Our general life preferences are becoming more focused on technology as the world around us continues to become more digital, and the hospitality industry is becoming transformed by these digital technologies too. But what exactly is changing in the hotel industry?
We have started to become more interested in engrossing ourselves in the local culture of the places to which we travel, using digital technology as our guide. For example, Google Maps no longer makes us wary of travelling to new areas because we can see places highlighted on an app, which even has helpful reviews to let us know whether we would like to visit those attractions or bars/restaurants.
However, where we really have some help is when we go to look for a place to stay during our trips. Whether these be fortnight-long leisure jaunts, or even just a one-night business stay over, digital technologies can help us find the best place for us to lay our heads. And, of course hotels and other places are interested in using technologies to make sure that they are certain a customer’s trip will be at its very best.
Social media and customer care
Even if you aren’t an avid Facebook or Twitter user, you’re likely to have at least seen one of your friends write a post along the lines of “Does anyone know any good hotels in *insert place here*?” And just like that hotels in the relevant area are suddenly privy to positive (or negative reviews), sometimes within seconds.
The great thing about social media is that it gives places in the hospitality industry the chance to have their say too. If a hotel or bar is tagged in a post, similar to the one above, they will receive a note of it, which is an opportunity to send and receive information on the best features of that place.
It seems to go without saying that any aspect of the hospitality industry needs its own Facebook profile and Twitter handle. If you own a hotel for example, this is the easiest and potentially the best way for you to garner positive, practically free publicity for your business. This is particularly true of millennials (adults aged 18-29 who have grown up in a digital society) as they crave relationships and having a social media profile to boost your products will help to establish a strong one with your customers.
Dealing with negative customer complaints is also extremely easy thanks to social media, as the internet has given everyone a voice and people tend not to be shy about expressing their frustration through tweets and posts. If a hotel does receive negative feedback, it’s generally accepted to respond to that person within an hour to make them feel heard.
Places in the hospitality industry can also instigate conversations and discussions, which Likeable Social Media calls ‘table talk’ and it can help build trust with your customers.
Technology that integrates
Moving on from social media, technology has now begun to integrate into people’s everyday lives, thanks to things like Apple Watch. Not just a standard watch, this model allows the user to track their own movements with a pedometer and running enthusiasts find it a welcome companion when they’re training.
But what of hotel integration? Hotels such as the Hilton have begun offering a digital room selection choice and and a digital check-in service for their guests, according to Travel Trends Today.
This service is live across 4,300 hotels in general and includes 14 hotels that operating by Hilton Worldwide in India. With this service, guests will be able to check-in and choose their exact room from digital floor plans on their desktop, tablet and mobile devices.
While this takes away face-to-face customer relations, what is does do is help to improve customer satisfaction as they will be able to customise their stay, by picking a room from a digital floor plan and requesting upgrades. They can also make special requests for items to be delivered to their rooms ahead of their arrival, with just one touch to the screen of a smartphone.
The aim of this ease of room preference and check-in is to reward loyal customers to the Hilton chain by giving them freedom of choice to better enjoy their stay.
Some other hotels are also integrating technology into their hospitality service, by teaming up with Apple Watch to allow customers to enjoy keyless room entry. This takes the stress out of staying in a hotel as you won’t have to worry about where the key is and who has it at that particular time.
In the back end of hotels (i.e. not front of house) sensor systems are already well in place with regards to things like built-in sensors for lights and air conditioning, which can be controlled via mobile or tablet applications.
More on mobile devices
As mobile devices were invented to make it easier for us to stay in communication with each other via call, text, tweet and so on… But, the reality is that we use them for so much more than communication, they’re a tool that we need to perform tasks and make our lives easier.
Of course, this has begun to revolutionise the hospitality industry in ways that we don’t even realise. For example, how often do we go into bars or restaurants and our orders are taken on specific smartphones or tablets.
Apple was one of the first companies to do this in a consumer setting, being a pioneer of digital technologies. But now many hospitality related businesses find that mobile devices fit their strategic vision, operational methods and budgets better than computers. This is because computers and desktops in particular can be cumbersome and their hardware has virtually disappeared from modern homes. Even laptops and web browsers are being swapped for tablets around the home and books are being swapped for Kindles, because even books are too clunky for the modern person.
With regards to hotels, tablets can take up less space and perform much faster than traditional computers. Smartphones are also becoming a valuable tool for concierge professionals as it means they can interact with guests from anywhere on the property. It also affords guests the opportunity to have their problems solved in real time, rather than having to go hunting for somebody to talk to.
Overall digital technologies are improving the hospitality industry by increasing their channels of engagement and thereby opening up new methods of communication with their customers.
Social media allows the hospitality industry to enjoy the benefits of cheap/free advertising and improvement features such as Facebook ‘Place Tips’. This up-and-coming feature on the Facebook platform is a true product of digital industry as it takes into account where a person currently is (i.e. staying in a hotel) and then generates a list of places that they might like to go to that are nearby.
Things like these digital developments and the ever-increasing dependence on mobile and digital technology by the current generation and subsequent generations are going to continue to have a positive effect on the hospitality industry.
Similarly, partnerships between hotels and technology companies are going to help the industry build a trusting relationship with their customers. Features like the room-booking and request service are completely customer-focused and encourage optimum relaxation and communication, which should make for a perfect hospitality experience.