Within the Hospitality Industry there is rightly a lot of focus on the pre-travel experience because that is when potential guests choose where to stay. There is also a focus on the post-travel experience to curate positive reviews that help drive new and repeat business.
On site, there is a lot of technology to improve the check-in and check-out process and a plethora of technology ready to enhance the in-room experience.
But when I am on vacation with my family, my focus as a guest isn’t the check-in or check-out and it isn’t in-room technology either. That’s because 90% of my waking hours on vacation are spent outside my room.
So why is there so much focus on the check-in/out process and the in-room technology if guests spend most of their time elsewhere?
Recently I was at a 5-star hotel that had a notice telling guests there was a 15-minute wait at breakfast at peak times. I assumed it was due to numbers and lack of space in the restaurant. It wasn’t. It was simply down to the fact they required guests to write their full names, the date and their room number on pieces of paper. A clear example of a hotel prioritising inefficient admin over the needs of their guests.
Reading reviews of airline business class travel, it is quite interesting to see that a key differentiator is a simple one. The most positive reviews seem to be for those airlines that welcome their passengers by name. Hotels obviously know the names of their guests, so why can’t they welcome guests by name as they enter restaurants, bars or other locations?
Similarly, wouldn’t it be nice to recognise travellers with specific dietary requirements instantly and offer them the right menu without the guests having to ask?
A lot of hotels offer mobile apps these days, but these are for convenience and information. They don’t really help with the guest experience simply because if I’m looking at my phone, I’m not ‘experiencing’ the location.
So, is there a disconnect between what hotels already know about their guests and how they use that information when their guests are not in their room or at the front desk?
Technology does exist to help with all of this and apart from making a good impression with guests, it makes good business sense as well.
Suddenly guest flow data is available, peak times become known and dwell times established. Hotels can see heat maps and can see when and where they need to deploy resources. They can make their installations more efficient, offer personalisation at scale and guests feel like they are receiving preferential treatment. Predictive analytics can create valuable insights allowing hotels to adapt to guests, whilst at the same time improving the guest experience of course.
With so much information and technology available, it is surely the hotels that have the greatest understanding of their guests and the tools to access and use that knowledge that will have the brightest futures.
In short, guests should not have to adapt to hotels, it is the hotels that should adapt to their guests. This personalisation at scale is not only possible, it is imperative to future-proof hotels and make them truly customer-centric.
About the author
Joe Buckhurst has over 25 years’ experience creating, developing and installing guest engagement solutions at venues all over the world. As Managing Director of Guestband, he is passionate about identifying ways of improving the guest experience and helping resorts and parks to provide a personalised experience at scale. Rather than a consultant, he identifies himself as a catalyst in the process of improving the guest experience.
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