The best restaurateurs and hoteliers want you to feel at home. Isn’t that what we say to our own guests in our our own houses? “Make yourself at home”. Hotels offer just that, a home away from home. It’s nearly impossible—how does one actually feel at home when not physically there? Yet as an industry, we still try.
So think about the last time you stayed at a friend’s house and they told you to make yourself at home. Have you ever tried to turn on someone else’s TV? Making one’s self at home sounds simple, but can be a challenge! Now imagine if you could work your friends’ TV from your remote. . .
Let’s talk about what doesn’t enhance the stay: difficulty. Your friend’s home theater setup has different components, remotes, buttons and settings than your own home theater setup.. If you can’t get it running after a few tries, chances are that you’ll read a book instead. Hotel TVs, by default, have to be easier. That said, more devices, more software and more touchscreens can make things more difficult. No matter what the system is, functionality and complexity are often directly related. As cool as it is to control your room temperature from the same application that orders your room service, if it’s harder to use than picking up the phone to place an order, then you’re still going to use the phone.
With any consumer facing technology, if the user has to figure out how to use it, to navigate or to find what they need, then you’re doing it wrong. If there’s even a modicum of effort, then the user won’t use it.
The same goes for your guests. Your guests already use world class mobile apps on a daily basis on devices in their pockets that they trust. Whatever the guest facing hotel system you’re deploying, it must have ease-of-use on par the best consumer facing platforms out there. If that guest facing platform requires another device, then the learning curve automatically increases.
Today’s guests want technological solutions, but another app or another device, they do not.
By Bryn Williams, StayNTouch Director of Strategic Accounts and Hotel Software Geek