Hospitality can often have several definitions, but one main theme that stays consistent is catering to your guests’ real needs and desires. As technology is becoming more central to guests’ lives, their needs have changed. Hotels that adapt their guest experience to technology the fastest will be able to reap the benefits from this trend.
8 years ago, no one thought to order a cab with the touch of their phone. Now, with Uber, it’s an expectation. 2 years ago, no one thought to pre-order fast food ahead online. Now, Starbucks. Panera. Chipotle. As the millennial generation has grown up with this technology, they will start to expect hotel services to work the same way.
Good Hospitality Never Goes Out of Style
The best technology makes your guest feel at home – whether that be placing an in-room tablet bedside so they can browse through articles, hotel information, concierge or a voice-activated solution where service is accessible with just a few voice commands. Any of these solutions means instant access to information as well as the replication of on-demand services guests are accustomed to at home.
But, removing the language barrier may be the biggest win in terms of guest comfort. No matter where guests are in the world, they will always feel at home with the ability to automatically change languages in seconds, on the solution that your guest chooses.
Technology Can Change Operations Too
Combine a staff-facing platform and guest-facing platform and you will see true value. When hotels begin to feed in an integrated back-end solution that blends in with the guest-facing solution, those efficiencies clearly show ROI.
Streamline guest requests – automated routing and integrations for guest request and order accuracy
Rich imagery and upsell options/features driving more sales
Reduce printing costs and consolidate in-room information
Reduce demand on the front desk and increase guest satisfaction by minimizing the time spent in lines
Business intelligence & analytical tools
It’s important to rebuild your operational practices and business model around your customer’s real needs and desires. Guests have changed over the last ten years with the adaption of technology. Have you?
Voice-activated hotels can provide a new era of customer satisfaction by saving time for guests and staff, giving guests a personalized experience, and becoming a new amenity that your hotel can market. Here, we break down the voice-activated hotel room and what it can do for your guests.
Saving time for your guests
From tablets to smartphones, people are spending more time in front of screens. The vast majority of Americans, 95 percent, now own a cellphone of some kind (Pew) Nearly 75% of Americans own a desktop or laptop, and 42 percent use voice assistants. (Pew). We can communicate with people on the other side of the world, look up the answer to a question in less than 30 seconds and stream entertainment almost flawlessly. While this is amazing as far as convenience goes, it’s leading to growing impatience in our society. We want things instantly.
A voice-activated hotel room is one way to save your guests the time they value so much.
On average, once a guest reaches their hotel room, they spend the first few minutes adjusting the temperature, figuring out the lighting, fiddling with the shower taps, and playing with the TV.
In voice-activated hotel rooms, guests can walk in and set everything just the way they want it right away. They can adjust the temperature and turn on the lights, find out the weather for the day just by speaking. This leaves them with more time to enjoy their stay. Couple that with the convenience of not having to figure out a new world of switches, and you’ve got a happy customer.
Personalization on a whole new level
To truly differentiate a brand, hotels must develop a strong service culture that makes a guest feel special and appreciated, in order for them to come back. With voice-activated hotel rooms, you have a powerful partner in helping them feel more at home in their rooms.
Having Alexas in the room lets hotels personalize the room experience with music, having the ability to request more towels rather than having to call down the front desk.
It’ll make the guests feel more welcome, more comfortable, and more impressed in their rooms. Which means that they’ll feel more like coming back next time they’re in town.
It can drive your hotel above the competition
Like several technologies, voice-activated rooms will probably become the norm way sooner than we may think. But for the now, it’s relatively exclusive — and things that are exclusive have lots of allure. Since they won’t find the feature elsewhere, future guests are going to want to stay in your hotel to experience it. That goes double for the type of guest looking for a luxury stay.
Plus, a good hotel room makes guests feel special and is a huge determinant of whether or not they enjoy their trip. So when they go home and tell everyone about their vacation, they’ll surely tell them about the fantastic hotel they stayed in and how the room was voice-activated. And when it comes to hotel marketing, we all know that a word of mouth review can do more than any digital ad or TV commercial.
A hotel app has great potential to aid in cultivating satisfied, loyal guests if hotels can figure out how to embrace innovation and prove to guests that the app is designed with their best interest at heart. Features such as direct messaging, mobile check-in, and mobile hotel room key are a step in this direction, but it’s up to hoteliers to become more forward thinking in taking advantage of the opportunity that mobile presents to create a much-needed refreshment in the guest experience.
