As technology continues to revolutionize our day to day lives, it also begins to shift our expectations as it relates to products and services. The hotel industry is no stranger to this evolution. With the slow demise of brick and mortar travel agencies in favor of tailored and niche online vacation websites, technology is changing how consumers plan and book vacations. The impact of technology isn’t just limited to finding experiences but is also becoming imperative to enhance what client’s experience during their stay. High Definition TV’s are no longer enough to satisfy consumers, making it difficult for hotels to keep up with the constant change.
Fueled by technology and the immense power of the Internet of Things (IoT), consumer expectations are growing. Hotel guests know what they want and hoteliers need to continually exceed those expectations. In an industry where customer expectations for a positive experience run particularly high, technology may just provide the means for overcoming this challenge.
A recent report by Oracle Hospitality surveyed almost 3,000 US and European travelers to better understand the importance of technology for a hotel guest experience. 64% of US hotel guests said it is “very or extremely important for hotels to continue investing in technology to enhance the guest experience.”
If you would like to hear from Rentokil Steritech and find out how our specialists can help improve your hotel and guest experiences, contact your local office today.
Guests want technology
To meet the challenge of growing customer expectations, the hospitality industry is turning to technology. Investing in internet of things technology and innovations will allow hotel operators to stand out from the competition, fulfill every guest’s expectation and attract new customers.
Technology can play such a big role in improving customer experience. Here are some of the many ways technology is beginning to impact hotel guest experience:
- Online bookings
The emergence of more and more travel sites like Expedia, Kayak, Booking and of course Airbnb are making it even easier for consumers to find the very best deals, the best adventures and the greatest experiences. These sites are great news for travelers but present stiff competition for hotel operators, who are turning to technology to innovate and differentiate themselves.
- Automating check-in and check-out
In an effort to improve efficiencies, hotels are looking to automate the check-in (and check-out) process. Mobile hotel check-in and check-outs may well become the norm soon, enabling staff to focus more on guest experiences. Hotels will need to work hard to strike the right balance between technology and personal interaction.
- Keyless entry is expected to accelerate over the coming years
Unpredictable swipe cards will soon be obsolete, replaced by an app on your smartphone, which will be the key to your bedroom. The Hilton hotel is leading the charge for keyless entry. Having already introduced the Hilton Digital Key app back in 2015, Hilton now aims to install keyless entry service in 2,500 hotels by the end of 2017.
- On-Arrival Technology Enhancements
Once in the hotel room, and now as a captive audience of your hotel operator, technology can play a key role in setting great, first expectations. Guests are already able to access in-destination activity choices thanks to hotel TV software, but could this go a step further? What if the hotel TV could also make local restaurant recommendations and perhaps even make a dinner booking? Sounds too good to be true? How about the ability to message hotel staff, if, say, the hairdryer is missing from the room? Instead of using a clumsy TV remote control, how much better would it be, if you could do all this, and more, through a phone app?
This may paint the picture of a very demanding hotel guest, but the Oracle Hospitality report states these as top initiatives, which guests would like to see in hotels:
- capability to select specific room locations (45%)
- means to share information about in-destination activities (41%)
- the check-in/check-out process (39%)
- ways to make service requests (36%)
- Energy-saving technology
Many hotel operators are committed to environmental sustainability programs and reducing energy. Starwood’s environmental goals were launched in 2009 and pledge to cut energy use by 30% and water use by 20% by 2020 globally. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide uses daylight harvesting to adjust indoor lighting, based on the amount of natural light coming in from outside. Thanks to motion sensor technology, lighting can be turned off automatically or temperature reduced when a room is unoccupied.
In Japan, robots in hotels are not just a novelty but a reality. Henn na Hotel opened in 2015 and is the world’s first hotel staffed by robots.
Travel Weekly recently reported on the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS), where predictions were made for the growth in hotel robots to deliver guest amenities and clean rooms. If predictions become reality, you might just find Maidbots cleaning your hotel room in the next five years. Investment into these types of technological innovations are fueled by decreasing technological costs, which at the same time provides hotels with the opportunity to reduce operating costs.
According to the Oracle Hospitality report, room cleanliness is still very important for overall guest satisfaction. Technology can help operators in this area if they are willing to invest:
It seems many travelers feel that technology is very effective for serving guests. Watch out for Botlrthen robots delivering in-room items like water bottles, pillows or toiletries. While they may be a novelty right now in select high-end hotels like the Marriott, there’s no doubt robots will become common in hotels. You’ve seen Back To The Future 2, right?
Demand for future technology improvements
Recognizing the role data and technology provide in order to exceed guest experiences, hotel operators are increasingly turning to data scientists to cater to their customers. To meet consumer’s high expectations, hoteliers need to know their interests, likes and dislikes to help deliver a unique, and very personal experience. This can make a long-lasting impression and provide that sought-after memorable experience.
Some of the ways data will help hotels is with creating a more personal guest experience. Personal data is fast becoming the number one commodity for organisations. With all this data come a wealth of insights, which can help hotel operators deliver a personal touch for every guest. Just consider, if the hotel knew their guest is a fitness fanatic or had a food allergy. They could offer a free gym pass, or provide a basket of free-from treats upon arrival.
Conclusions about hotel technology
While there is no doubt technology has a huge role to play in shaping the hotels of the future, there are some things it can never completely replace: the human touch.
The reality is that whilst human interactions are becoming less and less common, when they do take place they are more precious than ever before. Hotel operators must remember to still provide a positive human interaction. We’ll have to wait to see if this is still the case in 40 or 50 years time.
Rentokil Steritech is an expert in helping hotels improve their guest experiences. If you feel you need some help with providing the best hotel experience, contact your local Rentokil Steritech office today.