Technology Opportunities That Can Set Your Hotel Apart

By Court Williams Chief Executive Officer, HVS Executive Research | January 15, 2017

In some ways, running a successful hotel comes down to a proposition both simple and sometimes complex: delivering service that exceeds the expectations of your guests. You need to provide comfort and hospitality, but also something extra to set yourself apart from other properties. Without differentiating yourself in the market, you risk becoming just one of many hotel options, rather than the preferred choice for your market.

One valuable way to set yourself apart from your competition is through embracing technological opportunities available to hotels. If you leverage mobile technology, a wealth of options are emerging that can deliver new conveniences and services that enhance the guest experience. When you combine these options with a true commitment to providing excellent guest service, you gain new ways to emerge as the preferred property in your key markets.

Mobile Device Recognition

Check-in at the beginning of a hotel stay provides a critical moment for your guest experience. A busy counter can create frustration before someone even arrives at his or her room, setting the stage for a difficult stay that does not live up to the expectations your guest has. Trying to overcome this poor first impression creates a strain on your staff and a damaged reputation.

Mobile technology can allow your guests to bypass the traditional check-in process through their smartphones. Your property can be set up to recognize a phone's IP address when the guest arrives. The check-in can then be completed through your mobile app without any need to work through the front desk. With a few clicks, the guest can walk into your hotel and move straight ahead toward their room.

Far from a security nightmare, this process ensures that only your guest can check in. The IP recognition technology ties your guest to a unique identifier. And your hotel, operating on a secured connection limited to the property, can give your customers peace of mind in knowing that the data they send through this process goes only where it is supposed to go.

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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.