Bridging the Digital and Customer Divide in Hotel Design

By Shane Weaver Director of Strategy, MaxMedia | November 26, 2017

The hospitality industry has its share of competition these days with Airbnb and other lodging options, and hoteliers are doing more these days to emphasize the guest experience. While financial resources greatly differ from economy chains to luxury resorts, there are plenty of digital tools across signage, mobile and the web available for all budgets that raise the excitement for guests, and create memorable visits.

The fact remains that guest expectations continue to rise at hotels and resorts. Today’s consumers crave more engagement, more choices, better service, higher quality, more value, more personalized options, peer reviews and social validation in virtually all aspects of their lives.

The struggle to keep up with aging infrastructure, fickle consumer preferences, and low barriers of entry for other forms of entertainment, challenge hotels and resorts to look at ways to reinvent guest experiences. These reinventions aim to meet and exceed the expectations of today’s ultra-connected, easily-distracted, promiscuous consumer.
Thanks to what seems like lightyear progress of digital integration into consumers’ everyday lives, we can see signs of how increased investment in enhancing the guest experience is creating a stronger bond between the hotel and the consumer.

Digital Enablement

Hotels that lack in the guest experience tend to still operate in an analog world. There is little question that people’s expectations of a quality guest experience have parallels to digital enablement, and how immersive and interactive those experiences ultimately are.

The guest’s journey almost always begins in the lobby as he or she prepares to check in. Beyond the general design architecture, hotels that embrace digital in the lobby are making a stronger initial impact on the guest.

The W Atlanta Midtown Hotel
LAX New Bradley Terminal crafts a wildly interactive environment
LAX New Bradley Terminal highlights a 72-foot-tall four-sided, digitally enabled “clock tower” that comes to life
Turn a dull walkway into an advertisers paradise!
Digital signage can add new dimensions to various areas of your hotel that might otherwise go unnoticed
Renaissance NY Midtown Hotel in New York City. Users interact with the tourism portal on things to do around New York City
An entire hallway of digital art impresses guests at the Renaissance NY Midtown Hotel
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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.