Discover how digital disruption can benefit your hotel
As a digital marketer, I get to travel as part of my job. This means I’m exposed to a wide variety of hotel experiences. And while I could write War and Peace about hotel breakfasts, I wanted to address something specific in this article: The widespread lack of digital disruption in the hotel sector.
How dated technology can inhibit human experiences
Let me tell you about a typical hotel experience from memory.
I start by booking online, often with the help of a third party such as Booking.com (sorry!). I get to see a few photos of an immaculate hotel room and a list of amenities. I place the booking and receive a confirmation email complete with instructions on how to find the hotel.
On the day of my stay, I jump into a taxi and search my inbox for the confirmation email because the taxi driver isn’t familiar with the name of the hotel. On the way there, the driver tells me that he doesn’t accept debit card payments, so we have to swing by a cash machine.
Later, I arrive at the hotel and join the queue at the desk. It's only a short wait, but by now, I’m eager to get to my room. The receptionist greets me warmly and hands me a paper form to fill out. We go through a couple of different pens to find the one that works, and I’m finally handed my plastic room keycard.
I arrive outside the room with my bags, tapping the card against the sensor with my one free hand. But the light turns red. I try several times again before finally getting green. I step into the room, which looks nothing like the photos from aforementioned third-party platform.
How current technology can enhance human experiences
Now, let's look at how the experience could have gone.
I book the hotel (hopefully directly) and receive a welcome email from the hotel asking me to download their loyalty app. I sign in using the credentials provided, and the app presents me with a personalised dashboard for stay. This includes a virtual tour of my room, the option to order my meals in advance and a taxi pickup service.
On the day of my stay, I receive a text message letting me know that my taxi is 15 minutes away. Once inside the taxi, the driver knows exactly where to take me. And no payment is required as the cost has been added to my final hotel bill.
As I step into the hotel, the receptionist greets me warmly and points me in the direction of the lift. There are no forms to fill in thanks to the GPS powered automatic check-in service. I head directly to my room and the door unlocks automatically – thanks to the keyless entry system via my smartphone.
I walk into the room, which has been heated to my preference. The room also seems oddly familiar thanks to the virtual tour. On the desk is a printed itinerary detailing my restaurant reservation and food choices. Alongside it sits the freshly made cup of tea with two sugars that I requested yesterday via the loyalty app.
Which of the above hotel experiences would you prefer as a guest?
How digital technology can take the human experience even further
As I hinted earlier, we should always strive to enhance human experiences with technology. This means pairing technology with real people rather than replacing people with machines. A specific example of the latter would be the fiddly self-check in machines that some big hotel chains have unfortunately adopted.
Here are some other ways that modern technology can enhance experiences for hotel guests:
- Voice-activated smart technology in hotel rooms. This can be achieved relatively cheaply using Amazon Echo or Google Home. Allowing guests to set alarms, check the weather, operate the TV, adjust temperature and make phone calls.
2. Multichannel communication that allows guests to have two-way contact with the front desk via WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and others.
3. Further personalisation of the hotel experience. Such as being able to toggle a do not disturb mode for your room. Request extra towels and pillows. Or even connect to your own on-demand services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime.
Hospitality appears to be one of the most neglected industries in terms of basic digital enablement. Most hotels that I’ve stayed in have outdated telephone systems, clunky TV menus and terrible WiFi speeds. Why not strive to do better? I’ll be joining ‘The Dark Art of Digital’ session at Independent Hotel Show to hear the expert panel to unpick how the hotel industry can embrace new digital products and technologies; from AI and automation, to biometrics and virtual concierges!
As for the high-tech experience that I described earlier, the technology needed to create that experience currently exists, so why not embrace it and give your guests an experience to remember with the help of the IHTech Quest.