Anytime we consider adopting new technology for business, there is risk that we are too far ahead of a trend or too far behind it. The art becomes knowing when exactly is the right time to adopt technology and that rarely means being the first or the last to do so.
So how do you know when to adopt a new technology for your hotel business?
Think about these three things: consumer preference, core business objectives and underlying technology timing. While each hotel will have unique business objectives, this article will help those who have underinvested in the guest experience.
Consumers today expect the same digital experience that they get at home when they travel to your hotel. Technology is becoming more accessible each year and faster internet speeds have created a digital renaissance like never before. Here are 5 technologies that will help your hotel win in the digital age.
1. You can now offer secured streaming to your guests
We have entered the age of personalization and choice - it’s no longer enough to offer guests a small selection of pay-per-view movies. Today’s guest is used to instant and free on-demand access to content. Nearly 60% of Americans stream via Netflix in 2018 (source: CNBC) and even smaller services like Hulu boast 20M subscribers in the U.S. alone (source: The Verge). The reality is that guests today have more variety in their pocket than you could ever offer at your hotel. While the days of pay-per-view revenue are largely behind us, the positive side is that as hoteliers we can invest less in guest room entertainment systems and also provide a better experience for our guests. Providing the right services to guests requires a specialized partner in the field. Companies such as Enseo enable hotels to let gets stream securely right on the TV in their room. The trick here is to protect guest accounts by automatically logging them out upon checkout and that’s where Enseo comes in. The company’s technology integrates with your property management system and automatically logs out of guest accounts upon checkout.
2. In-room tablets are cheaper than ever
Historically hoteliers have been apprehensive about putting tablets in guest rooms. Their main complaint has been around cost. Tablet hardware itself was too expensive to consider for any property without astronomical ADR. It’s no secret that the price of hardware has declined drastically as evidenced by the fact that last year the number of smartphones sold for under $80 quintupled (source: The Economist). What does that mean for your hotel? It means that tablets are actually cheaper than ever and often come with zero upfront cost. Tablets are convenient for guests who want to browse amenities on property, chat with the front desk or order room service. Because guest room tablets are connected to your PMS, guests can have an Amazon like experience with 1-click purchase. The beauty of Amazon’s business model is that it can make more money by offering convenience like never before. By shortening the path to checkout from your cart, Amazon increases conversion and makes life easier for consumers. Tablets do exactly that for your hotel and consequently increase services ordered in room while taking strain off of your busy front desk. Spend some time exploring top rated guest room tablet vendors to learn how tablets have increased tRevPaR at hotels like yours.
3. Guest messaging software helps you serve guests where they are
Guest messaging software might not sound like guest room technology but it definitely is. The average U.S. adult spends nearly 4 hours on their smartphone each day (source: Market Watch). While on their smartphone they send an average of 67 text messages each day (source: Experian). This explosion in use of mobile devices is what has given rise to the BYOD (bring your own device) movement. Guests today are in their rooms texting friends, colleagues and family. Domino’s even offers customers the ability to order pizza with emojis. With guests texting around the clock it’s important to be where they are. Hotels can leverage services such as Whistle, Zingle and HelloShift to deliver better and faster service to guests without adding more staff to the team.
4. Voice activated devices
One of the newer innovations in guest room technology has come from voice assistants. Companies such as Volara have been putting Amazon Alexa devices in hotel rooms across the globe. Before installing voice assistants in each room - it’s important to think about the core use cases. Some guests will be wary that the assistant is listening in on their private conversations so try a couple in your rooms and see how much guests are using them. Voice assistants in room are great to help guests request cleaning services, checkout, F&B and valet. Frankly they serve many of the same guest needs as in room tablets and guest messaging software so try all 3 and decide which is right for your hotel.
5. Keyless entry
The last upgrade your hotel should consider in 2019 is keyless entry. Similar to what we’ve seen in tablets, the cost of going keyless has drastically fallen in the last 2-3 years while the technology has conversely improved. Starwood was the first hotel group to announce that it had cracked the keyless entry formula with SPG Keyless in 2014. Back then mobile phones were slower and less reliable. As we approach a 5G world downloading apps will be instantaneous meaning that consumer adoption of keyless entry technology is growing at a rapid clip. In addition to consumer adoption of this technology - the cost to deploy such technology has dropped dramatically making it more accessible to all segments of hotels. Today, companies such as 4suites and StayMyWay offer technology that can integrate with many existing lock providers to make installing keyless at your property cheaper and faster than ever.