Making the Most of Technology and Delivering Experiences

The Keys to Success for Tomorrow's Hoteliers

By Melissa Fruend Partner, Global Solutions, LoyaltyOne | April 02, 2017

Technological innovation is transforming business and our lives. And the travel and hospitality industry is on the front lines, looking for ways to deliver meaningful experiences to guests even as their interactions with staff continue to diminish. The key to long-term success for hoteliers is personalization – understanding what make great customer experiences, while leveraging new technologies to adapt services and interactions to guests' changing needs and expectations.

More than half of Americans – 55% - took to the skies for business or leisure in the last two years, according to a recent COLLOQUY survey. Add to that already massive figure the millions more who ventured out by train and automobile and one thing is crystal clear: Americans love to travel ( and they have no plans to stop – year-over-year travel rose 5.5% last year ).

What's less clear, however, is who these tens of millions of travelers really are and what they want. They are all explorers in one way or other, to be sure, but the reality is they are individuals. These individuals comprise a wide range of ages, income levels, business and personal needs, and preferences.

So, how do travel industry leaders, and hospitality providers in particular, better understand the needs, preferences and rising expectations of all these travelers and guests and leverage that to create a better experience? This question is of even greater import particularly in a world where technology continues to chip away at the face-to-face relationships that were once so commonplace throughout the travel industry.

Technology's Pain and Promise

The good news is that, while some technologies like smartphones and mobile apps, as well as kiosks and robots, will inevitably continue to distance travel and hospitality providers from their guests, other innovations are creating enormous opportunities for the industry. Opportunities to help customers make decisions, meet unmet needs, and remove friction from the experience to build closer relationships, while driving additional revenue and engagement in the process.

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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.