Technology has transformed travel. It’s that simple. From virtual-reality tours to mobile check-in to storing and personalizing guests’ preferences, technology is continuing to influence the way we stay and vacay, so to speak. And it’s also continuing to impact the way hotels do business. It comes down to this equation: guests’ demands + hotel delivery = happy customers.
If you turn to our Tech Solutions supplement, which appears after our Technology/Mobile Apps piece on page 18, you’ll notice this thought colorfully illustrated on the cover. Whether ordering food and beverage through emojis, having free, high-speed internet connection, blue-tooth compatibility or keyless entry, your guests want convenience. All at their fingertips. And what the guest wants, the guest should, and will expect to, get. Welcome to the age of the empowered traveler—a concept that is bolstered by increasingly rapid advancements in the technology space.
In the supplement’s cover story, Senior Associate Editor Nicole Carlino interviews, among others, Alexander Shashou, founder and president of ALICE, a hotel service management tool that handles front- and back-of-house and guest communication in one platform. One of the many points he makes sums up this notion in a clear and impactful way: “At the end of the day, hospitality is about the human touch. Hospitality is the emotion you get from that; how the staff delivers it, how they make you feel at home. A lot of the fear in hospitality is that technology takes away from it. No. The point of the technology is to better empower staff to deliver better service and better empower the guest.”
It’s this empowered—and somewhat entitled guest (after all, many of these guests are digital natives who were brought up on technology and the immediate gratification it often supplies)—who, upon finding out something is unavailable or, perhaps worse, available but very slow, quickly grows impatient. And a frustrated guest definitely does not lead to a happy customer. It’s up to the technology companies to stay ahead of the curve and anticipate guests’ needs, and up to the hotel companies to implement the technology to be able to cater to those needs and deliver a satisfactory experience.
Throughout this particular issue of Hotel Business, I’ve seen the phrase “pain points” used many times to describe things guests can’t tolerate: waiting, complication and relying on others are just a few. Technology companies and, ultimately, hotel companies, can offer the remedies—seamless, easy, self-service-oriented, integrated and efficient solutions that can help to turn some of those pain points into pleasurable experiences.