It’s both an exciting and challenging time to be in the hotel industry. In responding to problems, being agile and creative has helped drive innovation and opportunity. A great example of this has been the explosion of voice technology within hotels, such as virtual assistants, voice-controlled apps, and smart rooms that allow guests to adjust their in-room environment through verbal commands.
In the U.S. alone, 25% of households now have an Amazon Alexa device. Add in Google Home, Microsoft Cortana, and Apple Siri, and it’s no wonder that the global market for voice assistants is expected to grow by another 32% this year alone. If you think about it, using this familiar and convenient technology in hotel rooms may actually help guests feel at home.
For both front and back of house, the key benefits of voice technology “speak” for themselves. Being contactless, voice-activated technology has helped hotels navigate post-COVID guest concerns, and by being automated, it has also helped alleviate operational issues created by staff shortages. Now that leisure travel is back and booming, and with business travel starting to recover, a tech-first guest experience anchored in voice-technology is helping hotels appeal to a newer generation of tech-savvy travelers.
Beyond these obvious benefits, however, there are some lesser-discussed advantages hoteliers and hotel brands should consider when thinking about investing in voice technology. Here are a few examples.
1. Incremental Revenue
Voice technology operating platforms custom-built for the industry now allow management teams to quickly build answers to guest’s most commonly asked questions and to better promote on-site amenities such as spas, restaurants and golf courses. Imagine being able to communicate daily specials and promotions geared to increase traffic during slower parts of the day, all through a non-intrusive, guest-friendly format.
The ability to drive incremental revenue can be further enhanced through integrations between a hotel’s voice platform and its reservation data, allowing properties to adjust offerings based on loyalty status or reservation details. For instance, providing promotions only to repeat guests can help increase both guest loyalty and revenue, while consideration of group size and number of children can help properties better tailor voice-enabled promotions and recommendations. In drive-to leisure markets, hoteliers are even realizing success promoting mid-stay trip extensions during lower occupancy periods. It’s a simple way to boost occupancy and something we have recently introduced to our own voice assistant solution, XEVA, which is used in hotels across the US.
2. Draw Insights on Guest Behavior
Data is valuable currency in the hospitality industry, particularly when competition for guests has never been more fierce. Insights that can help to better understand guest behavior is critical not just to the guest experience, but also to marketing and operations.
Through analyzing detailed data captured from voice technology, hoteliers can better respond to and predict guest requests. From identifying the most popular guest requests and inquiries to quickly identifying common maintenance issues, voice technology provides greater insight into guests’ wants and needs. However, over the long-term the most impactful use of this data will be in the form of dynamic marketing campaigns that are able to target particular customer segments based on past amenity usage and requests - all helping to increase occupancy and the bottom line.
3. Guest Acquisition
Voice technology doesn’t have to be limited to automating operations or enhancing the touchpoints of the guest journey, it can act as a guest acquisition tool while this technology is still relatively new within the sector.
Taking voice assistants as an example, marketing your hotels by adding these as a listed amenity at booking, or using them in website and social media content can provide a way to differentiate from the competition and establish your unique brand.
4. Build Relationships with Local Tourism Providers
It’s not just on-property amenities that guests are interested in. Hotels play a huge role in the local tourism ecosystem of activities, attractions, and restaurants. Relationships with these symbiotic businesses are something that voice technology can help foster. By providing a means of creating custom content to easily share local recommendations, this enhances and better personalizes the overall guest experience.
5. Reduced Operational Costs
Lastly, employing voice technology can help increase operational efficiency and reduce overall labor costs. Giving guests the ability to direct routine questions to a voice assistant allows staff to focus on fewer, quality in-person guest interactions. Where newer voice technology solutions really step up is in directing guest queries to the correct departments within a hotel, for example, maintenance or housekeeping. By streamlining workflows, this is a win-win for hotelier time, expense and overall guest experience.
About the Author
Matthew Loney currently serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Xplorie, the leading guest experience platform for U.S. leisure markets. Under Mr. Loney’s leadership, Xplorie has nearly quadrupled in size with a partnership base that now includes industry leading operators within the hotel, vacation rental, and RV Resort verticals. Prior to Xplorie, Mr. Loney served as an executive for two national restaurant chains, where he was responsible for overhauling the customer experience as a means of driving increased brand awareness and loyalty.