In the hospitality industry, or any industry for that matter, success is driven by engaged employees, empowered with the right tools to act at the right time, in the right way, and improving customer satisfaction. Under promise and over deliver is the name of the game, and creating moments of surprise and delight keep guests coming back for more. Technology can help make this challenge easier, and gain more actionable insights that lead to life long customer relationships, as opposed to one-and-done customers, but it must be implemented correctly and we can't ever forget the basics.
Technology has made its way into many areas of our lives, including travel and hospitality. We have the ability to use technology both in the planning stages of travel and throughout our travel experience. While the days of calling your travel agent and having them make your travel arrangements for you are not yet gone, they are upon us. Almost 40% of all tour and activity bookings are being made online, and many of those online bookings—81% according to SaleCycle.com—are abandoned due to issues easily fixed, 22% alone due to technical issues of some sort; that's $132 Billion left on the table as a result of technical issues.
Why do People Abandon their Booking?
Mobile is quickly becoming the most ubiquitous form of computing, due in part because of the rise of easy to use tablets and smart phones. These devices have revolutionized the way we interact with technology and each other, and will continue to do so. In addition to the standard fare of getting around town and taking memorable pictures, our mobile devices can now act as a gateway for consumers, to engage and interact with a resort or property. Newer location based technology from VMob and Solomo use everything from iBeacons to GPS and NFC, to allow us to navigate our way through a crowded casino floor, get notified of happy hours happening in the bar right around the corner, and even allow a hotel to know when a guest has touched down at the airport in order to timely prepare their room or provide them a link to check-in on their mobile device. Digital kiosks, such as the iRiS Lobby can help supplement for a concierge, or provide guests from out of town information about the property and the surrounding area in their native language. I can now skip the front desk all together and check in on my mobile phone, provided the hotel has it available, and use that same device to open my door.
Internet of Things | IoT
The age of the Internet of Things is upon us, and everything from our thermostats to our luggage can now be considered smart. With the average guest taking 12 minutes to figure out how to change the temperature, turn the lights on and off, and figure out how to operate a TV with an interface from the 90s, it's high time hospitality companies embraced IoT. Smart room controls, like Evolve Guest Controls not only provide guests an easy to use interface for interacting with the room, but can spot problems before they happen. Staff can now receive notifications when light bulbs go out, or HVAC systems aren't working. As a guest, I can set my temperature preferences directly from my smart phone, turn my lights on and off or raise and lower the blinds. These preferences can all be stored, so the next time I check into the property, they know exactly what I want. Systems like Evolve can help create memorable guest experiences, while reducing costs at the same time.
With all of these advancements in consumer and enterprise technology I tend to walk into a hotel room and expect my experience to be completely personalized to me. With all of the data you would think an organization has on me at this point, it should be easy to know how many times I've stayed at any given property, or whether I like my room set at a constant 68° with my blinds down, and my lights at 50%. I think at this point they would know what TV channels I like, or shows I tend to watch, whether I like to bring my own content, or choose to watch what they provide; at the very least be able to get my name right when I call down to the front desk. I would think... But I would be wrong. Hotels have for ages relied upon a "Best of Breed" approach; choosing their favorite systems from different vendors and cobbling them together with different interfaces in what can best be described as a Frankenstein approach. We are slowly seeing the tide turn with products like Cenium's Hospitality ERP solution, Citizen M's approach, built by iReckon! and modeled after HTNG's open interface standard, or integrating hotel services into CRM offerings like that of Dynamics CRM from Microsoft. Offerings such as Cenium, allow a property, in real time, to see one view of their guest. It's these types of employee enablement tools that deliver the surprise and delight moments we tweet and share to our friends and family and help to create lifelong customer relationships.
On June 15th, Microsoft and Intel, through their partners Technovation Solutions, Teknikos, Evolve and iRiS unveiled the next step in the evolution of the connected customer journey at HITEC in Austin, TX. We now have a live version running in our centers demo environment. Join us to see how the art of what's possible can change the in-room guest experience. If you'd like to book a tour of the room, or explore any of the other partner technologies we have showcased year round, click the button below.