In the previous blog, I shared tips on how hotels can engage with their guests prior to their arrival to provide a great experience and build a long-term relationship. Let’s look at how the new-age technology can be used by hotels to provide a satisfying guest experience.
Technology is the key:
As per Hotel Lodging Technology, in order to match the heightened guest expectations, hotels are opening their doors to technology and they are spending an average of 4.9% of revenue in IT. The biggest spenders are the mid-scale hotels.
On the other hand, guests are also increasingly choosing hotels that provide new-age technology. A research by Software Advice suggests that 60% of guests are more likely to choose a hotel that allows them to check-in and open doors using a smartphone. 37% are moderately likely to choose a hotel with lobby technology, such as touchscreens and check-in kiosks.
What can your hotel do?
Here’s looking at 4 viable technology solutions that can help independent hotels serve their guests better and personalize the experience:
1. Mobile: Mobile bookings are gaining popularity and are predicted to increase to 25% of online bookings by 2017. What is more interesting for hotel owners is that 40% of leisure travelers and 36% of business travelers book overnight accommodations in hotels using their mobile phones.
Hotels should take advantage of this growth to engage with the travelers, especially with the rise in Millennial travelers who are highly dependent on their smartphone. According to PhoCusWright, 1 in 4 hotel bookings comes from a mobile device and Millennials alone add up to 38% of these bookings.
Having the hotel’s booking engine optimized for mobile view can offer guests a convenient option to book. Hotels can also try connecting with their guests pre-arrival through mobile apps that can assist the guests with directions and send notifications of the seasonal packages and offers to invite a repeat stay from an old guest. Mobiles promotions can be used as a beneficial marketing and sales strategy by hotels.
Hotels can also look at integrating Beacon technology that will help them gather guest data in order to offer personalized services. The technology allows hotels to engage with the guests on a personal level by pushing special offers based on their location, request for special services, access to view maps, or connect with the hotel’s social media channels.
2. Tablets: Tablets are growing in popularity among the new-age generation as seen in a recent survey that found that more than 1 billion people worldwide use tablets in 2015, representing nearly 15% of the global population and more than double the number three years ago. By 2018, the number of tablet users in the world will reach 1.43 billion. Hotels should consider providing tablets to enhance the guest experience and use it for multiple marketing purposes. Here’s how:
Front desk: Front desk is one of the busiest areas of the hotel which is mostly accessed by the guests, hence it’s good to use tablets at the front desk to check-in/out the guests and take their quick feedback. It can also be used for digital signage by displaying information on nearby attractions, local map and to encourage guests to sign up for future email marketing. Consider OnSpot Social app that collects email addresses and guest data to engage with them through various digital marketing strategies.
Rooms: After Wi-Fi, guests are expecting hotels to provide tablets in the rooms. Seeing this rising demand, many hotels have started investing in tablets and are installing third party apps to give their guests the control of room lights, AC, TV and more.
Restaurants/bars/spas: Another effective area where guests are more likely to engage with tablets is a hotel’s point of sale to browse through the menus and packages. Hotels can encourage guests to give real-time feedback on the services.
3. Self Check-in: The new-age traveler likes to be on his own to save time and effort. Self check-in technology can play a role in providing convenience to the guest while also easing the burden on the front desk staff.
This technology allows guests to check-in via tablets or phones using a QR code that captures their expected time of arrival and sends the notification to the hotel. Checking-out the guest can also be done via smartphones or tablets from the luxury of the guest’s room using technology like a mobile optimized hotel software.
Self check-in technology also eliminates errors and fastens the process.
4. Live Chat: While there have been many debates over the merits of embedding a live chat feature on the hotel website due to the cost and infrastructure involved, it is one of the best ways to connect with the potential guest. Live chat may be expensive but it helps in increasing sales while providing a convenient platform for interaction. Research suggests that 52% of travelers will visit your hotel’s website after seeing you on an OTA. With a live chat option, you can tap into such travelers easily. I came across an interesting survey that predicts that 90% of customers consider live chat helpful and 63% are more likely to return to a website that offers live chat.
This simply means that people prefer websites that can immediately attend to their queries while they are in the process of making a booking. This also helps eliminate website bounce rates as the live chat assists guests through every stage until they complete their action. Engaging potential guests through this feature will make them feel valued and can convert them into bookers.
As many buying decisions are purely based on convenience, a live chat option could lead the guests from not swaying to your competitor hotel’s website.
Traveling today is much easier than it used to be few decades ago. Now, traveling is all about instant gratification for the travelers. Millennials are a dominating segment that often look for hotels which offer quick services and technology allows hotels to deliver what they expect. So, hit the iron when hot!
Carlson Wagonlit Travel
ATG Global Consumer Trend
eMarketer"How can hotels use technology for better guest experience?",