How to Effectively Train for the Coming Hotel Technology Boom

By Zoe Connolly Co-Founder & Managing Director, Hospitality Spotlight | April 22, 2018

The Internet of Things has fundamentally changed the way consumers interact with businesses.

This could not be more apparent than in the hotel, resort and casino industries. In a hyperconnected world, one where guests have expectations of doors opening based on smart watches, and minibars asking the front desk to restock themselves in real time, it's critical for hotel leaders to understand the shifting mindset of the customers walking through the door.

For example:

  • Hotels are implementing a wide range of streaming devices to appease 'cord cutters,' guests who have eliminated cable in favor of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime Video.
  • Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant, both of which are smart speakers that can be activated by voice, are becoming commonplace in hotels. These smart speakers are intuitive to use, and replace any number of amenities a hotel can provide (wake up calls and alarm clock for instance, are rapidly being replaced).
  • Many hotels have implemented smart thermostats in their room in order to give guests easier control over setting and maintaining temperatures. As an ancillary benefit, hotels can easily control the temperature of vacant rooms, making it so these units quickly pay for themselves with incremental savings. 

For hotel recruiters and property leaders, it is critical to be abreast of these technological shifts, and understand how it might impact a property's guest experiences. This is also true of the candidates interviewing for roles within a property or organization. The knowledge of the technology required for each department to be successful will give hotel leaders a greater understanding of the knowledge successful candidates will be required to have. This same information becomes more critical for training and enablement programs across properties. Below are three things to focus on when finding the right candidates in the age of IoT.
 
Hiring managers should go through each candidate's technology knowledge and their familiarity with technology stacks. Interviewers should always ask the candidates what software and apps they used at the beginning of their career or when technology became necessary for them to deliver the expected guest or customer experience. They should also ask about examples of how technology has become part of a person's daily routine.

While many candidates will include various software proficiencies in their resume or CV, it's important to gain an understanding of a candidate's comfort level with technology, as well as their  progression using various software and their thoughts behind software and devices. Some common questions to consider might be:

  • How did software and device upgrades help or hurt their daily routine?
  • Can they give examples of software or devices that improve a customer experience?
  • If they could solve one issue through technology, what would it be?

This last question can be particularly helpful, allowing a candidate to show how they think about the technological world, as opposed to trying ascertain which software packages they do or don't know. Due to the explosion of largely intuitive tech in the hospitality space, being able to envision a new approach is often as important as being able to use a particular system, which can be addressed in training.

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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.