In the last few years, amazing technologies were introduced—big-data analytics, cloud computing, and the mobile revolution, just to name a few. With advances like these, the way we communicate is changing rapidly. When we needed someone we used to call that person, or scheduled a in person meeting. At first that was largely replaced by email, while today most people sent many text messages to each other (Teenagers average 80+ messages p/day while adults are getting close to an average of 50+ per day). Most people who today want something from someone else, often request it via TXT, email or use their smartphone to ask for it, less calling or less in person meetings. How can hotels play into that?
Many hoteliers believe that in person interaction with guests is the only way to serve and satisfy the guest. Is it? With most of us closely attached to our smartphone for most of the day (yes we can all admit to that), hotels should look to that as an opportunity. When guests receive a welcome message from the hotel, or when their check in process was flawless and they were directed to their favorite rooms, all by using their smartphone, the guest is happy and satisfied. During all of this the hotel is close with the guest and has the opportunity to create a lasting virtual connection with the guest.
While speaking with a live hotel staff member might sound service oriented to the hotelier when a guest has to call room service to order a burger, or housekeeping to order an extra towel. To the guest it might actually come across as old fashioned and even be disruptive, as for hotel services or communications the guest cannot use her smartphone. Since the guest is working email, browsing her social life, order some clothes, checking in for tomorrow’s flight all from her smartphone, hotels should see services provided through the guests smartphone actually as a way to connect and interact with the guest.
People consider their Facebook connections as “friends” and feel connected and close to them, why should that be any different from hotels responding to a guests service request via smartphone? Hotels should consider enabling a closed message system during the guests stay, enabling the guest to request anything through a simple message directed to a staff in person or a department. The hotel can respond quickly with a personal message to assist the guest. Probably faster and more efficient than via a voice call.
Of course hotels will still need friendly and knowledgable staff to assists guest in person, especially to those that are on a nice leisure break, but I bet that the average business traveller would be more than happy to communicate using her smartphone, if she gets what she wants in a timely manner, the hotel just created a new connection with a guest.
Just like outside the hotel, where I can do anything with my smartphone, “smart” hotels should work towards a hotel app tightly integrated with the hotels PMS enabling guests to manage their entire stay, from check in to communicating with hotel staff, or get info on what’s going, even with some social engagement and the option for guests to do a quick hotel review or simply ask a hotel staff member, through a message, a question or for a service request. These days that’s the same way most people get things done outside of a hotel!
By Jos Schaap, CEO-Founder at StayNTouch