With The Right Hotel Technology, It’s So Much More

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Just today someone suggested to me that I take some time to watch the below video. I was encouraged by someone who is very important to me, yet sometimes struggles to understand what I actually do (That would be hotel technology consulting by the way!).

If you work in hospitality, or even better, hospitality and hotel technology, I encourage you to watch at least a minute or two before reading on.

So I watched it, and fifteen minutes later I’m here, writing as if I was compelled to do so!

The video is two and a half years old and is a TEDx talk by Bashar Wali. The focus of the video is exactly as stated above, the idea that hotels are much more than buildings.

His focus is on the idea that service is what makes the hotel, and I cannot argue with that point, service really IS what makes a hotel. As a frequent traveller, the little extras, that make my life easier, are what keeps me coming back to a certain brand or location.

So, I hear you ask, what is a video about Hospitality and Hotel Service doing on a blog post about Hotel Technology? Isn’t the whole idea of the talk to show that we need that personal touch to keep guest satisfaction high?

Absolutely, yes, but how do we enable that personalised service? That extra touch? How do we make sure we have the right people in the right place to deliver what is expected? I hope you are a step ahead of me here…… Technology.

Hotel Technology Is Replacing The Personal Touch

Robot check-in agents, voice-controlled rooms, digital compendiums, automated call agents, chatbots, it certainly has seemed that people were out and tech was in. But as Bashar alludes to in his video, the success of one of the biggest disruptors in the hospitality space, Airbnb, is based on the personal touch. No more faceless hotel chains, you are staying with a host. A host with a picture, a phone number, a host that you meet in person. Guess what? People love it.

If Technology Isn’t Replacing The Personal Touch, Why Do I Need It?

Technology is an enabler. Communication, data storage, mobility, all based on technology. In Hospitality, specifically Hotels, technology is complimentary. I love to see a high tech hotel, but this isn’t for everyone. Want to roll out digital assistants in the rooms? Ok, but what will be the result when people use it? Remove paper documents and put the content on the IPTV system? Sure, but you better be able to back it up with service.

I’ve taken immense pride in designing technology systems over the years, systems that integrate solutions and offer cutting edge technologies to the Guest, at the heart of all of these though? Service.

Let’s unleash the full potential of Hotel technology, and unleash in this sense, means take it far enough and stop. Let’s keep it as an enabler, but my goodness lets make it the best enabler it can be. Nothing will replace a cheery front of house agent on the end of the phone, especially if they are taking a booking for the restaurant, that you know you’ll enjoy as you’ve already read the menu. On the TV. Harmony.

What about those check-in terminals or robot check-in agents? Have them, roll them out, but take a leaf out of the book of the superstores, and have an agent ready to support. Know your guest, and give them the technology that they want, but don’t force them into using it.

So, the idea we can let a guest know what time their favourite programme is on. Well, Bashar explains exactly how to do it, a quick look at facebook, and a handwritten note. Perfect. No technology required here then.

Apart from the TV, which of course has all the channels you need, and the device which you checked facebook via, and the Wifi to which the device was connected, and the data line. See my point? Complimentary.

Interestingly though, this point is almost moot now, as everyone streams now and no one watches linear TV right? Be very careful.

Technology isn’t for geeks anymore, it’s for everyone, but not everyone uses it in the same way. While Hotels attempt to capture a bigger market share they must cater to Millennials, X’s and Boomers while considering what the Z’s might want in years to come.

It’s impossible to please all with one solution, so have that happy face ready, and see your guests return.

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