05 December, 2018
Technology for the guest experience of tomorrow
What does differentiation mean for your business? This is one of the most important topics hoteliers need to consider when planning for the future of their business. This year over 20,000 new hotel rooms will come onto the market - with a staggering near 15,000 of them in London.
With so much capacity out there, and more being added all the time, it’s essential that hoteliers know how to make sure their offering stands out from the crowd.
Technology can play a decisive role in how hotels create a unique guest experience. But it’s important to know what you want to achieve from technology, and where you want to apply it. When you mention technology in the context of hotels, there’s a temptation to think in terms of high-tech gadgets. Yes, you could spend a lot of money equipping rooms with Amazon Echos, digital entertainment centres or voice-activated electronic blinds. But this kind of futuristic equipment doesn’t look futuristic for long. Technology moves so fast it’s accelerating all the time: it’s a race, and most hoteliers – particularly those with smaller hotel chains and independents - won’t be able to keep up.
But the biggest drawback of focusing on gadgets is that hoteliers may overlook the one piece of technology that really matters to the guest: their smartphone.
Remote control for life
Today almost nine out of ten adults in the UK own a smartphone – and these are the most frequently-used devices in the country: 95% of UK adults say they have used their device in the last day. For most of us, the smartphone has become a “remote control for life” and our primary interface for all kinds of daily activities ranging from communication, entertainment, checking our bank balance and even controlling the central heating.
For hoteliers, the dominance of the smartphone in our lives offers a tremendous opportunity. It means the hotelier doesn’t have to focus on equipping guest rooms with expensive hardware: the guests bring the hardware themselves. Instead, when hoteliers think about technology and differentiation they should focus on software-as-a-service, using the smartphone as a platform to carry guest-facing applications.
There’s an app [lication] for that
Software-as-a-service works like the apps on your smartphone: by downloading the right apps you can turn your phone into a gaming device, a travel guide, a music player…The possibilities are almost endless. In the case of hotel technology, hoteliers can select the applications they need to create an improved and distinctive guest experience. Some of these software applications could be guest-facing: for example, a pre-check in feature that lets the guest customise the content of their minibar. Other software applications could sit in the background, for example hotel management applications that streamline housekeeping tasks, freeing hotel staff to focus on giving guests a personal service.
The software-as-a-service approach makes life easier for hoteliers who are rarely technologists and want to focus their energy and attention on the guest. These applications are typically hosted in the cloud, which means the service provider is responsible for keeping the software up to date.
Above all, the software-as-a-service approach is scalable. At Guestline, we know this is one of the key considerations for our hotel customers. And we know it’s true for the industry as a whole: we recently partnered with hospitality research specialists, h2c, to develop a global study on hoteliers’ technology priorities. This confirmed that hotels want the future to be flexible: “better integration” is their number one priority for future technology, while the inherently flexible cloud is their key driver for altering their hotel technology strategy.
Flexibility and freedom
Hoteliers want the option and freedom to tailor the experiences that work for their guests and allow their offer to stand out in an increasingly crowded accommodation marketplace. The software-based approach provides this flexibility and new guest experience applications come onto the market almost every week, giving hoteliers a vast and expanding set of options to choose from.
With so many possibilities, this is an exciting time to be in the hotel industry. But don’t get distracted by the gadgets and gimmicks. You can’t go too wrong if you focus on the flexible technology platforms that will make a real difference for your guests and the guest experience...
To find out how Guestline can enhance your guest experience click here