Hospitality Industry Success is Technology-Enabled
Hospitality Industry Success is Technology-Enabled
Written By: Lyle Bunn
The focus was on customer experience during the annual hospitality industry technology exposition and conference (HITEC) in Toronto June 2017. Reservation systems, guest connectivity, visual media and analytics were at the top of the priority list toward increased guest satisfaction and business success.
New technologies are seen as key to helping hotel and hospitality facilities attract and meet the growing demands of the empowered consumer.
The experience journey in hospitality that includes dream, plan, book, travel and share is somewhat similar to the product purchase in retail in which consumers discover, compare, reserve, try, buy and share, so it is no coincidence that hospitality and retail are examining similar customer experience solutions.
Kurt Weinsheimer, SVP, Property Solutions at Sojern said during a conference session on technology disruption "Hospitality has undergone the same kinds of changes in price transparency and consumer sourcing options that retailers are experiencing."
"We should not be schizophrenic about customer self-service such as cell phone as room key, as there is still plenty of room for service in the hospitality industry" said one hospitality insider who had attended the conference in each of more than twenty years of its annual operation.
Brian Clark, Partner at Hudson Crossing advised hospitality providers to "identify those technologies that meet consumer demands, including mobile and ease of payments that solve time and convenience expectations, and personalization capabilities that use CRM data to deliver relevant, informed offers". His advice applies to a range of technologies.
Connectivity is at the top of the guest requirements list. "We understand that fast and reliable Wi-Fi is at the top of the list of services for hotel guests," said Matthew FitzGerald, Director of Hospitality Sales Engineering at Ruckus. "As guests bring more and more devices that connect to the Wi-Fi network and the number of applications, such as TV casting increase, the demands on the Wi-Fi network will also increase. Multi-gigabit Wi-Fi is an ideal solution that will help hotels meet the increased network demands these devices and applications place on the network."
"Seamless does not exist," said Rob Miller of CCI Systems, noting, "It is about the quality and elegance of the tailoring as elements are integrated. Fitzgerald 2 added, "Transparency in end user access is the key issue, whether it is cellular, Wi-Fi, LTE, or radio frequencies that are emerging in the consumer telecom spectrum".
Text to guest was a subject of many discussions. Jennifer Green of Hyatt said, "All communications must be undertaken with the intention of caring for the guest. Text messages provide an excellent forum to capture sentiment based on key words that are used.
Raman (R.P.) Rama, VP & CTO/CIO at JHM Hotels added, "Text messaging is the next wave of customer experience. Call centers do not improve CX when scripts are inadequate or there is no ability to provide service outside the prescribed frame of response. Text messages are considered more like telephone conversations than emails by consumers, and every message and interaction presents the personality of the brand, so digital engagement has to have rules and principles just as other interactions and communications do. Text messages should be as courteous, contextually relevant and as person as possible. Texting tends to be a more personal type of communications, so the operator has to use full words, correct spelling and be aware that a permanent record of the interaction is being established, and may be used against the facility."
Analytics were also top of mind for delegates. Brian Clark of the hospitality consultancy Hudson Crossing declared "Data is providing advantage to some and leaving others in the dust. Those who use data to gain advantage are in a position to make offers based on a predicted outcome".
Brent McKay, the CEO and Founder of Bulzi Media Inc. is bringing extraordinary levels of customer awareness with focus on the hospitality sector. "By merging robust consumer datasets with our mobile intelligence platform we can tell operators much, much more than they currently know about their customers, and this can enable highly targeted ad campaigns, customized offers and mobile marketing."
Providers of visual media were prominent at HITEC Toronto.
"As the industry leader in hotel TVs, LG is pleased to showcase our latest innovations at HITEC 2017. In keeping with the proliferation of high quality images, Ultra HD content and innovative design within the TV industry, LG's latest hotel TVs enable hoteliers to provide guests the state-of-the-art viewing experiences they've become accustomed to in their homes," said Garry Wicka, head of marketing at LG Electronics USA Business Solutions. "Seamless guest experiences are a priority to LG, which is why our latest 4K hotel TVs feature LG's Pro:Centric and Pro:Idiom content management systems, as well as LG's webOS smart TV platform so that scanning content and questing service applications is as easy as the click of a button.