High-Tech Meets High-Touch

Advanced Connectivity Delivers Exceptional Guest Service

By Alexandra Sewell Vice President of Mid-Market & Enterprise Marketing, Comcast Business | April 17, 2016

A smiling face behind the check-in desk. Prompt and unobtrusive room service. Eager hands to help with luggage. A friendly greeting. "It's my pleasure." "You are quite welcome." "Please, let me help." These are just a few of the personal touches that define exceptional guest service.

Human interactions are indeed the cornerstone of the guest service mission at most hotels. Get those human interactions right, and you have a satisfied and loyal guest who is likely to sing your praises to others. Get those human interactions wrong, and they can damage your reputation and your business. Any casual viewing of hotel review sites reflects this: It's often the negative voices that ring the loudest and get the most attention.

Good guest service depends on more than the human factor, however. Hotel companies need to consider how technology - specifically, advanced connectivity solutions - can support and enhance guest service. From providing guests with in-room, home-like video entertainment options and meeting the needs of the "always connected" traveler, to supporting the back-office systems that help hotels provide seamless guest service, advanced connectivity solutions make it possible for hotels to provide a positive and welcoming experience for guests.

The Connected Traveler

The proliferation of mobile devices means people are never far away from the latest call, email or text. While many guests continue to expect hotels to provide quality HD programming for in-room viewing, most people also now carry entertainment - in the form of streaming movies, music and TV shows - right in their pockets. Mobile devices have changed not only how we interact with each other but also how we expect businesses to engage with us.

An estimated 40 percent of hotel guests travel with three or more devices. To attract and create loyalty among these highly mobile, always "on" travelers, hotel operators need a technology strategy to connect guests to high-speed Internet, no matter where they are on the property. Strong WiFi access is critical for this connectivity. According to TripAdvisor, free in-room WiFi is the number one guest service amenity travelers expect. In fact, many travelers seek out and stay at properties where the WiFi is free, in an effort to avoid extra charges on their data plans.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.