Guests don’t just want the usual benefits during their stay. They have begun to actively voice a desire for investment in hotel technology that supports a high-tech, high-touch hotel experience.
Knowing what today’s hotel guests want is not a guessing game at this point. They’re clearly saying, “We want more hotel technology!” Don’t believe it? A recent survey of travelers by Oracle and Phocuswright revealed that two-thirds said investment in hotel technology that enhances the guest experience is “very or extremely important.”
This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who’s been keeping an eye on travel trends over the past decade.
64% of Hotel Guests: Investment in Hotel Technology is “Very or Extremely Important”
Technology plays a heavy role in the travel experience from beginning to end.
For instance, travelers rely heavily on using various mobile devices for research and trip planning. Online searches provide a ton of valuable information, and social media and online reviews are now considered the first go-to for most people looking for authentic feedback about not only hotels but details about destinations as a whole. After a stay, half of all guests post about their hotel stay experience on social media as well.
And, of course, the utility of technology, and mobile technology, in particular, extends to during the hotel stay as well.
Nine in 10 business travelers and 8 in 10 leisure travelers value use of smartphones to request hotel services or communicate with staff.
Other key findings from the report about the ways guests want to use smartphones to interact with hotels:
A third of guests are interested in using a complimentary hotel tablet provided in guest rooms
Forty-one percent of guests want a message to their smartphone when their guest room is ready
About 21 percent of guests want the ability to stream content onto the in-room TV
Hotel guests are leaning toward more independence as opposed to the traditional hotel experience where the staff is very visible throughout the entire stay. Guest preference is for staff to maintain a constant digital presence, where they can be conveniently contacted if needed or serve as a virtual concierge with suggestions and information to help guests make the most of their time at a destination.
More than 60 percent of guests currently go to sources other than a hotel concierge for suggestions about how to improve the guest experience, but surveys such as these reveal that hotels could reach and serve more hotel guests if they expanded to include a virtual concierge and digital guest services for better communication and messaging with guests.
With the hotel technology trend of BYOD among hotel guests and staff on the rise, the hospitality industry is finding that mobile device management (MDM) for hotels is a necessary investment.
More than half of your guests will carry 3 or more devices with them when they come for a stay, and you can bet that all your employees are also equipped with a variety of devices, from smartphones to laptops.
We’ve entered an age of mobile hospitality, and all hoteliers must now be nimble enough to meet guests where they’re at: on devices that are capable of keeping them connected and informed anywhere in the world.
These mobile devices enable guests to manage the full, end-to-end travel experience, from the research phase to booking to the actual hotel stay. Features such as mobile key, mobile hotel check-in, digital maps, virtual concierge, and social media access have all made smartphones and in-room tablets invaluable to guests, while enterprise features such as digital guest request management and data views from integrated hotel systems have created demand for new hospitality technology among hotel staff as well.
All these devices have created new demands for connected “smart hotels” that provide sufficient hotel networks, WiFi and security for all on premises.
It’s one of the leading hotel technology trends and promises to assist hoteliers in staying on top of hotel guest and staff BYOD.
Some of the MDM features for hotels that could improve the mobile hotel guest and staff experience include:
Device and platform detection
Policy compliance monitoring
Mobile app management and permission setting
Remote software updates
Remote wiping of device data
Remote device locking
In the second part of our series on Mobile Device Management for Hotels and Hospitality, we’ll go into specific benefits that can be realized through the use of an MDM solution.
For more information on how hotel technology trends like MDM can give you a competitive edge when it comes to improving the guest experience, schedule a demo with our industry experts.
Hotel staff is able to leverage hotel in-room tablet technology to improve service and increase hotel revenue.
Adoption of touchscreen tablets in restaurants has increased over the past few years as reports are released supporting their usefulness in improving business and making customers happy. Numerous chains have been so impressed by pilot runs with restaurant tablets that they’ve expanded the food and beverage technology into hundreds of locations.
But these benefits are not just for kiosks and tablets in restaurants. Hotels have been able to translate the same principles to leverage in-room tablets for hotels and kiosks for a wide array of competitive advantages. Here are a few of the proven results possible from the installation of hotel guest room tablets.
