Making Guests Happy: Balancing Hotel Technology and Service
So, it finally happened! According to the most recent American Hotel & Lodging Association Lodging Survey, hotels are investing in technology as a means of improving the overall hotel guest experience. Key technology findings in the report include;
- The overall use of mobile devices for check-in rose greatly, with this service being offered in 65% of hotels
- High speed in-room Internet plus wireless access is now an industry norm, expanding to 98% of hotels
- Only 9% of hotels now charge for room Internet (although we think this should be lower!)
So it seems that hoteliers are finally prioritizing convenience and comfort by offering services like mobile check in and out, and guests can also expect an array of the technological assets they’ve grown accustomed to in their everyday lives, including high-speed and wireless Internet in more places and high-definition, flat screen TVs.
However, it’s not thumbs up all round. While hotels are now grasping the need to invest in newer hotel technology there is concern that there needs to be more balance between the investments made with service and personalization to ensure guest satisfaction and also to ensure hoteliers reap the return on investment they so desperately desire. Simply investing and having newer technology isn’t enough and doesn’t necessarily equate to better customer satisfaction or an automatic increase in revenues – application and implementation of investments made need to be matched.
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What does all this mean? Data. As a result of providing more hotel technology solutions, digitally enabled guests expect hotels to give them ever more personalized services – which can be achieve through the use of customer data. According to Grant Thornton, almost 90% of enterprises across sectors believe that data analytics will redefine their industry by 2017 – yet they believe hotels are moving too slowly or are simply not ready for the era of digital, data‑centric business. “The good news is consumers have evolved and they realize brands collect data from them. What irritates them is when the brand doesn’t use the data to reward the customer or acknowledge they ‘know’ them.” Melissa Fruend, a partner at LoyaltyOne Consulting.
According to research conducted by Forrester for Sabre Hospitality, nearly twice as many travelers prefer to stay in hotels that know them, as opposed to those offering anonymity and 51% of travelers are open to sharing personal information, just as long as they get something in return, such as relevant deals, discounts or loyalty points. When the Denihan Hospitality Group, a boutique hotel chain, collated, analyzed and used their customer data, everything from customer feedback to room price, their length of stay and more, to encourage valuable guests to return, the company found it produced more than 30 times the revenue it invested, while greatly increasing customer loyalty!
Collecting and analyzing consumer data is a win-win for both hoteliers and guests alike; guests receive targeted, timely, personalized offers and a superior service, (equating to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty) while hotels can upsell and grow new business. Hoteliers that can deliver effective mobile‑centric personalization will become brands of choice.