Interactive Hotel Design is All About Knowing Your Target Guest

By Eric Rahe Principal, BLT Architects | November 12, 2017

Donna D. Lisle, AIA LEED AP and Doug Soehl RA contributed to this article

The advent of social media brought with it an important shift in the hospitality industry. Any guest’s experience might be amplified to thousands of potential customers, and you want to be sure that your hotel stands out for the right reasons.

Furthermore, technology has increased competition. According to Euromonitor International, the travel industry will have the highest online payment percentage of any industry by 2020, often occurring through third-party sites that display your competitors alongside you. As a result, many hoteliers are looking to stand out by engaging customers and the experience has become more interactive than ever.

Interactive Technology

But what does this mean, really? Not only do our definitions of interactivity vary, but so also do our preferences. As such, the key to a truly interactive hotel experience is to understand your target customers and how they want to be engaged. This is especially true when it comes to hotel technology, which offers near infinite options to tailor your experience to your guests.

For hotels catering to business travelers, such tech is key to streamlining quick and efficient service. For these travelers, check-in kiosks are still king, but we are already moving towards even more advanced options. Hilton Hotels and Resorts, for instance, has begun introducing ‘mobile-enabled room key technology’ allowing guests to bypass the front desk entirely in favor of using a cell phone as a room key.
Similarly, Near field communications, still in its infancy, can ensure that a preset room temperature, lighting, and even window shade level will be ready - per a traveler’s specifications - as soon as they walk through the door. This level of control can be a real selling point to experienced travelers who know exactly what they are looking for.

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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.