What guests expect from a hotel always changes. Gone are the days of cookie-cutter hotel guest experiences — now, it’s all about a one-of-a-kind lodging with both charm and a wealth of tech amenities that make each visit seamless. Today’s hotels are responding accordingly, too — here are 10 of the biggest trends and how they can help enhance hotel guest experience.
1) AI Concierge Services
Once upon a time, when hotel guests needed suggestions for dinner or entertainment, they walked downstairs and spoke one-on-one with the concierge. Now, though, the internet provides us with the same information, as well as customer reviews, virtual menus, reservation-making apps, etc. Still, a guest searching for ideas on their own does little to put a personal touch on their stay with a hotel.
So, the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas — among others, including Hilton — have used artificial intelligence to get the best of both worlds. For instance, at Cosmopolitan, guests can text and chat with Rose, the hotel’s AI-based concierge. She makes restaurant suggestions and can tell guests where they’ll get a great cocktail. She even leads them on art tours through the hotel, plays games with them, sends room service and more.
2) Augmented Reality Room Tours
There’s only so much a photo gallery can show us before we decide to book a hotel room. That’s why some accommodations have begun outfitting their website with augmented or virtual reality tours for guests who want to explore the rooms and amenities before they reserve. To that end, those renting spaces within a hotel for, say, a business conference or a wedding, can get a better feel for what they’re getting, too.
3) Smart Technology in Hotel Rooms
We’ve grown accustomed to using smart tech at home — from apps to tablets to voice-activated devices like Amazon’s Alexa, we can easily check the temperature on the thermostat, set the alarm, find out the weather and more. This same comfort is coming to hotel rooms in 2019, too.
Some hotels have added iPads or other tablets into rooms, from which guests can order towels, lower the lighting or adjust the room temperature. Amazon has also released an Alexa for hospitality, which can do all of the above and play music, tell guests where to find amenities and more.
4) A Local Feel
Taking a step back from tech, there are other trends reshaping the hotel guest experience. Today’s guests want a unique lodging, rather than a one-size-fits-all experience at a branded hotel they could find anywhere. As such, a lot of accommodations have redecorated with a local flair to give guests a sense of place. Whether that means selecting artwork and textiles by local artisans or hanging photographs of the city or town is up to the hotel itself. But this personalization will make a person’s stay more memorable, which means they’re likely to tell others about it or come back themselves
5) App-Based Booking
Now, back to tech — many travelers have begun to plan out entire trips through their smartphone, and easy-to-use apps are making this possible. On top of that, there are specialized apps designed to pair guests with the best deals, so they can travel as cheaply and as comfortably as possible. Take the Hotel Tonight app as an example — travelers can find a last minute discount on a nice hotel in cities such as New York, Amsterdam, Toronto and San Francisco.
6) Data-Fueled Personalization
Let’s say a guest stays at the same hotel three times. Every single time, she requests two extra pillows and an extra towel, and she drinks sparkling water from the minibar each day. Data-fueled personalization allows hotels to track these types of behaviors and plan for her next stay — the extra pillows and towels will be waiting for her in the room, and the minibar will have extra bottles of sparkling water for her.
7) Subscription-Based Hotel Perks
Airlines have long enticed customers to remain loyal to them with special perks, so long as they have a frequent-flyer card. Now, hotels have begun to do the same. For example, the Riviera Hotel in Palm Springs has a subscription service for its luxury spa, wherein guests can sign up for monthly visits for treatment, which, in turn, boosts the number of guests staying at the hotel.
8) Mobile Check-In and -Out
Waiting in line decreases customers’ perception of a hotel’s customer service. So, now, more and more hotels offer mobile check-in and out, so there’s no line. This frees up staff to help those who want a full-service check-in. Plus, mobile or tablet-based check-in systems can offer guests room upgrades and add-ons such as late checkout, which could lead to more lucrative stays for the hotel or upselling opportunities.
9) Employee Safety-Centric Tech
In 2019 and beyond, technology will make the hotel’s staff — and, therefore, the hotel in general — safer. Geolocating will help pinpoint where someone is, including their elevation or floor level, if they have a problem. Plus, more and more hotel staffers will have access to panic buttons if they need to signal that something has gone wrong, thus meaning help will arrive sooner than ever.
10) Chatbots Provide Round-the-Clock Customer Service
Finally, expect 2019 to be the year of the chatbot, too. You’ve likely interacted with one of these before, but they’ll become a mainstay in the hospitality industry this year. They’re a great resource for hotels to have — they can answer questions and help guests even if customer service agents are busy or off-duty. Even if the chatbot can’t fully help, potential guests will appreciate the effort and base level of information they’ve received.
It’s Just the Beginning
Of course, these changes represent just 10 of the many ways technology, decor and client requests will affect hotels.. As time goes on, we should expect to see the travel industry continue to tailor its services to each guest walking through their doors. And, with the right tech and data, hotels can easily make this happen, further improving the lodging experience in 2019 and beyond.