By Alessandra Orlando
Behind each business, there is always the action of selling a product and its market demand, the exchange of money and goods, and the exact moment when a customer’s needs or wishes are met and they gain possession of the product.
This process could never happen in Hotel Industry where the product sold is untouchable, subjective and ephemeral.
When customers purchase your “product”, what they are really purchasing is an experience, the value that derives from the satisfying, profitable, service provided to them.
For services companies, in fact, managing the customer’s experience is a critical component of most any successful strategy.
Customer expectations run higher and higher and the hotel industry has found that Technology might provide the means to overcoming this challenge, to fulfil every guest’s needs and attract new clients.
From the check-in process to the keyless system, from the “In Room” Dining to the room’s entertainment, the Hotel system is implementing new technologies in different ways.
Innovations in this sense happen by the minute, the swipe cards system will soon be obsolete and replaced by an app on your smartphone: Hilton hotel is leading the way for keyless entry, the company aims to install keyless entry service in 2,500 hotels by the end of the year.
In some service industries, the check-in process has already become a real travel experience. In Hong Kong, The Upper House Hotel features a new check-in system: the combination of technology and service starts with greeting the guest with an iPad and escorting him to his room, thereby conducting the guest check-in that finishes with the room presentation.
Guest expectations are changing so that means that hotels are changing too, the industry is entering a golden age of personalization in response to evolving consumer expectations.
Most hoteliers know the different guest profiles staying in their rooms, and those profiles have specific needs.
By identifying before and during check-in the general purpose of the trip, hoteliers can anticipate guest’s expectations.
An important aspect to best use the Technology service to guest’s needs is collecting personal data, all this data can help hotel operators to deliver a personal touch for every guest, with means a significant shift from “full Service” to “my Service”.
Think about knowing in advance guest habits, dreams, needs, where you can easily exceed expectations, leaving a good impression, delivering the WOW factor that generates the word of the month referrals, good feedbacks and creates repeat guests.
Among all these actions immediately visible to the guests, we cannot forget the interaction between the Hotel’s system and technology to facilitate and optimize reservations and guest interaction.
In 2016, during the last Hotel Visionary Awards ceremony, the Grand View Lodge (Nisswa, Minnesota) won the prize “customer-facing technology innovator”, for their proprietary reservations platform through which the Hotel had 3,435 activities booked online. Activities in fact are the heart of that exclusive Club and the reservation itself became a personalized experience.
Another area where technology is affecting guest experience is with In-Room entertainment and client’s interaction.
HD television is no longer enough to satisfy client’s needs, Marriott has taken notice of that trend and responded by integrating services like NetFlix and Amazon Video across its brands, providing a personalized guest experience that’s in keeping with how people nowadays watch television.
Signboards such as ‘Do not disturb’ are replaced by infrared and heat sensing scanners that will tell hotel staff when a guest is in the room, thereby avoiding potentially awkward situations.
Soon we will be able to pre-determine the color of our rooms, the ambient perfume, the light level, and our preferred sounds.
Room service and on-site restaurants also are vulnerable to technology influences. Seamless.com and other apps like it allow for easy food delivery eliminating the need for room service, especially in urban areas where a broad variety of high-quality food choices is available by room service.
A lot of new start-ups have analyzed food system implementation in the hotel industry to find a new approach and solutions.
At the end of November 2017 in Paris, the first Food Hotel Tech Forum took place, which focused on the three main areas in food and beverage: targeting and customer knowledge, sales and margins, customer experience.
Absolutely the Hotel industry is revolutionizing itself, its services and facilities.
For sure, technology will become a more dominant channel for service delivery in the near future, yet hoteliers should never forget the meaning of service itself, work done by a person that benefits another, which is why it is still more valuable to invest in an employee’s smile than in a technology system.
There will always be times when technology is not able to anticipate and understand a client’s needs. It can never completely replace human touch or a warm welcome, and while it represents the tools to provide good service it can never be identified as the service itself.
About the author
In her hospitality career of over 10 years she has worked in the three main operation departments: reception, concierge and guest relations.
Active and passionate for the hospitality industry she started traveling the world at 22 onboard cruise ships, from the Fjords to Dubai, from the Caribbean to Russia. She learned how to deal with customers also in challenging situations and she met and dealt with Royals and Celebrities.
Once, during an inspection to evaluate a new port of call she almost lost the Ship, but now that port is a quite common port of call for cruise ships in the Emirates: Kashab.