ithout a doubt, technology has become so ingrained in our lives that we aren’t sure how to live without it. So many things that we used to do in person – banking, doctor’s appointments, shopping – have been completely reshaped because of tech.
In the travel and hospitality industry, the standards have been set for online reservations, customer service, and reviews. But how can your destination use tech to make the guest experience better than ever? Here are some ideas for ways you can use tech to stand out.
1. Mobile Check-in
This is a trend that caught on during the pandemic to offer touch-free check-ins and stuck around because guests really liked it. Enabling mobile check-in allows your guests to bypass the front desk and go directly to their rooms without waiting in line in the lobby, which allows your staff to focus on other essential administrative tasks.
But what about room keys? The answer is keyless entry – using tech like bluetooth or NFC and QR codes that let guests use their smartphones to unlock their room doors and exterior doors. This is a win-win because it keeps your traffic flowing smoothly, and also cuts down on trips to the front desk to replace a lost or deactivated key. (We’re willing to bet that more people misplace their room keys than they do their cell phones.)
A winning example: The Annex Hotel, an upscale Toronto boutique hotel, offers both mobile check-in and keyless room entry to rave reviews. They also use a digital concierge to help guests make the most of their stay (more on that later).
2. Chatbots and Virtual Assistants
When guests complete their mobile check-in, they receive a text from your property’s virtual chatbot, who can answer questions like “What time is breakfast?” and “What attractions are nearby?” Chatbots are a tremendous opportunity to give your hotel a personality and provide tremendous added value to your guests – all in the palm of their hand.
Chatbots are a great way for properties who don’t otherwise have concierge service to offer it to their guests. And for those that do, a digital concierge can serve as an enhancement to the experience, be available 24/7, and free up the human concierge for more complicated requests.
A winning example: The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas has a digital concierge named Rose who introduces herself to guests via text as the “Resident Mischief-Maker” after they check in. Her personality perfectly matches the style of this modern resort with messages like “P.S. When I’m in a good mood, I tend to be generous with friends.” and “As your virtual hook-up …” Rose also frequently talks about her human friends, positioning herself as an enhancement, not a replacement.
3. In-room Technology
Amenities aren’t all about thread counts and cocktail bars – these days, guests are also looking for high-speed internet, smart TVs, and streaming services like Netflix or Hulu. Other perks that bring the tech can include smart lighting and blinds, temperature controls, and wireless charging stations for all those electronics. (Imagine how cool it would be to say, “Alexa, lights off” from the comfort of your luxurious hotel bed.)
A winning example: The Loews Hotel 1000 in Seattle has rooms that are completely tricked out with tech, including a work desk with a connectivity panel, a VoIP phone service that lets you make calls anywhere in the world for free, and controls for customizing not only the room temperature, but also humidity, artwork, and music. Finally, infrared sensors let housekeeping staff know whether the rooms are occupied, which means no more knocking on the door when guests are still asleep.
4. Mobile Apps
How cool would it be if guests at your event venue could order a drink from the bar, get an alert when it’s ready to be picked up, and then pay online? Or make dinner reservations, book tours, check in and out of hotel rooms and even more? A robust, well-designed mobile app can provide a seamless experience from start to finish for not only your customers, but also your staff.
A winning example: Is there a larger, more well-known destination than Walt Disney World? The company’s mobile app, My Disney Experience, lets guests book fast passes, store their ticket information, see park hours, make dining reservations, order food, and more. It also offers real-time suggestions for rides and attractions that have short wait times, creates daily itineraries based on user interests, and even keeps track of where you parked your car. The list goes on and on, making it one of the most robust destination apps out there.
5. Personalized Communication
There’s just something about being addressed by your first name that feels special, and tech allows you the opportunity to do that for every guest with ease. The trend toward personalization began with adding a guest’s first name to email and text communications, but it’s since grown to include amenities like personalized recommendations and post-visit surveys. By gathering just a bit of information about your guest (are they traveling with kids, for example) you can create a recommendation engine that offers up the perfect restaurants and attractions for that traveler.
A winning example: Hotel Luganodante in Switzerland offers guests an amenity called MyPage, where they can choose from more than 150 options for their rooms, from room temperature to pillow types to what kind of drinks and snacks they’d like in the mini bar,
6. Augmented/Virtual Reality
This trend can serve as an extension of the virtual concierge, and can include virtual tours of local attractions, 360-degree views of available hotel rooms, and more. The possibilities here are only bound by your imagination, but here are two winning examples we love:
A winning example: Back to the Loews Hotel 1000 in Seattle, where the lobby includes a virtual golf club. Choose your favorite golf resort (there are more than 50 to choose from!), grab a cold adult beverage and swing away. A specially designed movie screen is designed to simulate your game based on where your ball hits.
Another winning example: You want to go on a cruise, but balcony rooms are expensive. Royal Caribbean gives guests in interior staterooms an outdoor experience with a virtual balcony, a floor-to-ceiling projection with real-time views of the ocean outside. Check out this YouTube video to get a feel for what it’s like.