Friday, February 9, 2018

Making Your Guests Feel At Home with Mobile Tech

When thinking back on your most enjoyable travel experiences, what is the constant that always comes to mind? Your guest experience. Within the hospitality industry, creating a positive guest experience is not a new concept. What is new–and ever evolving–is what guests are expecting out of their stay. Gone are the times when simply providing free Wifi was seen as a perk. Today, the hospitality industry is challenged to think bigger and more innovatively to build brand rapport in a highly competitive field.

Eighty-three percent of people feel that travel is now more of a right than a luxury. Even further, 92 percent of people agreed that as guests, they expect a personalized stay based on decisions they were able to make prior to checking in. The key to achieving this hyper-personalized experience that guests now expect? Leveraging new technology, of course! The accessibility of technology presents an opportunity to transform the hospitality industry’s execution and aid in the creation of an impactful guest experience. So how can a hotel adjust and succeed with this changing mindset? Meeting guests on mobile. Here are a few of our tips for not only meeting your guests expectations on mobile, but exceeding them.

“Going Mobile”: Not Just A Native Mobile App
In today’s well-traveled world, two-thirds of people are using mobile apps for travel purposes, but the majority of them either didn’t know that hotels provided mobile apps, or were disappointed by the functionality the apps provided.

Open the app store on your phone and search any of major hospitality chains. You’ll see that many of these organizations made a significant investment to develop an app for their guests to use. Yet, because of the lack of functionality or the guests’ unwillingness to download, we are not seeing impactful adoption and integration rates. Guests want to be able to access key capabilities that go well beyond just booking and check-in (think: ordering food and drinks, chatting with concierge, and even unlocking their room), but don’t want to put up with the bulkiness of the current app state. Here’s where cloud-based mobile apps come in; They’re made-for-mobile experiences that take all the rich functionality of a native mobile app, but–since they’re cloud-based–don’t require a download. Big brands like Starbucks and Twitter are already seeing higher adoption rates with their cloud-based apps, and the hospitality industry shouldn’t be far behind.

Create A “Connected Room” for An Unforgettable Stay
Does this mobile-centric hotel experience sound a little far-off to you? It may feel futuristic, but major hotel brands are already leading the charge toward creating highly engaging stays with mobile technology. Let’s talk about Hilton. The hotel giant and mobile aficionado is leading the pack and creating an entirely transformed in-room experience by utilizing IoT technology. Currently in initial testing and roll-out stages, Hilton gives HHonors guests the opportunity to control much more of their guest experience from the convenience of their mobile device. For now, the features include a mobile room key, lighting control, cable remote with additional streaming capabilities, and HVAC control. Hilton has been able to be the “first-to-market” in implementing IoT technology in rooms, a fact that cannot be overlooked in an industry where differentiation is key to success.

“We are … setting a new standard for the industry by giving our guests a travel experience where the room knows them and they know the room” Hilton CEO, Christopher Nassetta.

Home Is Where Their Smartphone Is
The role of “the traveller” continues to transform. The next generation travellers no longer want these mobile-driven experiences…they expect them. This means that hotels should be working towards creating an experience that feels like an extension of what guests value about their in-home experience. The best way to do this in today’s tech climate? By transforming into a smart hotel. By taking a page out of Hilton’s book and leveraging mobile technology that guests are already implementing in their homes and daily lives, hotels will be able to grow to create a flexible and personalized guest experience that is accessible from the device they already have in their pockets.

The world is moving at a faster pace than ever before, and in the hospitality industry, competition is high and differentiation is low–which means finding ways to achieve a premier guest experience is critical. By integrating a mobile experience that leverages new technology to fit each guest’s individual needs, hotels will stand out in an otherwise level playing-field and create long-lasting guest relations, that will keep them visiting time and time again.