Emergence of New Trends in Guest Services

By Adrian Kurre Global Head, Homewood Suites & Home2 Suites by Hilton | March 09, 2014

Earlier in my career, I spent some time on the food and beverage side of the hospitality business. A former manager once told me the golden rule of food and beverage: “Serve hot food hot. Serve cold food cold. And do it with a smile.”

It is a simple notion that makes a big difference for guests. But its straightforwardness belies a deeper complexity – applicable beyond food and beverage – that we need to continually address across the hospitality industry: delivering on our promises and creating an excellent experience for guests at every step. The reality, as we all know, is the research, the testing, and the partnership with all the stakeholders that create that experience is far from simple.

When it comes to fulfilling our promise to our stakeholders, every hotel brand goes through the usual motions – every few years, we make an upgrade to a property here or there. We switch up the shampoo and conditioner offering; strike a partnership deal with a relevant brand; update our logo. We make incremental changes. The true opportunity is to ensure each change, no matter how small, connects with the entire experience we aim to create for our customers.

Incrementalism is no longer enough. Guests expect more, and rightly so. Their preferences are changing. As choices expand, brand loyalty is more important than ever and harder to win (and keep winning every time).

To meet the moment, hotel brands must think and act for the long term, embracing the complexity and uncertainty of our category.

At Hilton Garden Inn, we’ve adopted a roadmap, called ‘Flourish’, that’s as much brand strategy as it is a mindset that provides direction and context for everything we do. We use it as a filter to help us make decisions about what’s right for guests and to help our general managers, owners, and our entire hotel teams deliver a highly relevant, highly memorable experience and, most importantly, deliver on our promises.

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.