February 2018, Miami
Transforming the guest experience with tech
Apps, chatbots, RFID, in-room devices, and the Internet of Things all can help to improve guest satisfaction but there is a fine line to walk
Hotels often feel held hostage by TripAdvisor reviews, but property apps, digital concierges and more are helping hotels reach the guest and react far better to their needs, finds a recent report from EyeforTravel. Hotels can now monitor and track guests around their properties using installed apps that can access the guest’s location or Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tied to keycards. They can then log every guest request through AI-driven concierges operating through chatbots or smart speakers. This means that the guest no longer needs to ring down to front desk. The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), which can be controlled either from a single device in the guest’s room or from an app, means the hotel can now know the guest’s preferred room temperature, what entertainment they watch, and when items need to be replaced.
Armed with this technology, hotels can personalise down to an individual level for guests they already know. They can also use aggregated data to predict what they should recommend to new guests. Services are even springing up that amalgamate data from many different hotels. By using data from similar properties, hotels can identify patterns in guest behaviour and make recommendations for additional services during the guest’s stay. In this way, hotels can increase customer satisfaction and drive entirely new revenue streams.
The best time to receive guest feedback is while the guest is still on the property
The best time to receive guest feedback is while the guest is still on the property, so the ability to react in a smarter and faster way to guests will also help to increase those all-important review scores. Hotel platforms and apps make it easier for guests to instantly message any issues to the property. Being able to fix an issue before it escalates into a complaint is vital in today’s world of online review sites and digital endorsements.
Following up with a bottle of champagne delivered to the room, or a free dinner, can make a guest less likely to vent on TripAdvisor, or even better, turn the complaint into a compliment with a post about the fantastic service provided by the hotel. This has a demonstrable effect on the bottom line, with increased review scores tied to better performing hotels with higher revenues, according to more than one study.
Turn the complaint into a compliment
However, with this, power hotels will also need to strike the right balance between helping their guests and becoming overbearing. “Learning what a customer orders, be it craft beer or a double-shot espresso, is a benefit. Offering specials that walk that line are okay, but to cross it requires consent from the client,” says Jeffrey Parker, Vice President of Hospitality Systems, Red Lion Hotels Corporation. “If Joe Smith tells us he wants Jack Daniels and a double-cheese burger in his room with every stay, we need to act on that. If he always orders a cheese burger, we should suggest that.”
The hotels that master guest communications and services using smart technologies in a way that is appropriate for their clientele will be the ones that thrive in the increasingly competitive accommodation market.