How to Balance Mobile Tech and High-Touch Service at Luxury Hotels

The AAA defines a luxury hotel as having “sophistication and comfort with extraordinary physical attributes, meticulous personalized service, extensive amenities and impeccable standards of excellence.” Guests who stay at these hotels expect to be treated like royalty; after all, they’re paying for impeccable service, delivered by an attentive and caring hotel employee. So you may be asking yourself where mobile technology fits into this particular landscape.

Whether hoteliers want to admit it or not, the average person can access a breathtaking array of services using their mobile phones — and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to do the same when they stay at a hotel. Even guests who want to be waited on hand and foot would sometimes rather use a self-service option. Here are a few reasons hoteliers shouldn’t count mobile technology out as an important part of their guest service experience.

Give them options

Guests stay at luxury hotels because they want high-touch service, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to speak to a staff member for every single issue or need they may have. And each guest will have a preferred method of communicating with hotel staff; some would rather go down to the desk, while others would rather text. That’s why mobile can be a differentiator for luxury hotels — it can give guests the options that hotels in other segments may not be able to offer.

And give them convenience

Besides choice, it may not always be convenient for the guest to call the front desk. For example, if a guest is in the middle of back-to-back business meetings and has dinner plans immediately after, they may want to ensure there will be fresh towels waiting when they return to their room so that they can quickly shower between engagements. With mobile technology, these types of simple requests can be made using a menu-based interface, allowing them to do it in a handful of seconds between meetings. Consider also the husband who wants to surprise his spouse with champagne and roses for a birthday or anniversary — mobile messaging allows him to do it discreetly.

Don’t replace service with technology

Mobile technology doesn’t have to replace the human connection altogether; on the contrary, it can be used as the foundation of a meaningful conversation, which employees can continue in person. In fact, it’s better that mobile technology works as a complement to human staff members rather than a replacement, no matter the caliber of the hotel. Too much automation can give guests the impression that their needs and issues aren’t being taken seriously by hotel management. Requests and questions can always be handled via text message, but when issues arise, they should be handled personally by hotel staff or management.

Use the data to improve service

Even the world’s best hotels slip up from time to time, and operations and policy should always be evolving in the fast-paced hotel industry, so data and reporting are useful tools for continually improving service. When guests tell staff members face-to-face that they’re having a problem, it’s more difficult to track trends because busy staff members are less likely to write things down. It’s also not always ideal to find out about issues once they’ve been posted on social media or review websites — especially for luxury hoteliers, who have a vested interest in maintaining a reputation of excellence.

Because mobile technology has the ability to capture data, it can help hoteliers identify trends that can be used to enhance service in the moment. This can lead to a reduction of the rate at which guests complain on TripAdvisor before they speak to someone at the hotel.

Are you using mobile at your luxury hotel to enhance the guest experience? Let us know in the comments, or on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter!

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