As hotels fight for guests’ loyalty, could the technology they use during the guests’ stay be the superweapon to turn the tide in their favour?
Hotels are fighting hard for customers and currently a lot of that effort goes into getting their marketing in front of guests’ eyeballs and winning the booking. However, the one period hotels have the guest completely to themselves is during the stay itself. Here, technology, both at the customers fingertips and behind the scenes, is now capable of making a real difference and winning over the customer’s loyalty says EyeforTravel’s new free report, The Future of In-Stay Technology.
Principally this technology is about putting the hotels services’ at the guest’s fingertips. These range from apps that can allow the guest to immediately receive answers to their questions any time of the day or night and book any on-site or arrange of external experiences. Tablets that can control an entire room’s features, such as lights, temperature, curtains, the TV and more. Smartphones that come with the room so that the guest can be connected to services whenever they need. These technologies are putting the hotel’s capabilities back in front of the guest whilst making their stay a more convenient and comfortable experience.
Furthermore, these technologies not only help hotels serve guests better and improve their ratings, they present enormous upsell opportunities that can help restore those all-important margins. If a hotel has managed to get a device with its app into the hands of a consumer, then they can use this to send them push notifications about key services. Chatbots and smart speakers can take user requests and once a hotel has gathered enough data, use this to make recommendations based on similar requests and customer profiles. Smarter in-room devices can put the hotel back into position as the local expert again and allow them to monetise local experiences, tours and activities.
Critically these technologies are also all gathering data around every guest interaction and many are capable of categorising and using this data in an automated manner. “Whilst I often hear complaints in the hospitality industry that the big online players have a data advantage that they can’t compete with – and to some extent that is true – this is finally a chance for hotels to turn the tables,” says Alex Hadwick, Head of Research for EyeforTravel. “Detailed guest preferences are a valuable thing and not only are you elevating the customer experience, your reinforcing that your hotel is delivering the service, not the intermediary. Smart tech in the hotel is a better way of gathering, storing and utilising key information that an OTA doesn’t have.”
Data gathered can not only be used as mentioned above for providing guests with services but also behind the scenes to improve staff performance. Connected technologies provide alerts on guest requests, enabling service to be immediate. They also provide transparency between the guest and property, and with back of house operations. Departments know what is being worked on, when and when it is complete and from a single source, heling to eliminate confusion. From a property-wide perspective, Internet of Things (IoT) devices can help with scheduling the regular maintenance of and other engineering works through notification of flaws, or simply let the hotel know when the guest is outside of their room through door entry monitoring, making service seamless and more efficient.
According to Pablo Rodríguez, Marketing Manager at Stay, smarter communications between guest and hotel, such as through a chatbot, “Eliminates mundane tasks, allowing the staff members to focus on valuable actions that cannot be automated.”
“These days everyone is so familiar with messaging as a means to communicate. Hotels are finding it easier to deal with five customers directly in their rooms via chat channels, instead of having five customers standing behind a reception counter,” explains Hammad Hussain, Managing Director of UK and Ireland, Tink Labs.
All of these innovations are adding up to a smarter, more responsive hotel that can take the fight back to the online environment and re-establish the relationship between guest and their stay.