How Hotel Technology Is Delivering on Millennials Guest Expectations
In the digital world, Millennials are taken care of, like a friend or family. They’re given assistance, personal recommendations, and easy access to information at the click of a button. When Millennials step out from the digital world into the real world, their experiences are disconnected. In retail stores, nobody recognizes them while Amazon would have suggested a product tailored to their needs. At hotels, requesting a service is still outdated. This is a serious disconnect and is affecting guest experiences in large physical spaces like stadiums, malls, retail stores, convention centers and hotels. Let’s take a look at how technology can match up to Millennial’s expectations.
- Frictionless guest experience:
When guests walk into a hotel lobby, their expectation is that the hotel knows who they are, so check-in can happen smoothly. This usually isn’t the case. Hotel guests go through a long process from check-in, to identity verification, to paying for hotel amenities and services. Guests shouldn’t have to wait at the check-in desk for room allotment and access cards.
A frictionless guest experience is when they can just walk into their room with their phone. There are multiple technologies that can be used here like WiFi, NFC, Beacon, Bluetooth and native mobile apps through multi channel communication like email, SMS and captive portals.
What helps make the experience frictionless is reducing the need for guests to carry items like keys, remotes, and sensors to control and access entry to their rooms and other services in the hotel. They also expect to control the settings of the room like the entertainment system, room temperature, room lighting, schedule laundry and room cleaning services — all this controlled through a phone. Today most of these services are done through dial-inns inside rooms.
Technologies used: WiFi, Beacon, NFC, Bluetooth, native mobile apps, at-location cloud infrastructure.
Guests rarely gets attention until they reach the check-in counter today. When they are at the restaurant or the gym, they don’t get any personal treatment or they are not given personal assistance like ensuring the food served is gluten free or trainer at the gym gives instructions for cardio exercise. The room temperature needs to be set, genre of music needs to be picked and details need to be conveyed to the staff. If guests need assistance, they have to pick up the phone and dial the front desk, a hassle that has not been improved for the last few decades.
Generation Z and Millennials value personalization the most. Every digital interface makes them feel at home. From YouTube to Spotify, Amazon to Netflix, these places know what their customer wants more than what the customer knows about themselves. Sigh.
Guests want to be personally taken care of, like how they are taken care of online. Imagine if hotels gave guests personalized experiences. As the guests walk in, the staff can meet and greet high value customers. After working out at the gym, their favorite smoothie could be served as they walk back to the room, their favorite playlist on the sound system as they enter their room, communicating and keeping them updated about services through a very personalized email or SMS — these are just some ways to personally engage with guests.
Technologies used: WiFi, Beacon, native mobile apps, data analytics and prediction engines, integration with IOT products like Philips Hue, at-location cloud infrastructure.
- Aggregating Local Services:
Local services are still run independently. Subject to interaction and coordination with hotel services is still mostly through phone calls and sms. If there are events or fairs that guests would be interested in the area, they’ll never get to know until seeing nearby events online or in brochures at the front lobby desk. In the last 40 years, except with a limited technology upgrade like mobile apps and giving internet connectivity to rooms, the situation still continues to be the same for hotels. Local services continue to be run independently.
Meanwhile, Millennials and Gen Z have a different set of expectation. With the right platform, hotels could share data amongst partners to provide a more contextual experience. An example would be the hotel getting an update as soon as a guest lands at the airport so the hotel room can be prepared accordingly. Once they reach the lobby of the hotel, they are greeted by the VIP manager and escorted to their room. When they want to step out, a taxi service like Uber or lyft is already waiting for them — as it was there on their schedule. These are just a few examples to show how a shared data ecosystem could enhance the customer journey before they even step into any location.
Technologies used: Integration of APIs from airline companies, retailers, event organizers, convention center and an at-location cloud infrastructure.
This is our quick list of experiences that Millennials and Generation Z will be expecting from hotels. As a traveler in 2017, what do u expect to see in the hotel you are staying?
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