Some old world aspects of the hotel stay experience may never change for guests. The discreet recognition of frequent guests at reception, the acknowledgement by the concierge of preferred restaurant bookings, the memory of an interesting cocktail ordered being remembered by the bartender – all are invaluable and irreplaceable. However, with the advent of quicker ways of serving guests, travel technology is at the forefront of driving guest experiences in hotels and resorts. Virtual Reality (VR) and other hidden technology is driving hotel business, surely but unobtrusively.
In order to make the guest experience seamless and pleasant, hotels use technologies that lie hidden from their view but that can serve as strong enablers for hoteliers. In some ways, hotels today have hardly changed from those a hundred years ago. Guests will still walk into a lobby, check in at the reception, dine at the hotel restaurant and ask the concierge for recommendations about activities of interest in the city. Yet hidden from the guests’ view is a web of technologies that facilitate their stay from the moment they book to the moment they leave.
One of the most interesting pieces of technology that is employed is VR. Hotels use the Oculus Go VR set that essentially allows travel agents, meeting planners and guests from around the world to view the rooms and facilities almost as if they were on site. While PowerPoint files and images are all very good, they cannot provide the same immersive experience that true VR can.
Every hotel is unique and all hoteliers will want to show off every nook and cranny to potential guests and travel agents and that is what Oculus Go allows them to do. Meeting planners and travel agents are able to virtually travel throughout the property and view the facilities on offer. This matters because each client or event organiser will have their own requirements from the size and style of rooms, the size of the lobby, number of swimming pools to the shapes and sizes of the meeting rooms.
This new technology has already shown results. There has been an increase in the number of clients visiting the properties after viewing it through the VR headsets; site inspections and contracting have also improved. Clients are not going to spend their time viewing a hotel that they do not think fits the needs of their guests and the Oculus Go headsets allows the hotel’s features to be brought to them first, prior to any decision-making. When they do come and visit, they feel like they are returning to a hotel they have already visited.
Training technology is also critical in the development of a hotel’s offer to clients. Oculus Go is not the only technology that brings results. The staff are trained in language and upselling skills using Boost’s mobile learning solutions. Since hotels started using Boost they have increased upselling revenue by five to eight per cent and have received positive online reviews on the quality of English language skills that their employees possess. This is especially true for Asian hotels where Oriental languages are commonly spoken and often English language skills are a challenge.
This has also generated better relations with clients as they understand that the hotel staff can speak the language of their guests – if their guests are happy then they are happy. Importantly the employees are simply more confident and have acquired new language and upselling skills that they will take with them throughout their careers.
Revenue management is an area that helps hotels in better client relationships, either directly or through the booking agencies. Hotels use LodgIQ as a revenue management tool which provides analysis of anonymous Big Data to extract revenue insights. This allows hotels to manage their room inventory in a much more efficient way. Importantly, it has improved partnerships with travel agents as hotels are able to provide larger numbers of rooms at more flexible price points. Technology does not replace good service, but must be perceived as an enabler. Hotels have to be careful when choosing what technology to employ. Often, technology is at its most efficacious when it is not visible.
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