April 14 2016

Digitally Adept Hotels – Are we looking at the big picture?

 

digital adept award

Earlier this week the annual L2 Digital IQ Index of luxury brand hotels was released revealing the most digitally savvy winners (and losers) of 2016. The index, by New York-based brand consultancy firm L2, benchmarks the digital performance of 55 luxury hotel brands operating globally. Their analyses focused on the 4 key areas of Mobile, Site and eCommerce, Digital Marketing and Social Media, and results were based on a scoring classification that included Genius, Gifted, Average, Challenged and Feeble – that last one seems pretty harsh.

For the second year in a row, Marriott Hotels took top honors, taking the title of “genius” (the only one!) followed by 9 “gifted” hotels. Forty hotels made up the mix of “average” and “challenged” and unfortunately 5 were awarded the title of “feeble” – which I am sure they won’t be too happy about. “Marriott was lauded for its Travel Brilliantly microsite that encourages guests to submit user-generated content, its mobile site and mobile app, and its online Marriott Traveller magazine,” says travel news site, Skift. It is true that, in terms of online presence and content, the Marriott user experience is cohesive, their brand messaging is consistent, and their marketing is well integrated both across channels and properties.

But there seems to be something missing here.

It’s funny how almost all of this report is related to the areas of marketing, branding and social. It seems that for L2, digital adept-ness is defined by sales and marketing only – nothing of the impact of digital on operations or service is mentioned.

Perhaps the world is a little blind as to where the real opportunities for digital – the improvement of the post-purchase guest experience, and the improvement of staff efficiency. Over the past year or so, the hotel industry has begun to embrace the digital connection between staff and guests during the stay. We submit: mobile PMS, mobile check-in and out, keyless entry, housekeepers on smartphones, in-hotel messenger apps, digital concierges, robot housekeeping, etc. To be digitally adept, a hotel company needs to think in terms of the entire hotel business, not just the consumer marketing side.

The real digitally adept hotels in the industry are often the new independent hotels that are re-imagining the entire hotel service culture from the ground up. A few of our clients, like Yotel, ROW NYC and Carillon Miami have been the real leaders in both the digital operations space and the marketing space. For what it is worth, we are giving them the Genius status.

Whereas the big brands are digital marketing leaders, converting operations to digital is much tougher for them. It is like turning a battleship. Standardizing on mobile check-in across 3000 hotels is a challenge. Some have tackled it though – our customer, MGM Resorts, has led the digital way with the very successful implementations of mobile check-in at places like Aria Resort & Casino.

Just remember, mobile check-in or housekeeping efficiency may not seem as sexy as social media or a cool website – but they certainly matter a lot more when that guest writes their TripAdvisor review!

by Jos Schaap, StayNTouch