By Thomas Grundner
A common scenario in 2021: A weary business traveler walks into a hotel in Dubai, one that she’s booked effortlessly a few days before using her smartphone. She bypasses the check-in desk and heads straight to her room. The door opens without the need for a keycard.
The room is on her preferred side of the hotel and she is pleased because she didn’t specifically request it. Lighting and temperature have been set too to her preferences, remembered from her previous visit.
Tired after a long flight, she orders her favorite beverage to be brought up, without even opening her mouth. The drink is brought in just a couple of minutes by an assistant that addresses her by name.
She’s then alerted to an unmissable spa offer on her smartphone, so finishes her drink and heads down to enjoy a last-minute pedicure. As she heads down, she makes a mental note to always return to this hotel when she’s in town.
So what will have made this the norm?
The answer is the continued rise of the “age of assistance.”
We are now entering the “age of assistance.” Assistance technology for our home, and wearable technology too are increasingly mainstream. Many now have access to the internet at all times, whether it be via a smartphone, Echo or Google Home. When you require information, you can receive it in an instant.
So, how is this impacting the hotel industry?
The rise of assistance technology such as digital assistant devices, smartphones, wearable devices, chatbots, and even biometric security technology all mean that today’s travelers are now increasingly expecting streamlined, flawless transactions with their hotels.
The modern traveler in today’s age of assistance is fully accustomed to not having to wait for answers or help. If they want to discover attractions in Dubai, they want the information at their fingertips. They are curious but are demanding and above all, have high expectations.
Is your hotel ready for the challenges that age of assistance brings?
Here are three ways you can bring your hotel experience up-to-date and compete in this tough era.
1. A Flawless Digital User Experience
The way in which customers purchase hotel rooms is changing rapidly. Consumers are increasingly comfortable with making travel arrangements and purchases on smartphones, whether they are booking a business hotel in Chicago or planning a vacation at the JA Enchanted Island Resort in Seychelles. An easy booking system and fast mobile site are an absolute must for any hotel.
It also appears that travelers are increasingly confident turning to digital assistants such as Siri, Echo or Google Home for travel information. As many as 1 in 3 search for every detail about their trip, from destinations to hotels to flights and more, according to a Google-Phocus wrights study. Chatbots are also dealing with more and more customer interactions online. There is no doubt that consumers are increasingly comfortable engaging with AI and talking to computers.
These instant information sources that everyone is becoming so accustomed to mean that the modern hotel guest can be characterized as impatient. Busy travelers now expect a flawless, almost instant transaction at any time. Hotels that keep potential guests waiting, or allow a frustrating experience, do so at their peril. Fast download speeds for mobile users are imperative.
It is essential that hoteliers make steps to ensure they have a significant presence across all digital platforms, prioritizing user experience at all times.
2. Digitally Driven Customer Interactions
There is no doubt that technology is going to continue to drive change in the way guests interact with your hotel.
Mobile hotel communications systems are still an emerging technology. However, there will soon be an expectation from guests that guest-facing mobile is available as a primary way of receiving assistance within the property. In-room tablets and voice-controlled digital assistants will be a main source of information for guests. This means they can bypass traditional ways of requesting services within the hotel.
It is expected that biometric technology will increasingly be used to improve security and allow guests to bypass check-in.
However, increased reliance on guest management technology does not mean that hotels will lose their human element. It will instead free staff away from basic tasks to concentrate on meaningful guest interaction more.
3. A Data-Driven Personalized Guest Experience
It is now entirely possible to personalize a guest’s experience of your hotel by using personal preference and previous trip data. In fact, data from the Google’s Future of Travel survey shows that 57 percent of current U.S travelers feel that travel brands should already be personalizing guest information and that 36 percent of guests are happy to pay more for this individual experience.
This could include anticipating room preferences and options such as location, cooling system, and lighting, or tailoring specific information given to each traveler. To maximize guest experience, for instance, opportunities exist for sending out personalized real-time offers as a guest sets foot in your hotel via smartphones and wearable devices.
In addition, these chances to wow guests leave a lasting impression. As all hoteliers know, it is more cost effective to retain repeat customers than acquire new guests each time. These opportunities shouldn’t be wasted.
The “age of assistance” will be a challenge for hotels as they fight to keep up with the pace of change and altering guest expectations. However, in such a customer-focused industry, the opportunities to further personalize and improve guest experience are certainly enticing. Forward-thinking hoteliers have exciting times ahead.