Guests increasingly expect customized digital engagement and services. How can hotels leverage technology to provide personalized services on property?JADY WEST: There are many opportunities during the guest journey for hoteliers to use technology to gain insight about guests’ preferences. From the time a search is made for a hotel, consumers are leaving digital footprints that can be leveraged by hoteliers. Utilizing data analytics and technology a hotelier can begin to create guest personas or profiles that can help deliver a more personalized experience. As an example, innovative in-room entertainment systems that provide food ordering options can capture what items are being ordered by which guests and/or what dining reservations are being made on modules like OpenTable. This data allows the hotel to present guests with a more personalized dining offering during their next stay.
Connectivity is vital for hotels to deliver on guest experiences and power the enterprise. What must a next-generation hotel network look like in order to meet the needs of both? What should operators look for in a network provider?
The IoT world is no longer out there in some near future; it is here now. A hotel network that is not currently robust enough to handle an IoT environment is behind. A strong network is required to support multiple connected devices and guest-facing applications, which often demand high data capacity and low latency. In addition, new generation technologies like 5G and CBRS will need to be integrated with existing technologies. Operators should seek partners that have experience in integrating complex technology environments to facilitate optimum guest experiences.
Is tiered access for hotel Wi-Fi appropriate or should hotels consider strong Wi-Fi table stakes?
This is not an either-or proposition; the correct answer depends on many elements, but should be a combination of both tiered Wi-Fi offerings and fast, free solutions. The guest experience and value proposition for each guest determines the balance between these two options. A family on a summer vacation will have different Wi-Fi needs than a convention attendee who is traveling for work and will need high-speed data that is robust enough to access media files from the cloud. Regardless of the different needs for Wi-Fi, all travelers expect a free, reliable connection that will allow for general surfing and regular email use.
Finding ROI for technology spend is a perennial top challenge. What are some ways hoteliers should rethink network strategy to realize returns?
WEST: The return on the investment centers around two distinct categories: the guest experience and operational efficiencies for the property. Both require the property to invest in a strong, technology infrastructure, which creates the platform that will support all other business segments.
Guest facing/enterprise apps, in-room entertainment systems, digital signage platforms and custom-managed Wi-Fi networks are all technology foundations. With these foundations in place, new tools and solutions such as; guest-facing wayfinding, guestroom check-in and out, guest messaging, advertisement offerings, e-commerce for show tickets and room service, employee panic button safety tools, inventory tracking and much more can be delivered, which help a hotelier achieve meaningful efficiencies and create an amazing guest experience.