How Can Your Hotel Use New Technology to Manage Your Brand?

By Yvonne Tocguigny Chief Creative and Strategy Officer, Archer Malmo | April 02, 2017

Each hotel will have to find new ways to stay in touch with customers to understand their experiences in time to address problems and avoid brand degradation. We all want to avoid having to buy back our customer’s business and loyalty after a poor experience. The ability to manage your brand and retain customer loyalty will come down to two important factors: technology with consistent built-in feedback mechanisms and the availability of choice.

Technology will be deployed to offer your customers a better mobile check-in experience. And it may replace servers in your restaurants. That’s not the end. There will continue to be ways that customers’ experiences are managed through technology rather than the unpredictable, difficult-to-control individual personalities and judgment of employees. This will be one more way our workforce becomes automated. Some customers will like it, and some won’t. How will we know before it’s too late? Tests in tech-friendly cities will allow learning what works and what doesn’t. It should also help segment the audiences that prefer human interaction to mobile interface. You have the ability to model those customers, and proactively offer them choices in how they wish to shape their stay. Through testing, you should be able to study the profiles of customers with varying preferences then tailor packages and options that appeal specifically to each customer type.

It’s not a sure bet to assume that all millennials want an experience that’s managed through various forms of technology to shortcut human interaction. Trends in alternative accommodations show that millennials are adopting private home rentals at a greater rate than any other age group. And it’s interesting to note how the home rental business is moving closer to offering a traditional hotel experience.

Personal greeters met me at my recent Onefinestay location in Paris and London. This formed a bond that personalized their brand and made me feel extremely cared for. Many Airbnb rentals offer the opportunity to interact with the homeowner and get to know more local residents. The home rental market has realized that after a sleek online booking experience, and the amenity of a helpful mobile app that explains everything about a rental and the location, the next big brand-building triumphs are won through valuable personal interaction.

When I compare the personal service aptitude of the greeters at Onefinestay, who have the enthusiasm and motivation of a smart young startup entrepreneur, to the tired slow person who has checked me in at the desk of a four-star hotel, the differences are stark. I’ll tell you, I’d prefer a mobile app to the front desk check-in experience. But what I really want is a faster, more personal greeting that puts me in control rather than making me feel like I’m just another person waiting in line. Is it possible that the home rental market will begin to bleed off an ongoing stream of customers who prefer to see the greeting process be transformed rather than eliminated? And for those who want it eliminated, the tech-enabled keyless entry, devoid of in-person guest greeting or checkout that’s offered by many rentals, has already become an option.

The only way to offer what people truly want is to first understand what that is. And as is the case with most innovation, your customers don’t know they want the next new thing because they’ve never imagined it. Because it’s truly new, they can’t imagine it until they’ve experienced it.

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Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.