The Role of Technology in Personalizing Guest Stays

The Kahala Hotel & Resort

You can talk to your phone, interact with your appliances, change mood lighting in your living room, even engage with your TV. So why can’t we find the comforts of home – and the technology available there – in our hotel experiences?

The short answer is hotels are getting there. The long answer – and long game – is understanding what technologies best serve guests who may dramatically different comfort levels with technology, or even a desire to experience such tech while traveling. And these are big questions and areas of opportunity that the hotel industry is starting to explore and, in some cases, implement.

Like many companies and brands, hotel groups are learning to extend the guest experience beyond just the actual stay. While travelers may remember a great bed, amazing view or attentive service, hotels are delivering pre- and post-stay experiences to enhance the hotel booking and drive brand loyalty. Apps, for example, allow hoteliers the opportunity to provide an elevated level of personalization to their guests like never before.

Guests can indicate room preferences, earn loyalty points, then receive a confirmation via text. Upon arrival, the same app generates a room number (or gives a guest the ability to choose a specific room) and allows guests to completely skip the front desk, use a keypad-powered elevator system to take them directly to their floor, then open their room door all from a smartphone or Apple Watch.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Hotel technology is becoming even more robust. For example, the Aloft Boston Seaport offers the world’s smartest hotel room, giving guests entirely new ways to interact with their room by simply saying: “Hey Siri.” Each voice-activated room is equipped with an iPad running a custom app with HomeKit-enabled accessories used for controlling the in-room guest experience such as room temperature, lighting options and more.

Because of technology, guests can enter a voice-activated room on the top floor, away from the elevator with de-feathered pillows and duvet (if they indicated on the app) and see a personalized welcome message on the TV screen instructing a guest to launch the app on the in-room iPad and set up their room using their own voice.

In the world of the always-on traveler, personalizing guest stays isn’t just an option, it’s a differentiating factor they consider when booking vacations or selecting a hotel for business. It’s no longer about things, but about experiences.

It could be something as simple as a business traveler not wanting to use traditional check-in methods or a fitness-oriented guest who wants New Balance gear in their room upon arrival. Technology now gives hoteliers these insights and provides another avenue of communication with guests before their stay.

Experiential travel has become the norm across other segments of the hospitality industry; now, hotels are participating, and it begins with personalization.

Personalization starts long before guests walk through the front door. Travelers have different trip personas that vary based on the type of trip and with whom they’re traveling. For example, the SPG Weekends website invites guests to take the “epic weekend personality quiz” to help determine the best countries, cities and neighborhoods to visit based on traveler preferences. The channel offers city guides such as “48 hours in Boston” and “The Top Ten Instagrammable Sights in Old San Juan,” along with travel tips and sections featuring information about arts & entertainment, health & wellness, romantic getaways, kids & family, and more.

Once they choose their destination and hotel, social media savvy guests typically connect with hotels on their favorite platform,  giving hoteliers another opportunity to personalize their stay.

For example, the team at the Westin Boston Waterfront curates personalized itineraries and shares insider tips about local hot spots. By discovering what guests share on their personal social media profiles or blogs, hoteliers are able to tailor experiences based on interests and know what to avoid based on dislikes.

The personal connections hoteliers and hotel staff can make with guests not only enhances their experience but also that of the team. Whether connecting through snail mail or via social media, the goal is to deliver exceptional service.

Technology has forever changed the way we live, work and communicate. It allows us to reach a deeper level of connection if we seek it. For hotels, the focus has shifted from delivering a product to providing inspiration, personalization, and experiences that give travelers a new way to understand our world.

Sometimes that connection starts with an app or saying hello to your guest room.

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