Hotel Tech: How to Use It to Gain a Competitive Edge
By Lillian Connors, Senior Digital Marketing Strategist at Bizzmark
In today's extremely competitive business environment, hotels miss no opportunities to attract new guests and get a running length ahead of the competition. One of the main weapons in their arsenal is technology. Constantly expanding opportunities to improve customer satisfaction, hotel managers have their sights at using technological solutions to their advantage. Here are a few effective examples.
With the internet making accessing information easy and transparent, online bookings have never been more important. By browsing check-in and check-out times, facilities, rates, and other details, guests can make informed decisions. A survey that focused on traveler smartphone usage revealed that nearly half of the smartphone users in the US are likely to research, book, and plan their trips using only a mobile device. In additions, there are many websites that compare deals and offers from different sites, while advanced analytics can allow guests to select a hotel that best matches their tastes, conveniences, and budget.
Today's customers are trained to recognize a marketing pitch when they see it, so they are likely to take even official communication with a healthy dose of mistrust. Customers are used to relying on social media to seek reviews and recommendations from other travelers. In such an environment, hotels are heavily engaged in their social media presence, using brand advocates and brand ambassadors. It's not uncommon for a large hotel to have a whole social media team that scans the internet and responds to negative reviews, trying to make amends.
Improving guest experience
The latest technological advances have made check-in and check-out procedures unbelievably fast and smooth. Customers are now used to electronic payments, online reservations, and many other remote procedures that reduce long queues and waiting times. The latest security tech allows guest to use their smartphones as room keys, allowing them to head straight into their rooms. In the same way, guests are enabled to check out with a few clicks, avoiding the reception altogether.
Looking from a marketing point of view, technology allows hotels to target their potential customers in a more efficient way. One of the simpler examples is hotels reminding their business clientele about their conference schedules, targeting specific groups, for example, people who have arrived at the same convention, highlighting special deal and offers. Such an ability to relate to their target audience in real time cuts down on marketing cost, while at the same time, enhances the effectiveness.
Smart appliances and home automation systems that are already being installed in new development offer hoteliers an unprecedented advantage in guest experience. Smart features like automated temperature control, lighting, alarms, entertainment tech, blinds, and other innovations increase customer satisfaction while reducingoverheads. For a hotel, it's more feasible to invest in a 3G modem option thatcan send SMS alerts to multiple groups of up to 16 recipients, than to deal with disgruntled guests when one of the hotel support systems fails.
Technology also allows hotels to become more efficient by making their internal processes seamless and uninterrupted. For example, a customer relationship management (CRM) suite lets managers, to organize and manage information from a central console, as well as providing customer relations executives with a complete history for each customer who files a complaint. A marketing automation suite, on the other hand, allows customized interactions with guests, like sending automated emails. In the future, hotels might be able to use deep analytics to offer a package that includes facilities tailored for each guest.
To relieve their human concierge service, Renaissance Midtown Hotel in New York uses an interactive wall, called the Discovery Portal. Using it as a virtual concierge, guests can choose from categories like entertainment, dining, and many others by simply stepping onto a circular hologram projected on the floor. However, the hotel also employees in-person concierge service to provide guests with more elaborate information about the content they have found in the Portal.
It's not a rare case that hotels who want to gain a competitive edge using technology resort to already existing virtual assistant protocols. Wynn Hotel & Resort in Las Vegas uses Amazon Echo to enhance their customer experience. By using Amazon Alexa voice assistance, guests can access lighting and temperature controls, as well as manipulate draperies and TV in their room. Aloft Hotel in Cupertino features keyless entry through Aloft smartphone app, as well as a robotic butler called Botlr for 24/7 delivery of customer service.
Robotics and AI
Space in New York comes with a hefty tag, so this hotel located in Hell's Kitchen tries to ease the cost of a nightly stay by providing space-efficient cabins, with full-size beds that can be stowed away during the day. However, innovation in Yotel doesn't stop here. Apart from introducing touch-screen kiosks instead of front desk staff, the hotel features a robotic assistant who stores your luggage away, in case you arrive too early for check-in. After you return from exploring the city, you type in a corresponding code, and a robotic arm retrieves your luggage from a locker.
While the hospitality industry has been slower to catch onto smart tech, nowadays customers expect optimized check-in processes and may choose between hotels based on the level of integrated tech support that is offered.
As a senior digital marketing consultant, Lillian Connors believes that the question of business goes far beyond the maximization of profit through different money-grabbing ploys. Instead, she likes to think that ethical principles should be at the core of every commercial venture, paving the way for much more balanced distribution of wealth on a global scale.More from Lillian Connors