I checked into a hotel recently and received the familiar key card. When I got in the elevator and pressed the button to my floor, nothing happened. I pressed it again—like when I was waiting for that same elevator and kept pressing the up button over and over again, thinking I was somehow expediting its arrival.
Finally, a couple stepped in and explained what I had overlooked: The sign that instructed me to pass my card across what looked like a shiny hockey puck mounted next to the panel with all the pretty lights. And off we went.
I’m not an infrequent flyer, but this was new to me.
One thing that wasn’t new to me was Wi-Fi. Surprisingly, this hotel, for all its swankiness, failed to make it easy to connect to the Internet in my room. First, go to this website, then type your email address they you gave at registration. Then click over here and type this passcode. And wait.
I want to simply open up my laptop, accept the usual disclaimer and get moving. This hotel’s Wi-Fi was equally disconcerting when I checked out and couldn’t get my Uber ride because of the same convoluted network issue.
Here are the hotel technology trends that are more like “must-haves” if you want to increase guest satisfaction.
User-friendly, fast, and free Wi-Fi is no longer a perk.
Guests are traveling with more technology than ever. An individual can be expected to have a smartphone and at least one other mobile device (e.g., tablet, laptop). If there are two or more people in the room, the number grows exponentially. When those guests have trouble connecting, or the connection is slow because the network can’t handle the volume, you are practically guaranteed to lose a minimum of one star in the review.
J.D. Power’s 2016 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index study reported that free Wi-Fi was among the top three amenities that guests expect, faring better than complimentary breakfast and free parking. Give me fast Wi-Fi over a day-old bagel any day.
Alexa, turn on the air conditioner.
You use her at home. Why not get the convenience of voice-activated systems in your hotel room? The Oracle Hotel 2025 study estimated that guests spend 12 to 15 minutes trying to figure out how to operate the various systems in a room. The study’s results showed that 59% of 702 consumers who were surveyed would like to have a personal digital assistant (e.g., Alexa, Siri, Google Home) control the lighting, air conditioning, and room devices.
Half of those people wanted to use these voice-activated systems to place orders for room services and other hotel services. One-third of the respondents said they would stay at a hotel more often that offered such convenience.
Smarten up your TVs.
Your guests expect a flat-screen television in their rooms. That’s the minimum, and if you don’t meet that criteria, you could lose a star here as well. By upgrading to smart TVs, you will increase your brand’s value in the eyes of the guests. Samsung has a special program to make this upgrade more affordable.
You could really wow your guests by also adding free streaming of Netflix or Hulu. Yes, they’d like that very much.
Your own mobile app.
The average American consumer has 27 apps on his or her smartphone, according to Nielsen (I have 49, so I guess that makes me “above-average”).
Is your hotel’s mobile app one of them?
Consumers want mobile convenience in every aspect of their lives. Travel is no different. Your app can help a hotel guest book a reservation, check in, check out, make purchases, check the restaurant menu, take virtual tours of the property, and schedule services. Give them all of these advantages with a mobile app, and you also make it easy for them to leave you a sparkling review.
These are the basic hotel technology trends you should focus on for your next investments. In the years to come, you’ll probably be looking at facial-recognition and biometrics for hotel security, smart technology throughout the hotel, virtual reality, and robotics. But that’s for another day.
What technology do you look for during your hotel stay? Share with us on Twitter @LTronCorp.