When it comes to providing the ideal guest experience, a surprise is usually a negative. It’s arriving at the hotel and discovering your room isn’t ready. It’s learning that the designated check-out time doesn’t align with your return flight home. It’s discovering that certain amenities like the continental breakfast or gym access have not been reintroduced since COVID-19.
As consumers feel more comfortable to travel as we emerge from the pandemic, those once-familiar experiences may be filled with new uncertainties. Because of this, the key to truly delighting eager-to-travel guests will be delivering consistently at every interaction.
The hospitality industry will have to scale up quickly to deliver on what travelers require, with expectations from both previous trips and new safety demands. For hoteliers, this is a tall ask, with many facing staffing shortages and residual financial challenges from travel restrictions. This reality makes it even more imperative that the industry consider how technology can alleviate resourcing issues while providing an enjoyable travel experience.
Create an App for That
Despite the challenges, automation can provide the reliability customers crave. Hoteliers can lean into digital channels or platforms to deliver a seamless and consistent experience. For example, an app or website can serve as a “single source of truth,” where guests can get real-time updates on service, safety procedures, and any other changes to their stay. On the business side, opting to automate manual tasks can save time and reduce stress on overworked employees, and help hotels save their bottom line. A digital-first approach to hospitality can elevate customer experiences and bolster a hotel’s brand.
As consumers become increasingly more comfortable with ordering groceries online, banking via secure mobile apps, and showing tickets on their smartphones, hotels have an opportunity to provide the ease-of-use travelers and shoppers alike are demanding. In fact, a recent study conducted by Anyline found that a majority (56.7%) of travelers would prefer to check-in using a hotel or property mobile application on their smartphone, as opposed to checking in at the front desk with an agent (27.6%) or checking-in at an unmanned kiosk (16.2%).
But where do you start? What kinds of capabilities should the app have to incentivize guests to download? And how would this differentiate your hotel from a competitor? It all comes down to three things: control, efficiency, and personalization.
Provide a Sense of Control
From the same survey, it’s clear that travelers are open to using an app, but only if it’s multi-functional and safe to use. Of the 500 participants in Anyline’s survey, 77% would be more likely to download a hotel’s app if it allowed them to “manage the entire stay, including contactless check-in and check-out, via their mobile device.”
Customers can find comfort in knowing they have any-time access to up-to-date information on anything relating to their stay, virtually eliminating unwanted surprises. For customers worried about another app having access to their data, such as their vacation whereabouts and credit card information, hoteliers can integrate face authentication and liveness detection into the app or website login to eliminate friction and increase security.
Commit to Efficiency
According to SaleCycle, prospective hotel guests reconsidered their reservations at a rate of 82% in 2020, and one of the main causes identified was repetition in the purchasing process. During a traditional booking process, guests are overwhelmed with long forms to be completed before they can confirm a reservation. Prospective guests are not interested in retyping personal information on multiple pages throughout the reservation process. Each additional form field entry leaves room for error, distraction or abandonment – which could all turn away a potential guest in an instant.
With integrated digital identity authentication, customers can instantly scan an ID with their own device, safely capturing the data required for registration quickly. This information can then autofill any additional sections where needed, removing repetition, and eliminating errors. For hotel guests, this can unlock the possibility of a smartphone check-in, allowing them to skip the front-desk line entirely and receive a room key directly on the app. From Anyline’s recent survey, 59.8% of hotel guests were open to the idea of contactless ID scanning via a mobile device.
For the other 40.2% of customers who were neutral to the idea, or would prefer to have an agent manually enter their data into the system, digital identity features can improve their experiences too. These features reduce wait times because app-friendly guests are absent from the lobby queue. Additionally, staff members should be cross trained to be proficient in both traditional, manual check-ins, as well as automated and contactless alternatives.
Know Your Customer, and Personalize to Them
Incorporating digital identification into an app or website creates an intuitive introduction to a business’ digital platform, opening the door to greater engagement. For hotels, this could mean incorporating customer insights to offer targeted messages for things each traveler would love, like exclusive access or limited time offers at the spa or gym, deals at the restaurant or local travel tips. Personalization in a digital space could also include the ability to “favorite” certain locations of the hotel for easy access and room information. Repeat travelers or loyalty guests could also set up a one-step registration process like Amazon’s “One-Click” purchase.
The way has been paved in hospitality for innovation, thanks to new challenges from COVID-19 and the resulting heightened demand for safety and efficiency. Digital apps and identity verification offer authentic, safe, and engaging experiences for customers in search of a trip that goes as planned, every time.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lukas Kinigadner is Co-Founder and CEO of Anyline, leading the company since its inception to become one of the leading mobile data capture companies in the market. Before Anyline, Lukas founded several companies, including one of the first app agencies in Austria, and brings additional experience from the banking and consultancy sectors. Besides his role as Anyline CEO, Lukas mentors young businesses and shares his expertise with other entrepreneurs starting innovative digital companies.