February 03 2015

Don’t Be Afraid Of New Technology In Your Hotel

When did hospitality end and technology begin, and why can’t they exist simultaneously. The hotel industry is gravitating towards self-service technologies, and they are harnessing these tools to differentiate their brands from competitors and customer demands. However, there are challenges in the hotel industry because expectations are different for everyone, and the way that people interact with hospitality workers has a lot to do with their recent experiences with other self-servicing technologies.

Anyone who has taken a flight in the last few years is used to dealing with digital tools to speed up their check-in and boarding experience, and/or adjust their personal preferences. Nowadays, customers expect to swipe their own credit cards, or engage in some point-of-sale terminal when making a purchase. Arne Sorenson, President and CEO of Marriot International was recently asked what technologies have proven to be worthy investments, and how they are important to the industry:

“The technology we are most interested in right now is customer-facing technology. We have lots of technology involved behind the walls in running a hotel—point of sale, property management systems, spa management systems. They are utilities in many respects. We need to make sure we are adopting those systems in a cost-effective way that is intuitive for our folks, that can change quickly {…} Increasingly that technology is expanding in both directions from the reservation itself towards trip planning, trip dreaming, if you will, researching about where to go, and all the way beyond the stay to sharing.”

Technology opens up tons of options and can ultimately change how the hotel industry engages with their guests. However, it’s important not to forget about the importance of human interaction. Instead of the traditional warm welcome getting displaced by guest-facing tech tools, employers should aim to train employees to use those tools as a way to build interpersonal relationships.

Through a recent independent analysis of the J.D Power Guest Satisfaction Index, findings suggested that customers would be most comfortable if they were allotted time and space to navigate tech tools, eventually involving the assistance of an employee, and therefore creating a meaningful bond through the tools designed to enhance their stay. Guest Service Agents do not have to be merely cashiers; they can be welcome hosts – both technical and personal.

Figuring out this balance between communication, technology, and human touch will help hotels remain competitive. Finding the right mix is becoming increasingly more important when it comes to the changing dynamics of purchasing power – and customers are driving the change.

By Ronnie Coleman Sales Executive at StayNTouch, Inc.