Expect big things in the hospitality industry in 2018. Hotels are constantly changing and adapting to meet market trends, and this could be a big year for tech in particular.
There are all sorts of crazy innovations out there. Hotels are experimenting with virtual reality, for example, and some luxury hotels offer motorized beds that can move out of the way to provide more floor space, or a virtual golf course that lets you hit a ball off the tee while standing in your hotel room.
But what kind of technology makes sense to improve the guest experience at an independent or boutique hotel? Here we highlight six innovations that you can implement to really wow your guests when they visit.
1. Mobile check-in
Sometimes your guests just want to go straight to their room without having to go through the check-in process. Hotels are increasingly recognizing this and mobile check-in is becoming a common tech that should be pretty easy to adopt at your hotel.
A few years ago, Starwood Hotels and Resorts became the first chain to allow guests to unlock doors using their phones. Other chains still require guests to visit the front desk first, but that is merely to grab their keycard.
Mobile check-in in action:
2. Better Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi is a given for hotels these days, but it is so important that you need to do more than simply have it available for your guests—you need to continuously make it better.
According to a recent survey, free Wi-Fi is the most important factor for business and personal travelers when it comes to choosing a hotel. At 49%, it far outweighs any of the other factors, with free breakfast coming in at a distant second with 14%.
However, slow Wi-Fi is one of the most common complaints on popular review sites, so if you’re skimping on the service, you are punishing yourself in the ratings and turning away guests who will look elsewhere.
You can take simple steps to boost your hotel’s Wi-Fi, such as moving routers to a central location or even hanging them from the ceiling if possible. Also, create a separate network for your guests so they aren’t using the same one as your hotel operation. If that doesn’t do enough to bring your Wi-Fi speeds up from the basement, open your wallet and invest in a better router and modem network.
Wi-Fi in action:
Sure, it’s not the sexiest trend in tech, but making sure your IT infrastructure is secure will do a world of good for your guests.
All it takes is one data breach for you to lose countless customers. Investing in infrastructure that can protect the data you get from guests is a critical service you can’t overlook. It is also something you need to have a sharp eye on as you shift more toward mobile devices and the cloud, as they may not offer the same security you get from an in-house IT system.
It’s more than just protecting credit card information or even your guests. Hackers can disrupt your business through electronic door locks, HVAC controls, and whatever Internet of Things devices you have on your property.
There are common-sense approaches you can take to avoid this problem. You can invest in more secure software or networks, create a backup plan so that critical files and data are saved in case of an attack, and restrict access to only the most essential employees.
Cybersecurity in action:
4. Personalized guest experience
As a hotel manager, you have an incredible opportunity to offer your guests a totally unique and customized experience. Today’s hotel management software allows you to track information about your guests’ preferences, not only before the stay but during it— so you can wow them the next time they come to visit by giving them a cup of their favorite brand of coffee, or have the room set at the perfect temperature before they walk in.
Using hotel tech and software, you can keep track of everything from what kind of pillows they like to their food and music preferences. It’s an opportunity to let your guests know that they are valued, and not simply just another entry in the booking ledger.
And in case you worry your guests will find that creepy, 83% of Millennials surveyed by American Express say they welcome hotels tracking their preferences in order to provide a more personalized experience.
Personalized guest experience in action:
5. Hotel management software
If you want to ensure a smooth and relaxing experience for your guests, having the right hotel management software in place is absolutely essential. Today’s software can do an incredible range of things, way beyond simply booking rooms or taking payments.
Hotel software can help you synchronize housekeeping and your front desk. It can help you manage multiple properties. There’s point-of-sale systems for gift shops or restaurant. You can even use software to manage online reviews.
Hotel management software in action: If your current software isn’t meeting your needs and keeping your hotel on top of the tech trends, or you don’t currently have hotel management software, check out our directory to compare software based on the features available, the number of users you have, or even if you want it to be web-based or installed.
Alright, this one may be a little out-of-reach for most independent hoteliers out there unless you run a real high-end place that allows you to charge a premium. But you should pay attention to this trend, because it could be the future of hospitality, not just at the big chains.
“Automated companions” are growing in popularity for hotels that want to automate things such as making deliveries or helping guests find their way around.
Take the Savioke Relay robot, which can deliver snacks directly to rooms and make adorable noises while doing it, much to the amusement of the guests. The obstacle is cost, with the Savioke Relay currently priced at$2,000 per month to lease. But as robot technology continues to grow and the price comes down, don’t be surprised if there are much more affordable options in a few years.
Savioke’s Relay robot in action:
What innovations have you put in place at your hotel?
Surely you’ve experimented with some cool technology at your hotel, so tell us all about it. Is there any tech that really made a different for guests at your hotel? What are some simple tech options for hotels on a budget? Let us know in the comments below.