Service in Action: Hospitality
REDUCE OVERHEAD AND IMPROVE
GUESTS' EXPERIENCES USING MOBILE,
Technology affects many industries, and that includes the hospitality industry. Guests have been empowered by having mobile phones with applications that take care of many of their wants and needs, and many want their hotel stay to have the same immediate, self-serve attributes. In fact, not upgrading your hotel IT system may lead to losing what were loyal guests because they feel the hotel has become outdated. Some may argue that having guests interact with hotel staff as little as possible seems impersonal, but that doesn't have to be the case.
Hotels are creating amazing, memorable, personalized guest experiences by staying on top of new technologies and what they can offer to the hospitality industry. From the time a customer books a room to the time they check out, there are technologies available to enhance a guest's stay every step of the way:
Custom mobile applications for a hotel can create loyalty from users, not only through member rewards, but also by using a guest's profile information to personalize packages, add-ons, and suggested activities. For example, if a guest typically books a certain type of room, the app can ease the booking process by suggesting the same type of room, or even the same specific room the guest stayed in previously if was “favorited” by the guest. Taking it a step further, adding LANs to the IT system would allow the hotel to know at what temperature a guest typically sets their room and how much they dim the lights so these can be automatically set for when the guest arrives. If a guest's data shows they have young children, the application could display optional add-ons like a kids' snack basket, babysitting services, or suggest local amusement parks or family friendly restaurants. Or if a guest has a pattern of staying in locations close to a beach, the app could deliver notifications of their locations located near beaches.
During check-in, rather than waiting in a long line, the guest could have the option of checking in through the hotel's custom mobile application or through a self-check-in kiosk with paired NFC technology allowing them to use their phone to pay, and smart room key technology so they can use their phone as their room key. Again, optional add-on packages could be suggested during this process based on the guest's profile, or other services like the ability to make a reservation for dinner in the hotel's restaurant or a massage at the hotel's spa could be offered.
Because of mobile technology, a secure wi-fi network with a seamless connection is expected by most hotel guests. In fact, many hotel guests will not pay for wi-fi in a hotel, choosing instead to pay a likely lower rate through their mobile carrier for connecting outside their homes even though connectivity and reliability may be spotty. And with so many mobile carriers offering customer perks like free data anywhere, anytime, the pay model for hotel wi-fi is quickly becoming obsolete. For hotel wi-fi to be seen as a perk, it needs to be free and able to handle a full user experience, including phone calls and streaming via multiple personal mobile devices (phone, tablet, game console), with little to no interruption. Upgrading a hotel’s wi-fi to a hotel-wide high-density wi-fi infrastructure may seem pricy, but when guests can connect and access the internet easily, it also allows them to browse hotel add-ons and amenities at their leisure.
Upgrading wi-fi infrastructure is also important for accommodating business travelers, especially if you have meeting and conference facilities. Guests attending a business conference will want great indoor mobile coverage with easily accessible and secure internet connectivity for work laptops, VOIP, and video conferencing.
Perhaps a better solution to a hotel’s connection needs is cloud computing. Not only does it provide safe, reliable connectivity; cloud computing is also less of an investment as it does not require additional IT infrastructure or servers, nor does its administration need to be managed in-house.
During a guest’s stay, upgraded wi-fi or cloud connectivity can allow guests to easily view in-house activities, entertainment, and amenities via the hotel app. This can also give guests access to movies, music, and video games which can be streamed through the room’s TV or various personal mobile devices. And again, offerings can be suggested or curated specifically for each guest based on their profile information. The more a guest stays loyal to a specific hotel chain, the more their experience is personalized as information is gathered from each stay on when they typically travel, where, what type of room they usually book, what they have purchased using member points and bonuses, what types of restaurants they like to visit, and the types of attractions and amenities they have enjoyed.
Maybe a guest is exhausted from a day of running around to different local attractions or is perhaps feeling a bit under the weather. These instances are typically when a guest would rather not have to interact much with people in-person or on the phone. Being able to view and request items from the concierge or view the room service menu and order at the touch of a finger on a mobile device makes these services so easy to use many wouldn’t be able to resist. Of course, if you want to show how forward-thinking your hotel is when it comes to technological enhancements, you can even have a concierge robot that is able to move from floor to floor delivering various requested items to rooms.
Receiving the hotel bill under your door on your checkout day and having to walk down to the front desk to pay is incredibly antiquated. Many hotels have upgraded to a guest being able to view their bill on the TV and pay by inputting their credit card information, which is much easier. However, the checkout process can be made as easy as the check-in process with the customized hotel app and NFC technology. A guest would be able to view their bill in the app at any time during their stay so there are no “surprises” at check-out time, and they can easily pay their bill via the app as well as alert the valet to bring their car around. The process is easy, smooth, and allows the guest a hassle-free way to quickly get on their way.
The services provided in the above examples can all be implemented by upgrading IT infrastructure or, better yet, implementing cloud technology along with custom application development, NFC technology and converged LANs. The goal here is not to remove personal interactions with hotel staff, but to allow a guest to interact as little or as much as they prefer with hotel staff.