Big Data Trends: Raising the Bar for Guest Expectations

By Suman Pal Principal Product Manager, Agilysys | January 08, 2017

Imagine for a moment, passing guests in queue at the hotel front desk waiting to check-in while youre heading straight to your room instead, or securing your favorite table and skipping the wait list, all without having to talk with a single staff member. No, youre not dreaming. The day of frictionless guest service is here. Guests are demanding it. How well is your hotel embracing it?

The rapid evolution in mobile, social and cloud technologies combined with a monumental shift in guest expectations has launched us into what is one of the most pivotal transformations in hospitality. Throughout the guest journey, mobile and digital interactions have become an expectation of guests everywhere across virtually every generation. Alternate methods for everyday operations and guest interactions are driving this transformation, and further raising the bar for what a guest expects in terms of their stay and service-level experiences.

Need a room in San Francisco this weekend? Mobile websites, accessible via any mobile device, make booking a cinch. We are well on our way to having the most complex and interactive CRS (Central Reservations Systems) technology at our fingertips, even on-the-go.

Missing a fluffy pillow in your room? A new style of service requests - guest communication apps - are displacing numerous calls made to the front desk every day. Many hotel brands are employing concierge solutions to facilitate communication with staff and to drive room service ordering.

In a hurry to get to your room before the big meeting? Alternative, mobile methods of check-in are quickly becoming the norm. No need to stop by the front desk to get a key. Kiosk check-ins offer no waiting and, these days, your smart phone offers technology that opens more doors than ever before.

These are but a handful of examples from a long list that illustrate the mobile and digital transformation were undergoing. The real gold lies within the data that supports these interactions. While mobile technologies are driving us toward enhanced guest experiences, each and every guest technology interaction generates volumes of data; data that drives the largest hotels brands toward more automated workflows, guest services and increased revenue.

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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.