The hotel industry has always thrived on delivering an exceptional customer experience. Traditionally, this has been achieved through impeccably-trained staff and comfortable, highly functional design. However, with the market becoming increasingly more competitive and technologies advancing at a dizzying rate, consumer demand for more than just a friendly face at reception and chocolate mints on the bed has soared.
As Brian McGuinness of Starwood remarks, there was a time when travelers loved hotels because they were better than being at home, but then “people started doing great things to their houses and hotels needed to catch up”.
That's where smart hotels came in to fill the niche.
But what exactly are smart hotels and why are they so special?
Simply put, smart hotels are, well, smart about the way in which they tend to their guests. Thanks to the Internet of Things (aka computerised devices used in everyday objects), hotel operations such as check-in, security, energy management and more can now not only be more efficiently managed, but also deliver a more outstanding customer experience.
Here's a couple of examples of how this can work:
- Voice activated commands - Whether your guests want to turn their music on and off, open or close their curtains or call the concierge, thanks to voice-activated commands they'll be able to do this without getting up from the comfort of their hotel.
- Robotics - From vacuuming to making beds, robots will inevitably make their way to hotels to take over mundane, automated tasks. In fact, the really smart hotels are already embracing this advance.
- Digital room keys - We can pay for things with the tap of our phone, so why can't we open hotel rooms with it, too? Watch this space - digital room keys are set to hit a number smart hotels in 2018.
- Mobile check-in - Ever experienced tedious queues at a hotel upon your arrival? The last thing you want to do after an arduous journey is wait around until you can finally plunge down into that amazing hotel bed. The great news is that mobile check-ins will help avoid all that waiting and get you into your room pronto.
- Personalised service - Personalising a guest's experience is the surest way to win them over. Think about it: most big-name hotel brands offer generic services with very little in the way of catering to their clients' individual needs. We're not just talking about requesting a bottle of champagne on arrival, either. Take Virgin Hotels as an example, who have recently partnered with The Gap to allow guests to order online from their store from the convenience of their hotel room, and have the items delivered to their room within three hours.
Times and tastes are a-changing, and consumers are willing to pay good money in return for a more intimate and personalised experience. Don't lag behind the times and incorporate the smart hotel approach to your business.