The Hotel Readiness Test: Mega Events and the Connected Guest

By Jon Davis Vice President, Business Development, Indoor Networks, ExteNet Systems Inc. | October 21, 2012

2012 has been the year of the mega events--from the Summer Olympics to the G8, the NATO Summit and multiple political conventions. For hotels, these mega events have directly collided with expectations of the new “connected guest”. This guest has dramatically changing expectations and needs for wireless services in and around hotel properties and hospitality venues.

In many ways, 2012 has been an incubation test for countless hotels located in areas where mega events took place. It’s no doubt that when these events occur, drawing potentially thousands of “connected guests” to hotel properties in the vicinity, hotel executives are left to wonder: will the wireless infrastructure in place meet the changing needs and expectations of these connected guests? Equally important is the future impact. Would the guest experience, relative to their wireless needs, affect their decision to stay at the property in the future? Additionally, were the wireless needs of mega event organizers—and their ability to draw crowds - affected in any way that might influence their destination, location, venue choices for future mega events?

Big Stakes Rest on Changing Perceptions

Not surprisingly, the technology profile of hotel guests has been changing rapidly for years. No longer can hotels simply provide wireless services to support laptop connections and mobile phone use. Today hotel guests expect a seamless wireless experience—no dropped mobile calls or data connectivity — from the moment they leave the taxi, through the hotel lobby, up the elevator and into a private room. These expectations exist because guests are experiencing changing wireless environments wherever they go.

For example, countless sports and entertainment facilities have stepped up their commercial wireless solutions. Fans are using their mobile devices to talk, text, download, view the game wirelessly while watching it live, and even ordering snacks and merchandise while they sit in the stands. Likewise, the consumer’s wireless experience is changing in similar ways in commercial office buildings, shopping facilities, universities and even healthcare facilities, which have all aggressively pursued significant wireless upgrades. Even some high-end hotel properties are doing their part to change consumer wireless expectations. Some are presenting their guests with a media rich experience from the moment they enter their room. This might include everything from a device such as tablet available for guests to use and to order media rich applications, or to interact with concierge services and to place orders from room service.

Clearly, the environment is changing and this is affecting guest expectations. For hotels to capitalize on future business—including being in the running for future mega events, the hotel wireless infrastructure must be primed and ready. Given the mega events that took place in 2012, we wondered: is there anything hotel executives can learn or take away from hotels that experienced the connected guest and mega events in 2012? The answer is yes.

Hotel Newswire Headlines Feed  

Derek Peterson
Sherri Merbach
Emily Venugopal
Andy Ellicott
Emily Venugopal
Joey Yanire
Gaurav Varma
Fifi Arisandi
Holly Zoba
Scott  Watson
Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.