Once your hotel has determined that you will create a mobile app, and go through the process of developing and fine-tuning it, it’s now time to promote. Below are three INTELITY Hotel Partners who thought outside the box for gaining usage of their mobile app and created excitement for their guests.
Unico Hotel Rivera Maya
Unico created a list to post on their website of 10 things you didn’t know you could do on their app. They personalized it to their hotel’s unique amenities, such as read about the Kimbai art pieces in the lobby, pointing out features within the app including sending a digital posted card to loved ones and even upselling their spa services, such as booking a Volcanic Stone Massage.
Unico was able to highlight the exclusive amenities offered to their hotel while giving their guest a reason to check out the mobile app. As well their homepage also features the app, telling guests to make the most of their stay and to download the UNICO 20°87° Experience app.
Conrad Hotels & Resorts
Conrad Hotels & Resorts looked to use their mobile app Conrad Concierge within the Hilton Honors app to reach guests directly and immediately, without being unobtrusive. They were the first service-enabled hotel brand app made available in 2012 and surpassed 180,000 users in the first two years.
Their main goal was to increase sign-ups for the Hilton Honors loyalty program and provide mobile concierge services to guests. They used access to a suite of mobile features to serve as an incentive to get guests to download the app. To promote the app, they used several marketing techniques so that it would be a consistent message and reminder throughout their guests’ stay.
Couples Resorts chose to announce the creation of their app along with their partnership with INTELITY in an informative press release. Their app focuses on amplifying the on-property experience to delight guests and provide additional support once they have booked a reservation with one of the brand’s resorts. Press releases often include images, videos and other multimedia which means they were able to convey their message in an interesting way. As well, the press release was distributed to millions of people around the world instantly through email and social media, expanding public knowledge about Couple’s new offering. Through the press release, Couples was able to create a buzz for the soon-to-be-released mobile app.
3 compelling reasons to choose Mobile Messaging over other service channels.
Welcome to the next era of customer service. Let’s start by taking a look at these statistics:
97% of Americans use mobile text messaging at least once a day.
Texting takes up 14.1% of cell phone users’ time. (Nielsen)
90% of all text messages are read in under 3 minutes. (Connect Mogul)
80% of people are currently using texting for business. (eWeek)
One in five consumers is just as likely to prefer a text message from a business to a phone call. (ICMI)
Today’s guests have come to expect personalized service wherever they are, exactly when they want it — and fast. While mobile messaging will not be your only service channel, here are three compelling reasons to choose it over other service channels.
24/7 service – Give Guests the Convenience of Messaging Without Sacrificing Luxury Service
Guests want personal attention, even on a business trip or a short weekend vacation. Mobile messaging lets your guests have the convenience of the technology, without compromising the staff’s standard of luxury. A guest can use their preferred method of communication – like SMS or Facebook Messenger – to connect with the front desk at any time and receive an amazing service experience.
For instance, your guest has checked-in early but would like to play a round of golf before his room is ready. He can text you as he finished up on the golf course so you know he is ready to check in his room.
Your Hotel Can Still Have the ‘Human Touch’
Be there for your guests the way a good friend is – with mobile messaging. At the time of check out, let each of your guests know that can have instant access to someone at your hotel with SMS. Your hotel can do this in a variety of ways:
At the time of check-in, give the guest a business card along with their room key letting them know the designated number to text. Add a token of personalization by having your hotel staff write the name of the guest at the top of the card.
Before the guest checks in, your hotel can send a “pre-arrival checklist” and list the phone number and other ways your guest can contact the hotel before and during their stay.
Drive service costs down and ROI up
By utilizing text messaging, your hotel can boost agent productivity with a solution that lets staff manage multiple text conversations at once – with all the context and intelligence they need to resolve cases and deliver a luxury customer experience, every time.
For example, your guest sees a light bulb is burnt out in the bathroom. He can simply text a picture of the item and let your staff know of the maintenance issue.
INTELITY’s Messaging solution is a central portal that combines text and messaging platforms into one interface that hotel staff can use to respond to guests in real-time. The Messaging solution, with the help of INTELITY Staff, can be used to open tickets for guests and create a more efficient workflow.
With INTELITY’s Messaging solution, now any hotel can deliver a connected guest service experience at scale. Messaging allows hotels to adapt quickly and easily to guest’s ever-changing needs, within the award-winning INTELITY Staff platform. Finally, your hotel can deliver an amazing and effortless service experience that fits your brand and bottom line.
Conversational service is here. Stay ahead of today’s guests and start engaging them in the channel and messaging apps they prefer.
