Welcome to Tomorrow’s Hotel, Today
As traveler Mr. Joe “Smart” steps into the lobby, cameras scan his face and the automated reception system checks him in. The AI concierge assigns him a room that match his preferences - a double bed with an ocean view and continental breakfast. He is presented with a courtesy smartphone that can be used as a digital room key and remote control for everything in his room. At the end of his stay, check out is as simple as walking out of the hotel.
This may sound futuristic but most of this is already happening in hotels around the world. The advent of new technologies is driving the hospitality industry towards providing smarter and super-personalized guest experiences. As travelers become savvier with which hotels they choose to stay, hotels are turning to technology to enhance their offerings and raise their level of service.
Data knows best: The smart way to make a room
Customer retention has always been a priority for hotels knowing that guests only return if they feel that their needs were properly met. Technological innovations now allow hotels to gather data when guests use their facilities and services. They then use them to hyper-personalize guest experiences.
Establishments that are ahead of the curve already offer smart hotel technological conveniences through smartphone apps such as reservations, semi-automated check-ins, check-outs, and even robo-butlers to deliver towels and other amenities on demand. As smart hotel technologies continue to improve, guest satisfactions, convenience and overall efficiencies should commensurately increase.
For example, a luxury boutique hotel THE PLAZA in Seoul replaced the venerable in-room telephone with handy, a hospitality smartphone that guests can use throughout their stay. In addition to providing guests with free telephone and internet services, the device can also control in-room features like lights, thermostats, and TVs. Guests can also use the device to receive concierge services 24/7.
It’s good business
The real reason behind the industry’s eagerness to adopt the latest technology lies in the economic benefits that it brings.
Hotels already use digital devices to track guests’ behavior to gain insight into how to best serve each guest’s specific needs without having to ask. Tech savvy hotels go one step further by using this information to guide guests towards various touch points during their stays. They use “thick data” - a quantitative analysis of big data - to intelligently predict what each guest will prefer, and use in-room devices to directly interact with guests both on and off premises.
This allows hotels to not only personalize guests’ experiences throughout their stays but also upsell their products and services such as food & beverage, spa, wellness, and souvenirs. What is truly amazing is that hotels can be graceful and even natural in their approach to upsell their products and services. Product and service offerings can all be based on past interests, use or purchase behavior.
The smarter hotel for the future
Like any industry in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution, smart hotels are likely to become even more automated as the human assistance diminishes. Maturing technologies in AI, facial recognition, and near field communication (NFC) will make the guest experience even more seamless and efficient. Everything from guests’ entertainment preferences, favorite minibar drinks and snacks to room temperatures can be customized to individual preferences.
With the ability to analyze guest data at a granular level, hotels can determine the exact preferences of every repeat guest and make the necessary changes to their accommodations. And accurately anticipating guests’ needs will go a long way towards getting them to keep coming back and even spending more.
The end goal is to increase the convenience for hotel guests and keep them from having to inform hotels of their needs, let alone even think about them. They’ll be able to simply sit back, relax and enjoy themselves.
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