Upon entering the suite with the swipe of a smartphone, a handmade wooden box of your favorite spicy Chai tea beckons from the mini-bar. The room is cooled to perfection, precisely preset to the temperature requested when you booked it online from your smart watch.
The scene glimpses the start of an imagined visit to the kind of hotel that’s working to woo today’s modern guest, one who values an in-stay visit that’s personalized for them. Hotels and resorts are moving to custom-design the hospitality experience with technology aimed at anticipating the needs of digitally connected consumers in a bid to take convenience, comfort and personalization to new heights, according to Zebra’s Global Hospitality Vision Study.
The study measured how hotel/resort senior executives, IT leaders, guest services and marketing respondents surveyed view guests needs, their strategic technology and service plans and their vision for the future.
For hoteliers that want to stay in the game, one-size-fits all hospitality stays are a thing of the past. The industry is being shaken up by the rise of vacation rental sites (think Airbnb) and boutique hotels serving up unique, bespoke experiences that are redefining notions of leisure and business travel.
The Personal (Tech-Enabled) Touch
Hoteliers know that one key path to a guest’s heart — and loyalty sweet spot — is through their digital devices.
Indeed, 66% of guests surveyed said they have a better experience when associates use the latest technology.
That’s not lost on hospitality managers, who are building convenience into the hotel/resort experience via guests’ smartphones and tablets, the survey revealed.
A hefty 74% of hotels and resorts are planning to implement location-based technologies, such as enabling smartphone check-in and tracking guests’ location facilities uses and preferences, within a year.
Hotels and resorts are also betting on technology to automate personalized guest experiences, like pre-setting the room temperature to a warmer setting for that perennially chilly traveler.
Their goal is to sharpen guest recognition to deliver highly personalized, geo-targeted promotions, mobile offers and messages, like a text alert to a gluten-sensitive guest about the chickpea flour pancakes on the hotel restaurant’s brunch menu.
At the same time, winning the loyalty of today’s travelers has prompted hotels to redefine their own definition of loyalty. That’s not to say that perks like coupons, discounts, and earning free room stays via loyalty cards are going out of style - guests still crave those -and the hospitality industry will continue to oblige.
But consumers are spending less on tangible things like that hot new designer bag, in favor of lived experiences, be it a restaurant meal or vacation. And more and more, they want those experiences, including their hotel stays, to be unique.
The shift has hospitality managers wooing guests with loyalty perks like cooking classes, personalized in-room exercise equipment, and even nearby travel adventures — private surf lesson on the Gold Coast of Australia, anyone?
Unpack these insights by downloading Zebra’s “High Tech For High Touch 2016 Hospitality Vision Study.”