Is your hotel looking to take your social media marketing to the next level? Hotels that consistently connect with their guests via social media have been found to increase awareness of their hotel and build stronger bonds with their guests, leading to a likelihood of higher mobile app adoption rates and long-term success.
In the modern travel industry, there has been a culture of sharing reviews and experiences online. Recently, EyeforTravel found that 70% of travelers update their Facebook with photos and text posts while on vacation. This percentage goes up to 97% for Millennials, according to Internet Marketing Inc.
Personal recommendations, through these shared travel experiences, have become the most trusted form of ‘advertising’, because, at the end of the day, people trust people – not brands, according to research by Neilson.
Hotels can smartly use social media to capitalize on these trends in order to see an increase in bookings, a return in clientele and encourage growth in their hotel.
Here are six social media marketing tips that hotels can start utilizing now:
TAKE TIME TO LISTEN THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA
When you consider your marketing strategy and evaluate your choices for addition to technology and new strategies, make sure you have a firm foundation with which to build on. Social media can provide a window into knowing what guests want – and be very useful for improving marketing, operations, and management.
Local Measure, who examined content via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for two months in 2017 looked at 300 hotels were popular places for guests social chatter. Here were the results:
Restaurant/meals – 11,700 posts
Drinks/ The Bar – 6,400 posts
View from the guest room – 4,000 posts
Key room features/condition of the room – 3,000 posts
The pool/swimming – 2,800 posts.
Clearly, dining and bar areas are popular locations to ensure a social media-friendly experience. Enhancing aesthetic features such as backdrops and soft lighting, without sacrificing other parts of the guest experience will lead to overall guest satisfaction and loyalty – and provide the perfect Instagram or Snapchat photo opportunity.
ENGAGEMENT IS CRITICAL
Engagement is essential for becoming a ‘social’ hotel. By engaging online, hoteliers can offer greater personalization and lead guests toward those incredible customer service experiences that have come to define luxury hotel guest service. Here’s how you can engage socially:
If the guest does engage on social media while on property, make them feel extra special by engaging back
Use collateral to recommend hashtags for your location then keep your social media team on the ball by looking out for guests that engage with that property
Thank guests for any posts and keep an informal friendly tone that is in line with your brand
ASK FOR ONLINE REVIEWS
It is clear that reviews are critical both in influencing guests during their path to purchase and inspiring loyalty for returning guests. Asking people for online reviews and making it easy for them to fill out, will likely increase the opportunities for positive reviews of your property.
INTELITY’s Mobile App and Messaging solutions can serve as a convenient bridge for conversations with hotel guests. An increasing number of guests carry a personal mobile device and are enthusiastic to use their mobile device for active digital engagement with hotel staff.
Specifically, INTELITY’s Mobile App comes with built-in features, such as digital comment cards or the ability to send a push notification or text message which you could use to request guest feedback after they have checked out.
Guest responses can provide insight into their behavior and preferences and can be leveraged to increase overall hotel guest satisfaction and loyalty. This is can be critical for appealing to modern travelers, who place more value on personalized guest experiences.
CATER TO THE ‘EXPERIENCE SEEKING’ GUEST
Guests are becoming “experience seekers.” They are actively looking for something new and different that might be photo or Facebook-worthy. Ask yourself what kind of guest experience you want to provide, then think outside-the-box to come up with strategies and technologies to implement at your hotel.
We admire Conrad Hotels’ desire to continue to be innovative in their approach to content marketing, as well as, a useful service for its guest through the Conrad 1/3/5 campaign. This campaign was built with local travel itineraries for 1-, 3- and 5-hour time frames in destinations from all around the world. For your own private tour, visit StayInspired.com.
Conrad 1/3/5 or the StayInspired campaign has inspired trust in the Conrad brand by becoming an invaluable resource for travelers and guests. As a member of the hospitality field, carefully consider your hotel’s location and what you think will improve or enhance your guests’ experience.
USE SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCERS TO BOOST YOUR BRAND
One thing that guests are more loyal to than social media itself are the influencers that they subscribe to in their daily lives. Influencer marketing is currently one of the fastest growing customer acquisition methods out there today.
Influencer marketing is a powerful way to connect with larger audiences with the added touch of a trusted voice – which is especially valuable for lifestyle and boutique hotels aiming to define and build their identity. One main factor that needs to be considered in choosing an influencer for your hotel is the influencer’s audience demographic. The audience you want to choose should match both the hotel’s distinct personality and target market.
Influencers don’t always have to be social media celebrities. They can simply be users with a significant following who are representative of your target market, such as a social-savvy corporate traveler. Followers will be more likely to relate to these down-to-earth personalities, which could lead to higher bookings and better social brand loyalty to your hotel.
