Travelers, regardless if the excursion is for the purpose of business or pleasure, now demand the best experience possible. But how as hoteliers do we know what makes for a truly stellar customer experience? Long gone are the days of wowing guests with a mint on the pillow or a personalized welcome note. To maintain and gain customer loyalty, it is vital to focus on customer experience satisfaction. Customers expect far more than they did ten years ago….or even one year ago.
Customer loyalty programs are effective at bringing in more business, yet to stay competitive hotels must never be satisfied with the status quo and have to continually strive to take their customer experiences to the next level. Expectations continue to rise, and in this article we explore five examples of stellar hotel customer experiences.
1. Set Preferences in App Before Arriving
When traveling and anticipating your arrival at your hotel, one often thinks about where and how you are going to eat when you finally arrive. Hilton now empowers its guests to order meals in advance of their arrival, thereby avoiding the need to venture out in search of an open restaurant, or worse, a quickie-mart, as soon as they walk into the hotel’s lobby. The guest’s order is already waiting, saving them time and energy and allowing the hotel’s customers to be more productive, as well as allowing for time to relax after a long trip. And mobile apps continue to innovate, and now offer even more convenience and personalization, such as the ability to track room service orders so the guest knows exactly when their food will arrive, giving them further freedom to clean-up, unpack or do other personal tasks they otherwise would not want interrupted by a room service knock at the door.
And mobile apps continue to innovate, and are now offering even more convenience and personalization, such as the ability to track room service orders so the guest knows exactly when their food will arrive, given them further freedom to clean-up, unpack or do other personal tasks they otherwise would not want to be interrupted by a room service knock at the door .
2. In Room Robotic Bartender
It is a ubiquitous fantasy seen in Sci-Fi movies ranging from Star Trek to Passengers -- your personal robotic bartender in your hotel room. Yet this fantasy is not only a reality today, it is becoming the aspirational amenity for high-end resorts and hotel chains. While most hotel guests may not want the ordeal of going out for a drink just after disembarking from a long flight, a nice cocktail is exactly what many of your guests most desire to help relax while they upack and unwind in their new room. Having a favorite cocktail after a long flight helps ease some of the stresses of travel regardless if for business or pleasure.
And these robotic bartenders are easy to use. Hotels create (often locally curated) menus and prefill the cocktail robot with their selected ingredients, so your guest only needs to press a single button and a professionally crafted cocktail is poured in ten seconds. The convenience and speed of in-room robotic bartending is the newest “must-have” for an extraordinary and memorable customer experience. Whether having a romantic evening or simply winding down after a busy day of work, the robotic bartender is a perfect addition to any hotel room or suite.
One hospitality haven that always does a great job with customer service is Disney in Orlando, Florida. Disney understands the importance of improving their ability to serve their customers, and one of the latest and greatest customer service additions is the MagicBand. This band is the ultimate in smart technology and allows users to free themselves from clunky room keys and credit cards.
Disney’s MagicBand allows you to choose your preferred attractions, dining locations and even rides that are ready and scheduled for you prior to your arrival at the theme park. The wristband goes a step further and even calculates the best logistical approach to get to each of your selected points of interest and attractions. You also use the wristbands as your room key and link to your payment option for purchases in the park. A short time before you leave for your trip, you will receive your wristband in the mail and be ready for entry when you arrive at the “Happiest Place on Earth.”
4. Holographic Concierge
At Aloft Hotels, you will be met with a holographic concierge where you will learn about local business offers and other helpful information. You can use your smartphone to download information that you would like to use and proceed to your room after seeing available specials and offers. Since you are not interacting with a human and there is no pressure, guests are more comfortable hearing offers as they feel little stress in rejecting any proposals.
5. Synchronizing Social Media & Wristbands
Everyone loves sharing pictures and glamour shots of their trips on social media, but it is not always convenient to be selecting and uploading images from your phone when you are having fun on your trip. If you’re at the Ushuaia Ibiza, you don’t have to worry about posting on Facebook. Their special wristbands will sync with your Facebook and automatically post pictures of you to your newsfeed.
6. Digital Assistants in the Room
From Amazon’s Alexa to Google Home, Hotel guests have become accustomed to, and sometimes even reliant upon, their digital assistants. So much so that many people find it difficult to go a single day without their digital assistants, and travel makes it challenging to maintain a consistent experience.
Hotels now understand how important these digital assistants are and are helping guests have the same digital assistant experience in their hotel room, whether by having in room devices or allowing for simplified connection to the Hotel’s WiFi for the guest’s portable assistant they may bring with them during travel.
7. Near-Field Communication & Bluetooth
Using near-field communication and Bluetooth, Hotels can track guests’ location closely (after gaining their consent, of course!). Tracking is usually done through a bracelet or phone, and guest tracking is helpful when allocating resources (both in terms of human capital and inventory) so that busier areas receive more resources than areas that are less popular .
Customer service and guest experiences are one of the top factors Hotel guests consider when deciding if they would like to return to a specific property or become loyal to a specific chain. As such, both individual Hotels and entire Hotel brands are making large investments to ensure that they are on the cutting edge of technology. Many offer rewards programs with special perks for high levels of usage as well as other highly personalized offers based upon guest history and preferences.
Across the hospitality industry, the experiences outlined above coupled with exceptional customer service will become the new normal for the winning Hotels and Hotel brands, and getting ahead of the curve with automation will provide a critical advantage over your competition. The leaders in customer experience and upgrades will always equate to more social shares and powerful publicity that, being both organic and genuine, will be far more impactful than any traditional marketing campaign.