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Executive Q&A: Investments Must Focus on Guest Satisfaction

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Joe King, VP, Hospitality, North America, Philips Professional Display Systems

HT’s survey data suggests that lodging tech budgets are growing, including the allocation of more resources to research and development. What spending priorities should be top of mind for hotel tech leaders?

Now that travel has rebounded and hotels are starting to see occupancy rates return to normal, investments need to be centered around guest satisfaction to secure a return stay.  A previous study on customer engagement points out that guests consider technology such as contactless payment, smart/casting TVs  and mobile features (check-in/digital keys) as leading factors when they are deciding on which hotel to book their stay.  

Guests want an experience that is the same or better than what they have at home.  Ease of use is definitely a factor.

Last Fall, the latest Nieslen study showed that streaming had outpaced broadcast and cable TV.  Guests want to watch their favorite programs, so investing in a solution that delivers that to guests will be essential for hotels in 2023. A recent HT survey found almost three-quarters of guests stated they would be likely to return to a hotel that met its technology needs. Technology has become an integral part of the guest experience and a determinant of guest satisfaction and loyalty.

Naturally technology can be a huge investment.  When designing Philips MediaSuite, we wanted to ensure it was both seamless for the hotel and for the guest.  Because it is the only hospitality solution to offer Chromecast built-in it gives the guest casting right out the box.  No extra box, wires or clunky equipment that the hotel has to invest in to make it work.  

Because guest satisfaction is paramount, we made sure it is intuitive for the guest to use.  They simply scan a QR code and start casting from their apps on their device.

We see high adoption rates for self-service tech such as mobile reservations, check-in/out, and digital room key. How can the move to mobility and self-service help drive revenue and operational efficiency?

Personally as a guest, it is always welcomed and appreciated when a hotel has many interactions available through its app or has a mobile-chat function.  We always have our phones with us, so it makes it easy to complete several tasks like check-out, review the bill, order room service etc. without having to trouble the front desk or wait on hold for help.  Recently, I have experienced hotels that use an AI chat for requests like wake-up calls,towels,etc.  I can see how this would effect the hotel's bottom line because it streamlines requests and frees the staff up to interact with guests.

We also see strong support for redefining technology ROI, which has historically been challenging to calculate. How should hotel leaders redefine tech ROI?

It really comes down to giving the guest more without increasing the manpower in doing it.  We see it in other sectors as well, the use of technology to increase engagement and at the same time limiting the cost of doing so.  If a hotel can use technology, and in a similar way guests use it at home or while at work, it can increase guest satisfaction which translates into loyalty and increased revenue.

Security is always top of mind. How can hotels ensure privacy and data security in an evolving landscape?

The Guest can be ensured that their privacy and data is secure with the Philips CMND connection to the PMS. This allows the Hotel to clear all personal data at check out.  When it comes to Chromecast built-in, once the guest makes a connection with their device and the TV, that connection is only valid while the guest is in the room.  When a guest leaves, they are logged out of casting automatically.

How does the voice of the customer (VoC), including your clients and your clients’ customers, help inform your R&D?  

The voice of our customers, as well as the end user (the hotel guest) is at the center of our innovation. This product first launched in Europe and we had the benefit to gather input prior to launch here in North America. We have regular discussions with owners about features, customization, the software interface, etc. Our development team in Europe is constantly getting feedback and making improvements that hoteliers suggest.  Ultimately, the TV has to deliver what the guest wants and in an intuitive way.  We monitor trends, talk with our content partners regularly and survey the guest experience to make sure we are delivering an entertainment experience that will be a differentiating factor for hotels.

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