Do you remember the first hotel you stayed at, let’s say 10 years back? There was a curious looking chap at the front desk who fumbled for keys when you asked for a room. He looked at you to just make sure you are human and then after the interrogation that probably lasted for a few seconds, you got a room that had a bed, a study table and a bathroom. If you are lucky, may be even a TV!
We have traveled a long way from there to the hotels of today. Hospitality industry thrives on customer satisfaction. With something new happening every hour in this industry, what are the strategies adopted by hotels to acquire, engage and retain guests?
- Voice activated-room: Doesn’t it hurt real bad when one has crashed into the bed after a hard day’s work but forgot to switch off the lights? It could be the toilet tap on or even the temperature difference of AC. So now, what if you can just sit on your bed, be as lazy as you want and manage to control all the room systems? With the voice-activated room technology, you could dim the lights, control your AC and even give order to the housekeeping and pantry.
- Keyless entry: Won’t it be wonderful to not stand in the queue to get your room key? Who wouldn’t want to just open the door keyless, using your smartphone as one walks into the hotel? Radio Frequency Identification Data (RFID) technology helps in replacing keys with wrist bands, smartphones and more. Hotels like the Grand Hyatt San Francisco are experimenting with Wi-Fi enabled airport shuttles that allow you to print keys en-route using the Hyatt app.
- Mobile marketing and mobile ecommerce at centre stage: According to a research by emarketer, 51.8% of people who booked rooms through digital means booked it via mobile. The number had risen from a 43.8% last year. This clearly states that mobile marketing is the key. A good responsive design and one-click technology are vital in mobile ecommerce sites.
- Virtual Reality: Have you heard about the Shangri La hotels transporting clients to various locations through the use of Samsung gear VR headsets? Marriot has launched a VRoom Service which can be used to order VR headsets that will help you decide travel plans based on the experiences created.
- Robot customer service: The Crowne Plaza San Jose-Silicon Valley in Milpitas, the Grand Hotel in Sunnyvale, the Aloft Silicon Valley in Newark, the Aloft Cupertino in Cupertino and the Holiday Inn Express in Redwood City have one thing in common. Here robots play the role of serving you, automation at its best in the hospitality industry. So next time you need a toothpaste or a towel or even a soap, you will be surprised to see a cute little robot bringing it for you.
- Digitized meeting spaces/conference hall: A ground breaking innovation in this field was the Meeting Services App from Marriot group of hotels. With this app one can manage the event using planners and hotel teams from remote locations. These smart connected meeting spaces will serve as offices for business travelers.
The list goes on. Hope you have read about the cute little robot in Aloft Cupertino in Central California. The 3ft tall robot gets you everything from toothbrush to snacks and chargers. Named Botlr, the robot communicates through touch screen. So if you are bored of interacting with humans, this will be a great change of pace.
The hospitality industry is open to new ideas and technology that will help acquire and engage customers. We will wait and see for more of these.
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