A memorable hotel stay is more than just a comfortable bed and clean sheets.
Building loyalty in today’s price-competitive hotel market is extremely difficult and cutting prices is just not the answer.
However, providing guests with a more fun and interactive experience can get them to remember your hotel over the others.
People love telling friends and family about cutting-edge technologies, so by incorporating the latest into your guest experiences you not only create a buzz around your hotel but can also help increase bookings.
There are several technologies that have been introduced in hotels in recent years that have dramatically changed guest interactions. These technologies are utilized to enhance the guest experience by making it fun and interactive throughout various aspects of the guests’ stay.
Here are 5 ways hotels are making their guest experience more interactive.
1) Self-Service Kiosks
Technology itself is useless unless it can provide a better experience for guests. This is definitely true for hotel self-service kiosks.
Interactive kiosks have come a long way since their inception in 1977 when they were developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The kiosk was designed to provide campus information to students and faculty.
Since then, there has been wide adoption of kiosks used by many types of businesses for various things such as ticketing, information directory, photo printing, and more recently product vending like Redbox video rentals and Best Buy vending kiosks that you may have come across at airports.
In the hotel world, kiosks are most commonly used for guests to check-in and checkout without the need to call or stand in long lines. This provides guests with faster service while helping staff to attend to guests with more complicated issues. It’s a win-win for everyone.
However, with advancements in mobile technology, the traditional kiosk has been upgraded to provide more service for guests.
For example, several Hilton hotels have leveraged iPads as a self-service kiosk for guests to request taxis.
This implementation proved to be a great time and resource saver for Hilton as they reported that it dramatically cut down on the time needed for guests to request taxis while providing cost savings for the taxi company.
Another example of taking the kiosk idea to the next level is the Renaissance New York Midtown Hotel.
This hotel has redefined the word “upscale” not only with their design and décor but also with technology.
The Renaissance New York Midtown Hotel created a large digital “living wall” by the main entrance that interacted with guests as they walk by it.
This interactive wall serves as a digital guide service for guests as well as curating and displaying current events. The wall also showcases restaurants and shops within and near the hotel.
To get a sense of how it works, watch this video below.
2) Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality (VR & AR)
There has always been a great deal of interest when it comes to virtual and augmented reality.
Although VR and AR technologies have been most popular in the gaming and entertainment industry, hotels have also started to use this technology to drive various experiences for their guests including virtual room tours as well as showcasing nearby attractions.
Although VR and AR usage in hotels is still in the early stages, there are some hotels that are taking the lead in creating virtual experiences.
For example, The Marriott Hotel used VR to teleport just-married couples outside of New York City Hall to various exotic locations through their 4D virtual reality stations.
This smart marketing tactic virtually brought couples to different locations, enticing them to book a honeymoon, of course with Marriott in mind.
What about augmented reality (AR)?
Augmented Reality is slightly different from Virtual Reality in that AR incorporates digital elements within your existing environment, whereas VR takes you to a completely different place.
An example of a hotel using augmented reality is the Best Western Kelowna, as they have created a way for kids to have fun out and around the hotel property by integrating animals and sea life experiences that the kids can interact with.
This experience not only adds a fun factor to the hotel stay but also gets kids outdoors and exploring.
Watch the video to see what I mean.
Bringing VR and AR experience not only make the stay more fun, it can also help to attract a younger generation of guests for years to come.
3) Interactive Smart Rooms
Hotel rooms are constantly changing based on guest expectations and emerging technology that people are used to at home.
This all started with the idea of a “smart home”, where you can control almost every aspect of your house including turning lights on and off, opening your garage door, or even setting room temperatures with a touch of a mobile device.
More and more hotels have leveraged this trend and adapted their hotel rooms to make them smarter as well.
For example, Hilton is experimenting with the idea of “smart rooms”, where the in-room experience is personalized specifically for you.
“Imagine a world where the room knows you, and you know your room,” said Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta.
The idea behind it is that, through their mobile app, Hilton wants to enable guests to set their room preferences for things such as lighting, temperature, and even favorite beverages, all before the guest enters their room.
Here is an example.
Another new technology that’s being used in hotel rooms today is the Amazon Alexa and voice technology.
One of the leading hotel voice technology providers, Volara, has partnered with many hotels including The Westin and is already seeing great adoption of voice technology from guests.
From personal greetings to service requests and restaurant recommendations, Volara powers Amazon Alexa devices in hotels with a seamless voice-based experience for guests that make it faster and easier to get the things they need.
One more interesting example of an interactive smart room is Starwood Hotel’s “smart mirrors”.
With this smart mirror, guests can simply touch the surface to get instant information on weather, news, sports scores as well as the ability to connect with Bluetooth to show your latest Twitter feed.
As hotel rooms get “smarter”, the important thing to ask is: does all of this technology enhance the guest experience, or is it simply a gimmick?
We may be several years away from an iRobot like experience where hotels are completely run by robots. However, Yotel Boston has already “hired” robot butlers to serve their guests. And the best part is that you don’t need to tip them!
This powerful robot butler does more than just deliver items to your room. YO2D2 is equipped with an abundance of energy for greeting guests upon arrival. You can even catch YO2D2 enjoying some music and dancing at the club lounge and rooftop bar.
"YO2D2 isn’t just for show", as the General Manager of Yotel states, “At YOTEL, we don’t just do technology for technology’s sake, it needs to be functional, first and foremost. Since YO2D2 was introduced, our guests have been fascinated and entertained by the robot, but more importantly, it’s expediting the delivery of linens, extra towels, and retail items to their cabins and freeing up our crew to assist guests with anything else they might need.”
Check out YO2D2 in action.
5) Chatbots & Messaging
Leveraging technology to improve guest services and response times is always a high priority for hotels.
Popular technologies like chatbots and text messaging have made their way into hotels for staff to communicate with guests. And it makes sense.
Since most hotel guests are usually out and about sightseeing or lounging by the pool, the only device they would usually have on hand are their phones. With text messaging being so instant and convenient, enabling guests to request services via text has proven to improve guest satisfaction.
Guests are even raving about it in their TripAdvisor reviews!
While many hotels are leveraging chatbots and text messaging for guest requests, The Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas took it to another level.
The team at The Cosmopolitan created a persona called “Rose” that embodied the style and tone of the hotel.
Not only does Rose serve as a personal assistant to guests, Rose also comes with a personality of her own and interacts with guests to promote the hotel’s on-site amenities in a fun and interactive way.
Rose has proven to be more than just a chatbot, as The Cosmopolitan saw an increase of 38% in spending for guests that interact with Rose vs. those who don’t. This is a prime example of boosting revenue by improving the customer experience.
In summary, there are many ways to add some fun and interactive elements to your guest experience to make it more exciting and memorable. However, don’t add technology for the sake of adding technology. Start by looking at processes that can be improved within your hotel, then see how technology can be leveraged to make it better.
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