“Hospitality” in our Industry…is it in danger with advances in technology?

05 Dec 2017 in

Congratulations to #Hyatt for its 60th Anniversary! This milestone made me think back to the days when I worked for Hyatt and what that looked like. We trained our front desk associates to recognize guests by their names each time they approached the front desk. We upgraded VIPs to our Concierge level, whenever we had availability, without them ever having to ask. We had excellent cuisine and exceptional service in our dining rooms so that we could outshine the competition.

I remember visiting my first Select Service hotel conducting a site inspection at a new brand #Hampton Inn that had just opened next to our full-service Hyatt Orlando. At that time, it was certainly not common to offer a complimentary breakfast in the morning and not to have a bellman on the payroll to assist guests at check-in and checkout. This change was in response to the wishes of a new cost-conscious generation that also wanted consistency in the hotels where they stayed, whether for business or pleasure.

We are again in the midst of another sea change with many opportunities due to fast-changing technology such AI, AAI and IOT. Which causes one to ask: where does “Hospitality” fall into the grand scheme of things? 

I choose to call it a “new Hospitality” that we are experiencing. It’s a world where guests expect their wants and wishes to be instantly delivered by hotel staff. A place where guests desire personalization to hand-pick a particular room with a certain view they may have experienced before, and they want it with the convenience of not having to call a hotel or reservations center to speak with an agent. Or perhaps a robot will soon be vacuuming hallways or cleaning rooms and be able to alert engineering about a mold or mildew problem that might be brewing in the drywall.

Yes, some of this innovation can be seen as simply a cost savings for hotels, but it also frees up the hotel staff to spend more one-on-one time with their guests. It allows them to provide guests with an outstanding service experience which can result in a lift in GSS and more positive comments from guests about their stay, thereby increasing the hotel’s online ranking.

For #Marriott, this cultural change means utilizing software such as HYP3R to stay connected with hotel guests who are tweeting about their check-in or Instagramming every aspect of their hotel experience to their friends. This software alerts the team of these social interactions and provides a way for Marriott to request permission to use that user-generated content on their own websites.

The #Hilton brand has enhanced their Hilton HHonors app to allow real-time chats between guests and hotel staff. Guests may request a certain time for their room to be cleaned or can ask directions to the nearest ATM. More enhanced options offered to their members include a “digital room layout” and showing the view from the room’s window via Google Maps. It is all about staying connected to your guests, providing for their desires and serving them accordingly. 

At #IHG, the company is enhancing their IHG Connect system to provide one-to-one marketing, customer-centric shopping, Room & Non-Room Sales, and personalized guest data to be able to cater to guest’s needs.

The use of technology can do much to help us keep the “Hospitality” in our Industry. It’s encouraging to witness how brands are finding unique ways to keep their Loyalty members engaged by enhancing and personalizing the guest experience. In addition, realizing the future buying power of Millennials ($6.2 Trillion by 2020), they are aggressively utilizing social media channels to gain new followers and convert them to loyal members.

It is another exciting chapter in our ever-evolving industry and one we cannot ignore. At the end of the day, the human factor in “Hospitality” is still the pillar of our Industry and will not fade away.

 




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