When Robots Say "Enjoy Your Stay:" Patenting AI Solutions to Enhance Guest Experiences
By Jeremy Kriegel Partner, Marshall, Gerstein & Borun LLP | July 19, 2020
Technology alone will not bring guests back, but it will be a key component. Amenities that instill confidence, build trust, and contribute to compelling experiences will be the hallmarks of successful post-COVID brands. As hotels develop new amenities, or adapt existing ones, look for opportunities to obtain intellectual property (IP) protection.
As Warren Buffett said, "we want the moat widened every year. That doesn't necessarily mean the profit will be more this year than it was last year because it won't sometimes. However, if the moat is widened every year, the business will do very well." Transcript, Berkshire Hathaway 2000 Annual Meeting. IP is essential to moat-building.
IP protection may include utility patents, design patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. These can help protect a hotel's differentiating attributes.
"All brands have to create their own ecosystem that extends across all media-social, digital and traditional," says Patrick Hanlon, Founder and CEO, PrimalBranding.CO/Thinktopia and author of Primal Branding, required reading for a growing number of well-known brands. There is a great deal more to successful branding than using style guides to ensure consistency. According to Hanlon, "continuity is the last refuge of the unimaginative." "The objective is to create a community that becomes so passionate about your success that they create it themselves."
Hanlon identifies three pillars to the customer journey: Information, Experience and Connectivity. Information can include a brand's website, its social media feed, print advertising, outdoor boards and signage, radio and television advertisements, and the like. Experience can include both online and physical environments. The goal is to maximize the likelihood of personal engagements that garner positive guest satisfaction, because satisfied guests are more likely to interact with their peers and share recommendations within their networks, compounding ROI for the acquisition cost of a customer.
Connectivity involves fostering the shared interaction among a brand's community of guests, essentially nurturing the adoption of the various customs, rituals, icons, tools and language that foster a connection guests associate exclusively with one source.