How Technology Will Change the Guest Experience

By David Ashen Principal and Founder, dash design | January 14, 2018

For better or worse, technology has influenced the way we work, socialize and travel in significant ways and, certainly, will continue to do so well into the future. The guest experience is no exception to that influence and one I see as undergoing radical challenges in the next five years. 

From mobile check-ins to app integrations, like Seamless food delivery, guests are beginning to attend to their needs in new ways. After all, if patrons check-in through an app, does that mean the venue's on-site staffing will be affected, that is, reduced, forcing guests to find their rooms on their own? If guests order meals through an app, will the brand's restaurant need to be reconfigured-or become no longer necessary? And what will that mean for hungry guests? What about the scale of a venue's public spaces and lobbies? Will they be reduced? Or eliminated? Will it no longer be possible for guests to meet and mingle in a venue's public spaces? Is it possible for venues to plan for flexibility to accommodate new technologies? And how will those inventions further affect the guest experience?  

Innovations happen by the minute. One day the iPod is the hottest device, and within a seeming moment, it's become a relic. Apps pop up by the thousands, social media platforms regularly morph in new ways and hardware becomes outdated, for the most part, within a mere two years.   

What does all this mean for the hotel brands, owners and guests? How can one predict what's coming up in the next few years and the ways those interests will affect the industry or shape lifestyles? I'm no psychic, but there are indications of how the coming role of technology will affect the hotel environment and guest experience in the near future. 

In general, hotels are divided into active spaces, meaning those that are front-facing to the guest, and passive locations, that is, those at back of house and behind the scenes where technologies that help optimize things such as building systems and hotel operations typically are housed. These areas and their associated equipment tend to form the 'brain' of a building, delivering the intangible aspects of the guest experience. 

This article will focus on the active spaces and guest-facing technologies that engage patrons directly and are perceived as influencing their experience. Many of those technologies currently in place and on the rise, are those focused on easing the pain of check-in. As a result, the front desk is becoming mobile, making it obvious that the traditional check-in desk will disappear within the next few years.  

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.