Imagine a world where you can find, book and pay for your hotel room, check in and out, and access a whole host of local information, services and experiences through a seamlessly integrated mobile application. Imagine lying in your hotel room, changing the scenery on the walls, switching on soothing music and ordering room service – all at the touch of a button on your smart device.
The world of connected and immersive hotels may sound like a dream, but developments in technology are starting to make these types of services a reality. Soon, hotels will be able to connect with their guests through the entire customer journey, not just via mobile devices but through a whole range of touch points, including wearables such as smart watches, self-service kiosks and interactive, digital screens in public areas.
Meeting customer needs and expectations
There is no stopping the mobile revolution. The ‘always-on’ consumer is no longer an anomaly, but fast becoming the norm with a quarter of the world predicted to be using smartphones by 2016, and a third by 2018. Businesses need to respond to the growing consumer demand for real-time interaction and expectation of a digital experience, no matter what industry sector they’re operating in.
This is especially true for the hotel industry, a sector in which customer experience is key. As we approach the summer holiday season, hotels are clamouring to go above and beyond to offer the best customer experience and secure the maximum number of reservations they can. Part of this comes down to being able to interact with guests throughout their entire journey – from the original search right through to post-stay feedback. This enables hotel management to build closer ties with their guests and respond better to their needs, during a season that’s critical to their bottom line.
In response to this desire for increased engagement, hotels are starting to offer greater levels of connectivity and access to their customers. This is where the concept of ‘Connected Hotels’ comes in, bringing together existing technologies and using Worldline’s expertise in the industry to transform the customer experience.
The world of connected hotels
At the core of the connected hotel sits a digital platform that allows customers to engage with the hotel’s facilities and access different services and applications, via any device in their possession. This could be a personal laptop, smartwatch, tablet or even digital displays in public areas.
By combining technologies and connected consumer payments, hotels can offer a seamless experience. This ranges from checking in and out of the hotel room, searching for and booking local services and experiences and offering feedback post-stay. These developments not only enable the consumer’s experience of the hotel to be enhanced, but also offer up new revenue opportunities for the retailers, hotels and restaurants.
This is a truly exciting space for us, and we’re already working with a number of hotels to start making this a reality. However, to further these developments and bring truly connected hotels to fruition, there are still a number of challenges that need to be addressed. I’ll be discussing these in greater detail in an upcoming post, as well as some of the technologies that are already being put to the test.