad Hotels & Resorts, a chain of hotels owned by Hilton Worldwide, released their communicative app named Conrad concierge. The app gives guests a convenient way to communicate with staff for a variety of requests. Including making dinner reservations and requesting room service and housekeeping.
The Four Seasons app has a ‘local recommendations’ feature that suggests interesting attractions and focal points in the area.
The Mandarin Oriental Hotel’s app offers an interactive 3D globe that allows guests to view details of each of their property locations. They also provide a function to view local city guides.
The technologies above are available to every hotel and guest now. But we can do better. Our current technology has the capacity to create more advanced personal experiences — all it takes is for someone to implement them.
We could then be facing scenarios not dissimilar to those outlined below…
Say you have a frequent guest that visits your hotel on business. The data you’ve collected about this person from past visits reveals some valuable insights into their preferences.
You can use these insights alongside technology to create an exceptional guest experience while maximising your profits per guest.
So how could this work?
The moment the guest walks into your lobby, your hotel picks up their personal IP address from their mobile phone.
When this happens, your staff receive an automatic alert that the guest has arrived. This sends an encryted code to the guest’s mobile device allowing them to open the room, accompanied by a message telling them their room is ready.
At the same time a deposit is taken from their account through your secure cash application.
While this is processing, your bar staff could send the guest a message saying they have a special offer on their favourite drink, and a button to specify whether they’d like it delivered to their room.
As they walk across the lobby, the elevator identifies their IP and automatically highlights the button to deliver them to the right floor. While in the elevator, voice recognition technology allows the guest to set their room temperature, bring up their emails on the tv, turn on the trouser press, close the curtains, order room service and set a wakeup call.
Inside the room the guest places his mobile on the docking station which accesses his music list in the cloud. This then plays his favourite songs.
Every moment is personalised to the guest. It’s giving them exactly what they want, quickly, and without the need for human interaction.
That’s not to say every guest wants to go through their entire stay without speaking to another person. There will always be the need for human engagement, and sometimes it’s preferred by guests.
But in today’s world there exists a wave of travellers who value a streamlined experience. Ones who want to leave the traditional, often time-consuming processes in the past, and instead spend their time doing things that matter most to them.
Mobile technology plays a vital role in the hotel industry, and will only become more prevalent in future years. Whether we like it or not, new technologies are not there for the sake of it. Hotels have a real chance to redefine what it means to customise. To create experiences guests want to be part of and value enough to pay for.