A recent article in the Wall Street Journal featured a hotel that will soon be using mobile technology to bypass the check-in process. Guests will have the option to check-in through their smartphone and also use their smartphone as their room key.
The benefit of this new check-in and room key innovation is two-fold: the hotel guests will benefit from the pure convenience of it and hoteliers can help maintain a secure property.
However, automated check-in and the ability to use mobile devices as a key to the room is only one aspect of the entire technology stay. This is just one component of what’s possible and what’s going to be expected by guests visiting hotel properties in the future.
There is a tremendous demand by the guests to simplify and enhance their interaction with the hotel. According to a recent HVS London study, more modern hotel guests value experiences and the feeling of “being connected” over traditional hotel luxuries. With this in mind, the future of a connected guest experience does not begin and end with new keyless door entry capabilities.
In fact, the new technologies happening in hotels are also happening across various industries. New mobile capabilities in retail, education and transportation are creating new ways for customers, students and citizens to receive engaging content that can transform their experience. Some examples include:
- Retailers can offer shoppers mobile updates when they are in the store about new products and special sale items.
- College freshman can receive turn-by-turn directions to landmarks, buildings and events – all based on the student’s schedule and current location on campus.
- Travelers can check-in on Facebook to receive updated transportation schedules in real-time.
A Platform for Hoteliers
So how can hoteliers unlock the benefits of mobile experiences for their guests? They must first evaluate the type of platform needed in order to meet changing expectations. For example, many keyless doors rely on Bluetooth, allowing very limited interaction and integration with the door locks. What Bluetooth doesn’t provide is more than just unlocking a door. With the right platform, hoteliers can do more.
A proper infrastructure that can support Wi-Fi is crucial for transforming the guest experience. Already pervasive in nature, this type of flexible platform allows guests and hoteliers to connect and interact in new ways upon check-in. For example:
- Hoteliers can use Wi-Fi to locate where the guest is on-property. If the guest is a certain distance from the guest room they can automatically unlock the room door without necessarily using Bluetooth to communicate with the door.
- Hoteliers can determine when a guest enters the property and identify the user as a specific VIP guest, prompting an immediate and personalized welcome.
- Hoteliers can determine which guest likes to exercise and send them information about where the gym is within the property, the hours of operation, and potential routes for running trails around the property.
The Power of Mobile Intelligence
In addition to these simple ways to provide a more personalized guest experience, a proper infrastructure will unlock multiple views of the guest. One view will be the actual analytics around guest behaviors and what type of patterns they follow, for example, where they dwell within the property, how they move within the property. Hoteliers can determine when to expect larger crowds for lunch and identify patterns for when extra servers will be needed. Another view will provide social analytics data that can intersect with hotel data on guest behaviors. With this capability, hoteliers can determine not only certain peak times for lunch, but also the twenty people that are taking Instagram photos of a popular dessert and flag it as a popular item.
As this information is intersected and more intelligence is built into mobile technologies, hoteliers can create automated rule-based policies to amp-up guest experience. For example, if twenty guests have arrived for lunch during a certain period of time and they are standing at the entrance of a restaurant, hoteliers can automatically send a text message to the manager of that particular restaurant so that additional servers can be called in to work. Or, if a large group is standing at the lobby bar, hoteliers can automatically send a free drink coupon to a few guests. With this type of rule-based behavior, hoteliers can to do a lot more than just provide a very specific narrow service to the guest. It offers an intelligent ability to utilize that same Wi-Fi technology that today is just used primarily for guest access to really create a very unique experience for the guests and to automate certain aspects of the hotel.
Digital Signage and Mobile Apps: Detect and Engage with Guests
Another key component of integrating current capabilities with emerging mobile solutions is the role of digital signage and mobile apps. Imagine that when guests enter a property, they can opt-in to a hotel app that offer a mobile advisor that can be reached immediately via video chat and IM.
While digital signage may simply offer guests a map of the property and the list of all the various meetings that are occurring, a mobile advisor offers guests the ability to communicate in real-time with a virtual front desk. Hoteliers can immediately respond in a mobile video on the app and say, “We’re on our way, what is the challenge? How can we help you?” This ability to detect and engage with the guest over the connected mobile experience platform then can be integrated within a digital sign strategy and app strategy, especially as apps for the hotel become more prevalent, creating a very deep interaction with the guests and a presenting a 360-degree view of the guests.
With a secure and flexible platform, these possibilities are offering hoteliers competitive differentiation and more opportunities to build brand loyalty. In my conversations with hoteliers, many have a different approach and a different focus for reaching guests in new ways that builds over time. At Cisco, our goal is to simply provide the platform that has the flexibility and the ability to provide these kind of experiences for their guests and customers across all types of businesses and organizations.
How can a platform built for Connected Mobile Experiences help your organization foster greater guest experiences? Let me know in the comment section below or join the conversation, follow @Cisco_Mobility on Twitter, #FutureOfMobility.