The 2010s has been a revolutionary decade for many service sectors, not least the hospitality industry, one which has benefitted enormously from the creation and development of astounding new technologies. In previous times, hotels fulfilled a function, namely to provide accommodation for guests staying in a specific location. Today, guests expect a lot more from hotels than to merely put them up for the night. We have entered the era of personalisation, one where people want to have the last word in all aspects of their hotel stay.
With 2020 a mere 10 months way, let’s look at some of the contemporary expectations that hotel guests are seeking, with visual accompaniment in the form of an infographic from The Europe Hotel & Resort in Killarney, Ireland.
Hotel guests do not want off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all packages. They have come to expect a significant degree of personalisation with almost every aspect of their stay, whether it’s the size of their bed, the aspect of their room windows, or the theme of the dinner menu. Indeed, some guests will even wish to arrange a bespoke itinerary with the hotel – for instance, they might ask for a gourmet meal on the first night of their stay, a luxurious spa treatment on day two and a game of golf the following day. To reflect the increasing demand for customisation, many luxury hotels are now updating their booking systems to allow for guests to tailor everything about their stay.
Monetisation of guest reviews
One aspect of the hospitality industry which has grown exponentially in in recent years is the significance attached to guest reviews and feedback. When people are searching online for accommodation in a certain city or region, they will invariably gravitate towards those with the most favourable reviews. Platforms such as Kayak and TripAdvisor provide a platform for unbiased, honest feedback, so people will generally trust these readily.
The importance of impartial guest feedback has not been lost on hospitality providers, who know that a tidal wave of negative publicity on social media could have disastrous consequences. For that reason, some hotels have begun to monetise guest reviews by offering to pay guests for leaving positive reviews on independent outlets. This is a win-win for all concerned; the guest receives a payment for taking a few minutes to reflect on a positive experience they had, and the hotel stands to recoup the commission costs of this activity several times over in terms of increased business.
Provision for instant feedback
We live in an era where people want things instantly; thankfully Google has most of the answers. Among the things that people wish to do instantly in 2019 and 2020 is to share their opinions online. That’s why platforms such as Twitter have thrived. If a hotel guest has strong views about the place where they are staying, they’re not going to keep those opinions to themselves until checkout time. They’ll let people know about it straight away.
Some hotels have begun capturing ‘mood snaps’, which is facilitated through intelligent technology that can gauge the mood of guests and deliver its findings back to the hotel’s guest satisfaction index. The general manager of the hotel can instantly see how guests are feeling and promptly investigate the reasons why, enabling him/her to address guest dissatisfaction quickly and appropriately.
Centralised guest ID
The pet peeve of many hotel guests is the requirement to carry multiple forms of identification when checking in. Hotels are beginning to recognise this through the introduction of a single virtual fingerprint which serves as a guest’s ID and includes their transaction history and travel preferences. While this might seem like a dangerous amount of data for customers to give away, they have the autonomy to make specific layers of information available to other entities on a need-to-know basis.
24/7 human assistance
All this new technology and automation is great, but when things go amiss, guests ultimately want to talk to a human who can empathise with their problem and provide an appropriate solution. An omnipresent service line combines the human and technological elements to deliver an effective response to queries at any time – even if a member of staff can’t be reached physically, someone will be available remotely to help with the guest’s query.
When you book a plane or train ticket, you’re given the choice of where to sit. The same applies to a lot of newer cinemas as well. It’s a level of customisation that’s also being adopted by a growing number of hotels. Instead of guests simply being assigned to any available room that meets the booking criteria, they are presented with the option of choosing which room to take, based on factors such as location and size.
It isn’t just the characteristics of the room that will be at the guest’s discretion, either. They will also have the freedom to control the lighting and air conditioning from automation apps on their smartphone, along with other nanotechnological features.
Increased guest input into menu selection
For many guests, one of the main attractions of a hotel is its quality and choice of fine dining. Some guests would baulk at being restricted to the offering on the hotel’s standard menu, which is why they are now being afforded the opportunity to make their own gastronomic arrangements. If there’s a certain foodstuff or recipe that a guest wants implemented, they can suggest it to the head chef, who will then arrange it accordingly.
Some luxury hotels have now adapted ‘intelligent menus’ that provide full scope to foodie guests who are given free rein to suggest any ingredients and preferences that they want to eat during their stay. These menus can also be customised to reflect a guests’ tastes and dietary requirements, particularly for repeat guests who have stayed at the hotel previously. This customisation can extend to the arranging of mealtimes outside of the traditional windows. If a guest doesn’t want to be restricted to having breakfast before 11am, they can choose a time that suits and the delicacies will be provided at their requested time.