How Technology Will Change the Guest Experience

By David Ashen Principal and Founder, dash design | January 14, 2018

For better or worse, technology has influenced the way we work, socialize and travel in significant ways and, certainly, will continue to do so well into the future. The guest experience is no exception to that influence and one I see as undergoing radical challenges in the next five years. 

From mobile check-ins to app integrations, like Seamless food delivery, guests are beginning to attend to their needs in new ways. After all, if patrons check-in through an app, does that mean the venue’s on-site staffing will be affected, that is, reduced, forcing guests to find their rooms on their own? If guests order meals through an app, will the brand’s restaurant need to be reconfigured—or become no longer necessary? And what will that mean for hungry guests? What about the scale of a venue’s public spaces and lobbies? Will they be reduced? Or eliminated? Will it no longer be possible for guests to meet and mingle in a venue’s public spaces? Is it possible for venues to plan for flexibility to accommodate new technologies? And how will those inventions further affect the guest experience?  

Innovations happen by the minute. One day the iPod is the hottest device, and within a seeming moment, it’s become a relic. Apps pop up by the thousands, social media platforms regularly morph in new ways and hardware becomes outdated, for the most part, within a mere two years.   

What does all this mean for the hotel brands, owners and guests? How can one predict what’s coming up in the next few years and the ways those interests will affect the industry or shape lifestyles? I’m no psychic, but there are indications of how the coming role of technology will affect the hotel environment and guest experience in the near future. 

In general, hotels are divided into active spaces, meaning those that are front-facing to the guest, and passive locations, that is, those at back of house and behind the scenes where technologies that help optimize things such as building systems and hotel operations typically are housed. These areas and their associated equipment tend to form the ‘brain’ of a building, delivering the intangible aspects of the guest experience. 

This article will focus on the active spaces and guest-facing technologies that engage patrons directly and are perceived as influencing their experience. Many of those technologies currently in place and on the rise, are those focused on easing the pain of check-in. As a result, the front desk is becoming mobile, making it obvious that the traditional check-in desk will disappear within the next few years.  

Coming up in March 2018...

Human Resources: Value Creation

Businesses must evolve to stay competitive and this is also true of employment positions within those organizations. In the hotel industry, for example, the role that HR professionals perform continues to broaden and expand. Today, they are generally responsible for five key areas - government compliance; payroll and benefits; employee acquisition and retention; training and development; and organizational structure and culture. In this enlarged capacity, HR professionals are no longer seen as part of an administrative cost center, but rather as a member of the leadership team that creates strategic value within their organization. HR professionals help to define company policies and plans; enact and enforce systems of accountability; and utilize definable metrics to measure and justify outcomes. Of course, there are always new issues for HR professionals to address. Though seemingly safe for the moment, will the Affordable Care Act ultimately be repealed and replaced and, if so, what will the ramifications be? There are issues pertaining to Millennials in the workforce and women in leadership roles, as well as determining the appropriate use of social media within the organization. There are new onboarding processes and e-learning training platforms to evaluate, in addition to keeping abreast of political issues like the minimum wage hike movement, or the re-evaluation of overtime rules. Finally, there are genuine immigration and deportation issues that affect HR professionals, especially if they are located in Dreamer Cities, or employ a workforce that could be adversely impacted by federal government policies. The March Hotel Business Review will take a look at some of the issues, strategies and techniques that HR professionals are employing to create and sustain value in their organization.