Increased Hotel Revenue
The general numbers don’t lie. The ease of use provided to customers by hotel tablets when it comes to completing tasks like reviewing menu items and placing orders, whether in the guest room or dining at the hotel restaurant, promotes better sales. Studies show the user experience of tablets causes higher sales conversions, more so than on desktop computers, laptops or even smartphones. Businesses using tablets for ordering have reported higher average check amounts and a 15-percent increase in tips.
Improved Hotel Marketing & Upsell Opportunities
Hotel tablets allow for the presentation of full menus with visuals that can be accessed in only one or two taps of a finger. Guests are able to scroll through numerous items with automatic electronic prompts to add on. A guest ordering an in-room dining meal might be encouraged to add a bottle of wine or fitting side to order before submission. One chain was able to increase the sale of appetizers and desserts by 20 percent thanks to the use of tablets for ordering meals.
Enhanced Hotel In-Room Entertainment
The state of hotel room entertainment has shifted in recent years due to hotel technology trends, such as mobile device use by guests for streaming content and announcements of hotel brand partnerships with modern media companies like Netflix.
Hotel in-room tablets can add to the hotel in-room entertainment experience by providing guests with another means of control and personalization of the guest experience. Tablets can be used to stream movies in the hotel room, play games, read digital newspapers and magazines, or browse the Internet. Reports are that at least 1 in 10 tables opts to order premium content such as unlimited games on touchscreen tablets when available, which shows further potential for expanded revenue intake for the hotel.
More Efficient Staff Operations
Tablets are being implemented in the hospitality industry at large, and one of the major draws is the improved operational efficiency. Hospitality tablets are able to “[expedite] the whole process [of food ordering]” as well as “[cut] down on labor costs.”
For instance, hotel tablets running on the INTELITY hospitality technology platform are able to electronically send all tickets to appropriate departments, which can then be managed and tracked to fulfillment through a single back-end portal. Hotel managers are able to review service performance and make changes as necessary to improve speed and efficiency.
Are hospitality technology trends innovating hotel rooms quickly enough to maintain guest satisfaction at peak levels?
Mobile hotel technology is a hot topic when it comes to hospitality technology trends and the future of the industry. Report after report has established that hotel guests love mobile devices for engagement and guest service, such as through a virtual hotel concierge.
Travelers now carry more mobile devices than ever (three to four on average for business travelers). And 60 percent of general global travelers say they wouldn’t vacation at all without a mobile device, while nearly 4 in 10 say they’re more dependent on mobile devices when on vacation than at home.
Mobile devices are more important to your hotel guests than anything else in their suitcase, according to new surveys. Items that ranked below or equal to mobile devices in importance:
What about the Millennials in your hotel? Mobile phones not only ranked above these items for the majority of them but also toothbrushes and the Internet. Mobile technology is so vital to your hotel guests that nearly half in any age demographic would reportedly give up alcohol to recover a smartphone that was taken away.
With information like this, why is it that some hotels offer toothbrushes and toothpaste but still haven’t invested in fully incorporating mobile technology into the hotel guest experience?
It’s been about a decade since the first iPhone was released. The time for hotels to embrace mobile technology is now.
New mobile hotel technology, such as hotel in-room tablets and hotel apps, are more readily available than ever. And the potential ROI of mobile technology in hotels far outweighs the initial investment required.
Hotel guests are already showing a strong positive response to new mobile hotel technology, including both hotel apps and hotel in-room tablets.
The Crawford Hotel in Denver, Colorado, placed hotel tablets in all of its 112 guest rooms and also made a hotel app available for download to guests’ personal devices. Guests are able to use this hotel technology to send requests with the hotel staff, look up information, stream music, and read digital newspapers and magazines in the hotel rooms.
A year after opening, the hotel reported a positive impact on both guest engagement and communication with hotel staff. More than 3,000 total guest requests were sent via personal mobile devices, mainly smartphones, to the front desk and 41 percent of the hotel’s bookings were mobile.
The hotel aims to stay on the leading edge of hospitality technology trends by adopting mobile key sometime soon to expedite the guest check-in process and improve guest satisfaction even further.
It’s a fact. Guests love mobile hotel technology. So instead of offering your guests toothbrushes, consider offering them what they’ve shown they really want: mobile engagement.
