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Enhancing Independent Hotel Stays with Personalized Technology

Max Spangler, Director of Technology at Charlestowne Hotels shares how his brand leverages technology to elevate the guest stay, build loyalty and create a personalized guest experience.
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Hotel IT executives have been hearing the word “personalization” quite a bit in the last few years. Marketers want to personalize emails and upsells, guests want technology that makes their room feel like home as soon as they walk in the door, front desk agents want to know when a VIP guest walks in so they can greet them by name, and the list goes on and on. It’s no surprise then that major hotel brands are working hard to integrate elevated technology offerings into their properties as a way of catering to and fulfilling this need for personalization. Independent hoteliers want to offer the same level of personalization – an in some cases even more – but may need more help in understanding how best to leverage technology to interact with their guests and build loyalty. Here, Max Spangler, Director of Technology of Charlestowne Hotels, shares his thoughts on how his brand has found success in this area.


How does Charlestowne Hotels leverage existing tech (like SMS text messaging) to elevate guest stays and build loyalty? 

At Charlestowne Hotels, we use SMS text messaging as one of the communication channels to connect with our guests throughout their stay. This technology enables us to send personalized recommendations, notify guests of any updates in hotel services and amenities, and provide alerts when their room is ready. Our SMS messaging enables two-way communication between guests and staff, which has increased traveler satisfaction and loyalty. We use SMS messaging to gather guest feedback, address concerns, and make improvements to enhance the guest experience in the moment (as opposed to waiting for post-stay survey results to come in). 

What do you see as the benefits of an omni-channel tech approach? 

An omni-channel tech approach enables us to communicate with our guests across multiple channels, such as SMS, email, social media, and chatbots, providing a seamless guest experience. This approach enhances guest engagement and loyalty, as guests can select their preferred communication channel. We further leverage technology to provide personalized recommendations, offers, and promotions based on guest behavior and preferences across all communication channels, which creates a more meaningful and personalized guest experience. 

What are a few tips for adapting seamlessly to changing guest preferences in tech? 

We endeavor to stay informed about industry trends and innovations, seek regular feedback from guests through surveys, and invest in technologies that align with our brand values and guest preferences. Additionally, we provide regular training and support to our staff to ensure that they can efficiently use and communicate the latest technology enhancements to our guests. 

The Spectator  Charlestowne Hotels
Image Credit: The Spectator / Charlestowne Hotels

What are the top two to three tech enhancements guests of Charlestowne properties find most important or valuable? Why? 

At Charlestowne Hotels, our guests highly value the convenience and personalization that technology can offer. They find mobile check-in and keyless entry, personalized recommendations, and real-time communication with hotel staff through digital channels, to be highly valuable. These technologies enhance their overall experience, provide convenience, and offer a personalized touch that our guests appreciate. 

Can you identify several emerging tech tools that independent hoteliers should be watching? 

Emerging tech tools that independent hoteliers should be watching include AI-powered chatbots, mobile keyless entry, voice-activated room controls, contactless payments, and virtual and augmented reality experiences. These technologies can enhance the guest experience, create new revenue streams, and streamline operations. 

In the near future, which technologies could become a driver of personalized guest stays?

We believe that conversational AI and chatbots will become essential drivers of personalized guest stays in the near future. They enable real-time communication and assistance, such as personalized recommendations, room service orders, and local weather and transportation updates, all of which enhances the guest experience. Additionally, chatGPT can provide more human-like responses to guest inquiries and provide even more personalized recommendations and assistance. However, we also recognize that other technologies such as biometrics and cryptocurrency could potentially play a role in personalized guest experiences in the future. 

Are independent hotels better equipped to implement new technologies than major hotel brands? 

As an independent hotel management company, we believe that we are better equipped to implement new technologies compared to larger chains. We are more nimble and agile, which enables us to make quick decisions and implement changes more efficiently. However, we recognize that limited resources and budgets could make it more challenging for smaller hotels to invest in and implement certain technologies. 

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