Consider a Marketing Strategy that Focuses on Guest-Curated Content
A solid social media strategy should also include more than your hotel’s professionally photographed images. You can amplify a sense of trust in your brand by promoting content created by your guests. Help your guests and potential guests find the things they are interested in, whether it be a local area attraction or event, and show those interested in your hotel that you are the go-to for all things in your area.
Re-share a recent guest’s Instagram photo where they discuss how amazing the hotel decor is, how delicious their complimentary breakfast was, or how they cannot get over how good the view from their hotel room is. Make sure to thank your guest for their lovely comments for that personal touch. When reposting, use direct quotes if possible then tag and give photo credit to the Instagram user. Through social media, consumers are more likely to notice things like guest iPhone photos over professional photography.
Were you able to keep track of all of the innovations in hospitality technology that have been released over the past year?
If you did, give yourself a round of applause. Last year, there were more announcements regarding hotel technology development than we, here at INTELITY, have witnessed in a very long time.
INTELITY expects the industry to grow leaps and bounds in 2018 for guest engagement technology based on current hotel technology trends. More guests embraced technology in 2017 and they have now come to even expect and demand technology to be an integral part of their travel experiences.
“Today’s guests expect to be able to use their smartphones to do almost everything,” said George Corbin, senior vice president of digital, Marriott International. “They’re more mobile than ever and consider technology to be a central part of their lifestyle.”
Hotels constantly trying to improve their guests’ experience are now putting their money towards tech – by spending as much as 6% on of total revenue on technology, according to Hospitality Technology’s 2017 Lodging Technology Study. We should start to see some amazing technological updates become apart of the norm for guest experience in the coming years.
Here are our 2018 technology bets:
CONNECT | Mobile Messaging
Texting is the most widely and frequently done activity on a smartphone, with 97% of Americans texting at least once a day according to Pew Internet. Hotels are realizing the importance of messaging to build loyalty, increase guest engagement, and enhance the overall guest experience. Hotels now want to be where their guest is – in the palm of their hand.
We see hotels investing more time and resources into messaging guests – via SMS, branded apps or through social media messengers. Over the next few months, we expect to see more hotels offering guests the ability to text or message their staff directly, whether that be through their own proprietary apps, the use of third-party technologies, or through established messaging channels like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
Last year, INTELITY released its Messaging Solution, a unified messaging portal that provides hotels with a way to communicate with their guests through SMS and Facebook Messenger.
CONNECT | Mobile Key
Today, a growing number of hotels worldwide are already meeting guests’ expectations and demands using Mobile Key, a solution in the INTELITY Guest platform. Mobile Key works within the Mobile App solution and enables mobile check-in and mobile check-out, and keyless entry functionalities that today’s hoteliers are looking for and today’s guests are asking for.
Presented through a mobile app, guests can book a hotel, skip traditional front-desk check-in by checking-in remotely, and use the Bluetooth capabilities of their smartphone to unlock their hotel room door. 3 out of 4 consumers surveyed in the 2017 Customer Engagement Technology Study say they would like to use innovative and new technologies to interact with hotels and that it would positively impact their overall experience.
Hoteliers budgeting for a hypermobile, personalized engagement strategy in 2018 will find that Mobile Key equips them with the avenue to meet their guests’ expectations and demands while satisfying their staff needs.
ENGAGE | Voice Request
eMarketer projects that by 2019, there will be 52.8 million smart speaker users in the U.S. As homes become smarter, so will hotels. Hotels will start adopting this technology to allow guests to use voice commands to control room lights, room temperature, submit guest service requests and more. Many hotels are already taking the leap to include this technology in rooms: According to Bloomberg, Marriott International is testing iPads running Apple’s Siri and Amazon Echo’s in its Aloft hotel in Boston; Wynn Las Vegas plans to outfit more than 4,700 rooms with Amazon’s, artificially intelligent, voice-activated assistant, Alexa.
SERVICE | Enhanced Staff Software
Technology can play a huge part in maintaining a higher level of organization and accountability. The benefits of using software to help hotel staff run the hotel will become a huge asset in maintaining a seamless guest experience. By using INTELITY’s mobile version of INTELITY Staff, hotels can increase efficiency and improve their ability to track and deliver services to guest anywhere on their property, as well as, allowing guests to make requests that go directly to the appropriate department and staff member. Technology will become so standard that we wonder how hotels survived before.
It’s safe to say all these technologies will take the travel experience to a new level and give excitement to guests, driving loyalty, repeat business, and increased revenue.