New technologies for hotels in the XXI century
Technology can help gather the information needed to better customize the customer experience, said Robert Cole, a consultant in hotel marketing and tourism technology and founder of RockCheetah. For example, knowing that clients are probably booking their honeymoon stay because they clicked on a banner and visited the website of a wedding magazine, it makes no sense to offer them a free children’s program.
As Cole says, “If you know the reason for your trip, you can create a more solid customer experience and sell them everything they want, sending them the mail from which they have made the reservation messages prior to their arrival or also through An app, the possibility of booking other services in the destination like romantic restaurants or tickets for a famous show. The hotelier can thus cross-sell to offer great experiences. “
Once the guest has arrived at the hotel, he tries to rationalize the registration, according to Cole. A study by JD Power & Associates on airlines revealed that passengers were less satisfied with the experience the more they interacted with staff, just the opposite of what happens in hotels.
This statement may sound like an attempt to counteract the growing popularity of technologies that allow remote check-in and apps to enter the room with the mobile, but Cole does not think so: “It’s not that Guests do not want to interact with hotel staff; They want to do so as long as the benefit of that interaction is for them. “
And, in his opinion, during a traditional stay almost every interaction required benefits the hotel, such as asking the customer for their identification at check-in, sign a paper admitting the maximum time to be able to check-out or not Smoking in the room. Worst of all is that customers have to queue to get their bill.
Best practices in technology make it possible to turn these interactions into a better customer experience. The challenge now, he says, is “how to use that technology to facilitate it, not to eliminate staff from the interaction because the hotelier wants his guests to feel welcomed, like at home, enjoying true hospitality.”
In this regard, he explains, “there are some apps that allow you to check in remotely and others that make it easier for customers to choose a particular room, which generates upselling and cross-selling opportunities. In both cases it should work relatively easily with most modern SMPs. Apps also serve to communicate with customers. “
The perfect application, in your own words, is one that unifies the communication channels in a single in which the hotel can incorporate the possibility of making reservations, pre-arrival procedures, room status, request a service Rooms and even tickets for a show. All this integrated into a single area that is more efficient for the client. That is the behavior that the guests and their interests are asking for, which also generates extremely powerful information. “
Development of artificial intelligence and voice control
Red Lion Hotels has been testing different artificial intelligence solutions to see how they fit into their business, both in back-office and customer-facing operations, according to their Chief Information Officer, John Edwards. And there are many options in the market, but none that stand out yet. That is why the chain is taking its time to find the best partners to help them in what is called to be the future of the natural era of machine learning, he stressed.
The company has begun testing the possibility of using artificial intelligence for floor and reception waitresses. Thus, if one of them has a question, such as how to do the cleaning in depth of a room, or a customer has an individual service problem, the employee can ask a question using the tool, either online or through Mobile, and it can analyze a database of answers and present the different options available. “It empowers the person to get quicker responses,” according to Edwards.
Hilton Worldwide has begun to explore the possibilities offered by cognitive learning and the recognition of speeches and scenarios in which they could be applied, as highlighted by Jonathan Wilson, Vice President of Innovation and Brand Services. Technology can automate personal responses to individuals based on the way they speak instead of just looking at the words they say.
The chain has found a partner to move forward with this development and is creating a concierge experience in which voice recognition becomes cognitive learning. One of the areas in which they are focusing the application of this technology is in the meeting rooms. So far if the room was too cold the client had to find an employee to ask him to change the temperature, and then he had to locate the person who could make the adjustment. Now the customer just has to comment aloud that it is cold and the temperature is adjusted gently. “That’s where technology becomes powerful, with a personal focus and accelerating response,” says Wilson.
However, while generating exciting developments, voice control technology still has some drawbacks. Some groups “are doing crazy,” Cole says, like equipping all rooms with iPads, which are expensive pieces of hardware that require upgrades. The technology applied to voice-controlled room elements also requires customers to take a couple of minutes for devices to learn their voices, and “they do not want to do that, but intuitive, trouble-free performance.”
Voice-activated commands are still at a very early stage and have problems with their operation, according to David Sjolander, HTNG Operations Manager (Hotel Technology Next Generation), how to understand the different accents and requests when everything the customer wants Is to close the curtains. “There is also a security issue. These devices have to be listening all the time to hear the customer say ‘Alexa’ or whatever term. Who knows who’s hearing that? “
Red Lion has focused on the payment through the mobile to the increasing use of the mobile devices by its customers, as Edwards acknowledges. The chain is talking to different solution providers in this area, in order to implement it during the booking process this year. “It’s one of those things that we can not ignore. Customers are increasingly booking more through their mobile. “
For most hotels the mobile experience is very similar to the process on a desktop computer, stresses Edwards, while with the OTA is completely different. Hoteliers therefore have to deal with it in totally different ways because consumers are interacting with other solutions and suppliers similar to the hotels but in a different way.
During a recent business trip from Sjolander to Amsterdam, the Hilton I was in had a sign that gave customers a number to send messages to while in the hotel or in the city. The concierge would receive them and help them by answering questions or satisfying requests, such as booking at a restaurant. The instant messaging format helps with the costs as well as the translation challenges posed by phone calls.
And sending messages is a simple task for customers. In fact everyone does it, so it is not necessary to teach them how to do it, says Sjolander. However for hoteliers it implies more work, since it requires adding tools to consolidate and manage it properly, in order to ensure that customers receive the answers to their requirements. “It’s a bit more work, but it provides great service to guests,” Sjolander concludes.
Reference information is available at HotelNewsNow.
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