Ninety-six percent of unhappy customers don’t complain and 91 percent of them will simply leave and never come back. Further, 55 percent of customers would pay extra to guarantee a better service. In light of these statistics, hoteliers must put customer satisfaction at the forefront.
It’s now more important than ever to put the customer first. Hotel rooms are seen as a commodity and more and more customers are utilizing forums like TripAdvisor and Yelp before booking. Often, technology can help differentiate your property from the rest.
Hotel brands are slowly starting to integrate next generation technologies, like when Hilton and Starwood announced mobile room keys last year. But in general, the hospitality industry is behind on the innovation curve. An example: Some major hotel chains are still having trouble figuring out how to let their guests stream Netflix from their rooms. The convergence of technology will turn IT investments into systematic assets that allow hoteliers to grow and navigate a dynamic market.
That said, I believe that we’ll begin to see a shift in hotel technology innovation in 2015 and beyond. Many – from the big chains to small independent hotels – are trying to decipher the future behaviors of the digitally savvy traveler. The following are my predictions of three ways that the guest experience will change through technology in 2015.
In-room concierge services are already starting to pop up and are a guest’s direct line to the front desk and the outside world. Touch-screens are also making their way in hotel rooms that let the guest control elements in their room, as well as browse additional services and order room service. In addition to basic controls and functions, these interfaces are prime real estate for the hotel to engage their guests and provide yet another layer of engagement. Want another towel or pillow? Push a button. Dinner or show reservations? Just a couple taps and it’s done.
However, in the future, I believe these will go to the next level. Imagine where one minute, a hotel guest uses an in-room touch screen to order towels or room service. The next minute they are being notified that their ride to the airport is ready or that their event has been moved inside to the main ballroom due to weather. In-room touch points will soon be able to seamlessly switch back and forth between functions based on context to provide the guest with a unique, personalized experience.
Last year, the industry went crazy over the Apple Watch and Google Glass. With a simple flick of the wrist, guests can view third-party applications from hotels, change their reservations, check the weather and more. Customers will also be able to share their experience at a hotel via social media or write about it on TripAdvisor right from the watch. Now that Apple Pay is becoming more universal, hoteliers should expect increased bookings from smartphones and smartwatches as customers can store their payment information right in the app. As the application eco-system for wearables continues to grow, the interaction with the guest before, during, and after their stay will continue to mature. Guest will not only be able to control and interact with their room, but will allow for continued customization of their experience.
Along with guest utilization, hotel employees will use wearables to provide seamless back-end customer service, allowing for predictive upkeep and true optimization. For example, a hotel engineer can wear a watch and see the rooms that need attention and he or she can run tests on a room prior to stepping on the property. This allows the engineer to know what’s going on with the room or potential problems in many cases prior to a guest being affected. If staff has access to updates on their watch in real time, it eliminates correspondence back and forth, saving time and money and limiting potential guest interruptions.
Internet of Everything
In 2015 and beyond, guests will expect to see more of the comforts of home during their travels. While home automation products will primarily drive innovation in this area, some will cross over into commercial use. Various types of sensors and connected devices will be instrumental in the evolution of the in-room experience and continue to challenge hoteliers with integration into their plans.
More and more hotel guests live in a connected world and expect to stay connected. These digitally savvy travelers operate multiple gadgets, favor seamless transfer of data and are willing to share personal information. As hoteliers plan for future IT expenditures, they need to be prepared for this connected and integrated world – and it will be bigger than we think.
About the author
Leo Daiuto is SVP of User Experience & Product Strategy of Evolve Controls. Evolve Controls creates customizable enterprise-class solutions for automating, controlling and monitoring connected spaces. Leo is responsible for product innovation, design and marketing initiatives. With over 15 years of experience building and leading creative teams, Leo is passionate about creating compelling experiences. Prior to Evolve Controls, Leo was the Founder and CEO of software design agency, Slamm Creative and served as Director of Human Factors and Design and Unisys Corporation. In Leo’s free time, he is a musician, father, and technology geek. Follow him on Twitter at @LeoADaiuto.