Chances are, you don’t want your guests to think of your hotel only as a place to sleep and shower. You want your guests to think of your hotel as a place to have an experience, a place where they can feel at home, a place they can recommend to friends who are looking for somewhere to stay. Part of this involves giving them all the trappings of modernity — a recent Lodging Magazine survey found that guests are significantly more likely to stay at hotels that offer more technology.
But how to do it right? With so many innovations out there, and seemingly something new hitting the market every day, it can be difficult to decide which guest experience technology is relevant to guests and which can be avoided. The first thing you’ll need to do is determine what your guests need and want, then align it with the benefits that technology can — and should — provide. These are the five things any innovations you choose to introduce should be for your guests.
Convenience is the number one factor you should consider when you’re deciding what guest experience technology to implement. Above all, guest experience technology in a hospitality setting should make your guests’ lives easier. Your business travelers will be harried, and the faster they can book meeting rooms, order room service, and get housekeeping requests met, the happier they’ll be. On the flip side, your leisure guests will want to relax, and taking the burden of getting service off their shoulders will be welcomed.
Consider this: According to Software Advice, 37 percent of hotel guests would be more likely to choose a property that has self-serve check-in and check-out kiosks in the lobby. Hotel News Now Reports that the average time to complete self check-in at CitizenM hotels is less than two minutes; the average time to self check-out is 30 seconds. The lesson we can learn from this data is that today’s traveler values speed and convenience as much as they value good service.
If your guest experience technology isn’t easy to use from the get-go, many of your guests may find it’s not worth the trouble. They’ll have a better time using your guest experience technology if they understand how it works and if they’ve used something similar before. Any guest-facing technology you bring onto your property should be intuitive and user-friendly. Touchscreens, for example, are now so ubiquitous that there are very few people who don’t understand how they work. Better yet, try creating an environment where guests can use their own technology, such as tablets and mobile phones, as much as possible.
Novelty guest experience technology can be fun, but unless it serves some kind of purpose, your guests will likely lose interest in it fast. Robotic concierges, for example, are a cool concept, but do your guests really prefer them to human beings? Moreover, are they more effective at the job than human beings? Consider, for example, 40 percent of guests believe technology should reduce their travel costs. Your guests want to feel that the technology you offer is giving them some sort of value.
Not all guest experience technology has to be flashy, either. According to Statista, more than a third of hotel guests say that more power outlets and USB ports are the most important technology their room should have. Why? Because people are traveling with an average of three portable devices, and they need somewhere to plug all those devices in. A bedside dock that has extra outlets and USB ports can go a long way.
Convenience and usefulness are important, but your guest experience technology should also make your guests happy at the same time. Happiness, after all, is what will give your guests a positive impression of your brand, help them develop an emotional connection with your team, and keep them loyal.
In a survey of travelers conducted by Gallup, they found that “guests overall strongly agree that they would be willing to pay much more for significantly improved services such as Internet connectivity, comfortable beds, and responsive employees.” Good service ranks highly on the list of things that guests want — and technology is one way to deliver service that is fast, efficient, and reliable.
The beauty of guest experience technology is that it can help you understand your guests better and deliver an experience tailored to their unique preferences. Demand Gen Reports disclosed that customers who receive personalized offers are 20 percent more likely to purchase than those who don’t, and that personalized emails deliver six times higher transaction rates.
Personalization can be as simple as noting down a guest’s favourite newspaper and delivering it to them before they even have to ask. Perhaps it’s asking a repeat guest, upon check-in, if they still prefer to receive their wake up call at a specific hour. You can gather information about guest preferences using data, and then store that data in your hotel’s PMS so front-line staff can easily refer to it anytime they need to.