After years of steady growth, hotel guest satisfaction plateaued in 2016. Customer satisfaction surveys suggest many of the go-to hotel perks, such as free Wifi, complimentary breakfast and premium linens, are no longer brand differentiators – rather they are the new norm. Increasingly, customers are looking for authenticity, personalisation and convenience in their travel experience; and technology is stepping in to meet these new expectations. The shifting customer mindset presents several opportunities for hotels to enhance the guest experience by leveraging technology to remove common pain points and offer more tailored on-demand service. Here are three examples of technology in action:
Mobile host team with wireless, tablet-based check-in
Unlike the stationary, transactional experience of the check-in desk clerk, wireless tablets and mobile apps free staff from a desk so they can move about the lobby to greet guests. At Hyatt’s Andaz brand, the traditional front desk reception concept has been replaced by circulating hosts that meet guests in the lobby as they walk in, escort them to a comfy couch and offer a complimentary glass of wine or café beverage as they complete the check in process. This “we come to you” greeting sets a different tone for the check-in process, helping guests feel more like welcome friends.
Enhanced high-tech entertainment
Today’s guests live on technology. Travelers of all ages are increasing their expectations of entertainment and information availability during their hotel experience. Novotel deployed over 400 AFTER-MOUSE.COM Play touch tables in their lobbies across 30 countries. Each touch table features a bundle of games for children and adults to provide multi-player entertainment on an easy to use display. Customer satisfaction surveys revealed a more than 90% increase in guest satisfaction, and overall satisfaction with the games and user experience of the touch table. Whether they’re placed in a lobby, entertainment center or guest rooms, touch tables deliver an interactive digital experience that feeds the needs of growing tech savvy guests.
Service via Artificial Intelligence
A new level of personalised, responsive concierge service is already being delivered with hotel chatbot technology. Whether it’s requesting towels, changing the check-out time or picking a place for dinner, hotel chatbots leverage the availability and convenience of mobile technology to reach guests through messenger apps. The momentum behind this technology is reinforced by Marriott International’s recent announcement that Dazzle, an in-room voice activated personal assistant that uses a hybrid of Artificial Intelligence and human brain to answer guest questions, will be joining their accelerator Marriott TestBED. This blend of human and technology thinking helps shortens response times, deliver actionable information (such as reservation confirmation and directions) and provide an overall more attentive concierge service.
Guest expectations of service and experience are constantly evolving, and leading hotels are enhancing their service to meet them. These three technologies are accessible to many hotels, requiring a small initial investment that can lead to greater efficiency and savings for the business and enhanced guest satisfaction. When considering technology investments, look for versatile products that offer flexibility and opportunities for future build-out. As guest expectations evolve, good technology should support creative thinking in customer service and engagement.