Why Pokémon Go could mean the future of augmented and virtual reality in hotels is a promising one.
You’re a rarity if you haven’t yet fallen prey to the addictiveness of the new Pokémon Go app or heard about its effects on the world around you.
The concept behind Pokémon, a media franchise that was created in 1995, is fairly simple. There are creatures in the world called Pokémon that people, called “Trainers,” try to catch. The Pokémon Go app is a game that allows app users to become Trainers and find Pokémon in locations all around them using augmented reality (AR). Their smartphones provide information to the app about the user’s geography, including location and time, which impacts gameplay.
The augmented reality app was released on Android and iPhone in limited countries by The Pokémon Company, (partially owned by Nintendo) and developer Niantic on July 6, and within 5 days it had been downloaded more than 7.5 million times. That’s more than popular dating app Tinder and nearly more than social media platform Twitter. More average time is spent on Pokémon Go than is spent on several other leading mobile apps, including WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook.
Not only did people download it, but early figures are also showing the app has strong user retention (a modern marvel when one in four users abandon an app after only one use). More than 60 percent of people who have downloaded the app in the U.S. use it on a daily basis.
It’s become more than a game for many people. It’s an obsession.
And more than that, it shows just how popular the new technology trend of augmented reality, or if you take it a step further, virtual reality, could become in the near future.
Augmented reality is the mixing of a fabricated, digital world and reality. Unlike virtual reality, which immerses the user completely in a 3-D digital world through the use of hardware such as a headset, augmented reality adds such elements into the real world. For example, with Pokémon Go, users “see” Pokémon around them through their smartphone screen.
Both augmented and virtual reality technology are seen as up-and-coming game changers, and leading technology companies are investing in both, including Facebook, Google, Apple, and Samsung.
Virtual reality in hotels is not a completely new concept either. So far, the application of virtual reality in hospitality has primarily been for the purpose of showcasing guest rooms and other areas of properties to travelers before they arrive.
For instance, the Best Western Virtual Reality Experience provides 360-degree VR views through hardware such as Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear VR. The hotel brand virtual reality feature was created by utilizing 1.7 million property photos and Google Street View.
In an article, Best Western CMO Dorothy Dowling said, “To go that next step before they go, and actually map out a lot of those things in their mind before they arrive, I think is going to be transformative for the business.”
Other hospitality brands with virtual reality projects available include Starwood, Marriott, Shangri-La Hotels, Carlson Rezidor and Holiday Inn Express.
“Shangri-La is investing significantly in technology and the future of travel content, which is why we are embracing virtual reality on this scale…VR is a revolutionary new sales tool. The technology has evolved so that it is now affordable, light and portable.”
As part of its Travel Brilliantly campaign, Marriott went a step further than virtual reality hotel tours to offer travelers the opportunity to view VR postcards of stories and experiences around the world on Samsung virtual reality hardware.
But the uses of augmented and virtual reality in hotels has great potential for expansion.
Imagine having relaxation sessions added to the list of services available at the spa, where guests could choose to be virtually immersed in a new environment, such as a beach or a hot spring, during a treatment. Or virtual reality fitness classes that guests could watch and participate in from the comfort of their hotel room.
Virtual reality in hotel rooms could mean expanded hotel in-room entertainment options, with guests able to actually feel like they’re part of movies, shows or games rather than just watching on a 2-D hotel TV.
Hotels could also allow guests to use augmented or virtual reality in guest rooms to browse items they’d like to purchase, whether in-room dining items or gift shop souvenirs, before placing orders. The items could appear virtually to the guests using various hardware or even smartphones (similar to how Pokémon “appear” on smartphones using augmented reality) to give them a 3-D, realistic shopping experience in their hotel room without having to go to a different location.
The rise of Pokémon Go could just be the fad of the moment, but it could also foreshadow a future of augmented or virtual reality as mainstream technologies. If AR and VR technology continue to rise in popularity, especially as developers find other creative applications beyond games, they could become commonplace elements within society, in the same way, that smartphones and mobile technology have.
And once that happens, hotels will have to embrace this innovation, as with any other technology that travelers come to expect as part of their daily lives. Augmented and virtual reality technology in hotel rooms as a standard could be just around the corner.
Image courtesy of Twitter account @HyattRegencySA.
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