There’s a saying that reads, “Innovation is seeing what everyone has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.”
Over the last few decades, we’ve witnessed an incredible burst of innovation. The era of Blockbuster and DVDs gave way to a media landscape ruled by streaming services like Netflix and Crave TV. The era of taxis was disrupted by the rise of ride-share services like Uber and Lyft. Personal assistants no longer need to be human; rather, they’re accessible to all of us, via a small AI-powered device like Alexa or Google Mini. Long waiting periods for shipped goods are nearly a forgotten concept, with same-day delivery now a commonly utilized convenience offered by Amazon.
In the realm of hospitality, we’ve experienced a similar trajectory. Feeling the influence of technological advances breaking ground across industries, we’ve been able to give an incredible, well-deserved makeover to the guest experience and group booking process. From pre-stay to post-stay, hospitality continues to find new ways to reimagine the guest experience.
The Problem with a Traditional Hotel Lobby for Guests & Groups
With this in mind, let’s direct our attention to one of the foremost staples of the hospitality experience — the lobby.
If I asked you to imagine a hotel lobby, what do you see? You might picture a sprawling room with glossy countertops, a central fountain and lounge area, a sleek bar, and a front desk stretched across the centerfold? Behind that desk, do you imagine being greeted by the smiling faces of front desk staff and a hotel concierge, eager to check you in and attend to your requests? If anything, this is the hotel lobby as we’ve always known it.
But what if we told you that today’s most innovative lobbies look entirely different?
Hotel lobbies are almost always associated with a large granite front desk, but few people question why that imposing, inflexible feature has to be there in the first place. Traditionally, a front desk was “needed” to facilitate check-ins, but this antiquated model created long lines for travelers, and prevented hotel staff from freely interacting with guests.
This outdated approach becomes especially problematic in the case of group bookings. Group bookings (events, small groups and meetings, etc.) represent a critical revenue pillar for any hotel; in fact, the 2020 Global Meetings Forecast showed growth in all meeting types, indicating that events and meetings are a critical driver of communications, growth, and engagement for organizations globally. This represents enormous potential for the hospitality industry: Recent reports reveal that 49% of businesses are spending 21% or more of their total events budget on hosting events, while 30% of businesses are spending 21% or more of their total events budget on sponsoring and exhibiting at events.
That being said, event planners and corporate groups demonstrate a preference for those hotel venues which are modern, frictionless, mobile-centric and equipped to provide uninterrupted, personalized service. As you might imagine, a traditional lobby that often leaves guests waiting as a result of long lines and service delays represents a troublesome hindrance.
Can modern technology provide a faster, more personalized way to check-in guests than the traditional front desk? And, how can hotels provide their guests with the latest technology…right when they first enter the lobby?
The Power of a Mobile PMS and POS
Fortunately for hoteliers, the answer is simple. Utilizing a mobile PMS and POS, hotels can effectively turn the front desk into an “option,” rather than a “necessary evil.” Additionally, an integrated, mobile PMS and POS system can inspire a more agile service model by streamlining a property’s front-of-house, sales, administrative, and payment processes. Because they are freed from the confines of the front desk, staff can greet guests, handle requests, and process payments for goods and services on the go.
As you might imagine, within this era of personalization and enhanced convenience, a service provider’s ability to be agile and responsive is more important than ever before. Let’s consider the following trends:
– 60% of consumers are more likely to choose a smartphone-enabled hotel. Travelers also admit wanting a mobile experience that is built around their desire to communicate on their terms
– 90% of millennials said they would be interested in checking-in in a hotel through their mobile phones to skip slow service and long lines
– 62% of consumers are in favor of using self-serve technologies like kiosks, digital signage and self-checkout to improve in-store experience, with 78% in favor of giving technology to sales associates to improve their experience
– 76% of consumers say they view customer service as the true test of how much a brand values them3
There is no denying it, mobile devices have become a critical tool on both sides of the service equation, for guests, groups, events and staff. A mobile-optimized hotel is simply better equipped to meet modern guest expectations, while also empowering staff to take a more personalized and attentive approach to service. With a mobile hotel PMS and POS system in place, hoteliers have access to all information and tools they need within one centralized system, delivered via a handheld device or tablet. Integral guest information, reminders, cross-department communications, upsell/upgrade prompts, actionable insights, and more are provided to staff at a glance, wherever they are on property, 24/7.
Finally freed from behind the front desk, staff are able to walk the lobby and engage with transient guests and group guests or attendees where they are, servicing their needs in real-time.
The Hotel Lobby of the Future is Here
The hotel lobby of the future will still represent a central meeting place, a critical hub of the hotel that inspires lasting impressions on guests, but now there are far more possibilities.
In a 2017 article, Noah Silverman, Marriott International’s chief development officer for full-service hotels in North America, explained that “although hotel lobbies, in particular, have long been ‘pass-through spaces’ that resemble ‘bowling alleys of marble,’ today’s hotels are almost as likely to offer up an actual bowling alley. Hospitality giants like Marriott and Hilton, along with their independent competitors, are ditching room service or other in-room amenities in favor of bright, airy lobbies; communal areas with sweeping views; and bountiful pod seats—all in the hopes of attracting younger, more sociable travelers.”
This momentum may have started in 2017, but now it’s reached full speed. Hotels around the globe are shifting away from the traditional model to create unique, congregational lobby and meeting spaces that are memorable and share-worthy. From art installations to wine bars, co-working and event spaces, coffee bars, and more, hotels utilizing a mobile PMS and POS can truly reinvent one of the most central, and potentially memorable components of their property. As an added benefit, even if someone isn’t staying at a particular hotel, they can still spend money in public dining or co-working spaces. Not only that, but compelling common areas with unique features help to accentuate a hotel’s appeal in the group booking space, creating even more revenue opportunities across the season.
One of our StayNTouch clients in Amsterdam has used Rover PMS to create a property that boasts the combined appeal of a hotel, and an extended stay location. By freeing up the lobby from the traditional front desk, they’ve been able to create a very ‘communal living’ experience that looks like a greenhouse and offers guests a light, warm, and inviting space that is equal parts welcoming and memorable.
Ultimately, a fresh take on the hotel lobby, with the help of a mobile PMS and POS, provides hoteliers the potential to “wow” guests, increase revenue, and increase group bookings in equal, promising measures. First impressions are everything, and you can’t promote a unique and innovative brand, with a traditional and generic lobby. It’s time to embrace the hotel lobby of the future.
About the Author
Nicole Dehler, Vice President of Product Management
StayNTouch, A Shiji Group Brand
Nicole spent more than 12 years in the Regional Divisions of MICROS Systems, divided between Product and Project Management of Property, Sales Force and Central Reservations Systems. She led the Enterprise Team in Asia Pacific as Director of Operations, looking after large scale software implementations as well as managing the regional launch of E-Commerce products and Smartphone applications. Nicole joined StayNTouch in early 2013, spearheading the PMS development, strategy, innovation and growth from the very beginning.
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