With 73% of travelers saying they’d prefer their next hotel experience to be self-service, hospitality operators must integrate contactless technology to continue boosting booking during this crucial time for recovery, but they often don’t know where to start. To help operators better understand what guests want and what options are currently available, HT reached out to Austen Asadorian, VP of Sales at SevenRooms. In this Q&A, Asadorian discusses the most important contactless tools (such as mobile check-in and contactless F&B ordering) hotel operators should use to create a self-service experience for their guests, and key strategies to implement them.
As travel surges, how are you seeing hotels utilize technology solutions?
As travel demand accelerates, eager guests are looking to make up for lost time by booking unique hospitality experiences. Yet, with this return to travel comes heightened expectations from guests. For operators, this renewed enthusiasm represents an opportunity to recover lost revenue, and they’re employing new technology solutions to do so.
The pandemic introduced many consumers to contactless technology, so hotels are expanding on this new familiarity with self-service tools. These include online ordering tools so guests can view, order and pay for experiences at their leisure, direct reservation platforms that streamline operations and enhance service at on-property F&B outlets, and QR codes that create a seamless experience throughout the hotel.
What are the specific solutions operators should consider? And what are their benefits?
Any hotel with amenities should consider mobile booking solutions. Providing guests the opportunity to book a spa experience, kayak rental, or in-room mimosa breakfast from their phone will both drive demand for these experiences and make the guest feel empowered to create their own experience.
Tastefully-placed QR codes (think: on the window of a restaurant, in-room postcard or on a bar coaster) can build digital interactions with guests at various moments throughout their stay. They can enable guests to access location-specific menus and book a restaurant reservation directly, discover additional information about special events on-property, or book amenities such as a massage at the spa. QR codes also enable guests to pay for an experience directly from their phone at their leisure, which can help combat staffing shortages.
For hotels that have popular on-premises dining options, operators should consider incorporating direct, white-labeled reservation tools that capture guest contact information to grow their client database and incorporate loyalty offerings for guests. These tools can integrate with the hotel’s booking CRM to create a robust profile of every guest, and allow restaurant staff to offer surprise and delight experiences based on the deeper insights they have about a guest’s preferences.
How are guests reacting to these solutions? Do they even want them?
Not only are guests positively reacting to these solutions, but they prefer them. According to a recent study, nearly three-quarters (73%) of travelers want to use their mobile device to manage their hotel experience.
Having all of a hotel's services at their fingertips offers guests the opportunity to have complete control over their stay. All necessary information such as payments, reservations, and hotel amenity options are accessible, which helps expedite guest requests, and boosts their satisfaction by eliminating any annoying technological or logistical hiccups from their experience.
How is this technology integrated into the 2022 hotel guest’s stay?
Self-service technologies are becoming integrated into every part of a guest’s stay – let’s imagine how a guest might interact with these technologies on a typical vacation day.
They wake up eager to have a pool day, so they use their phone to access the online reservation platform to book a cabana. Later, as they lounge in the sun, they get hungry and see a QR code placed on their chairside table. They simply scan the code, place their food order for delivery to their cabana, and pay directly from their phone without ever leaving their chair.
On the way back up to their room, they pass by the hotel restaurant and are able to reserve a tasting menu for later in the evening without needing to call the front desk. During the booking process, they are able to pay to upgrade to a table with a view and add on the wine pairing for dinner. Once they arrive at their reservation, waitstaff can view their preferences through their integrated customer profile, delivering glasses of their favorite champagne to their table to cap off their fun-filled day. This is the power of a data-driven, guest-forward experience enabled through technology.
What’s next for the hotel industry?
Adoption of contactless technology, including self-service check-in, in-room technology, mobile room keys, and digital payments increased by 66% during the pandemic, and this trend will only continue as consumers continue to return to travel following the pandemic.
We can expect to see hotels implement many new integrations, from voice-activated room service ordering to full-integrated itinerary builders that enable guests to book their hotel, F&B and activity reservations all in one checkout flow. The throughline will be a continued commitment to personalized hospitality excellence, with self-service technologies freeing up staff to focus on making a guest’s stay unforgettable.
About Austen Asadorian
Austen Asadorian is the Vice President of Sales at SevenRooms, where he is tasked with supporting SevenRooms’ global expansion efforts and accelerating the company's vision of being the best-in-class solution for hospitality operators globally. Prior to joining SevenRooms, Austen was Peloton’s Director of Sales, helping the company define their go-to-market strategy for retail growth and expansion. He started his career at Hillstone Restaurant Group where he cut his teeth learning how to run efficient and profitable restaurants at scale. Austen was ultimately promoted into an executive role where he oversaw the company’s Manager in Training Program and Back of House Operations. Austen graduated from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).