Hotels should be doing so much more to create a customized experience designed to keep the much-coveted loyal business traveler coming back for more. It’s not just about earning loyalty points anymore. It’s about helping your guests create an experience they can’t get anywhere else – a seamless, customized stay that will make them less likely to go anywhere else. So let’s go on a business trip, and see how much better it can be:
The New Check-in
You’re on the road and just wrapped up the last meeting of the day. Time for some R&R. While your colleagues shuffle out the door, you open your hotel’s app and use it to check in, request a shuttle, choose your room and order room service to be ready when you arrive.
If airlines let us check in 24 hours before we travel, print our ticket, choose our seat and check our flight status, why can’t hotels do the same? Some hotels have already adopted this thinking. Radisson allows guests to check in online up to 24 hours before arrival. Visitors can then scan a bar code at a kiosk in the lobby when they arrive to get their key. The Hyatt Regency Chicago lets guests use a lobby kiosk to choose a room, receive an upgrade and get a key. It’s not quite as good as doing everything on your own device before you arrive, but it’s a step in the right direction.
The New Arrival
As your shuttle pulls up, your room senses your arrival (or rather, your smartphone) and begins to adjust the temperature to your preset preference so that it’s ready by the time you walk in. You skip the counter and go straight to your room, tapping your smartphone on the lock to open it.
With near-field communication (NFC) technology becoming ubiquitous in smartphones (thanks to Apple finally getting on board with the iPhone 6), there’s no reason why hotels can’t throw out those annoying, constantly demagnetizing keys and start using digital keys. Many Starwood locations are doing just that. You simply download the Starwood hotel’s app on your phone, find your room and touch your phone to the lock to enter. No NFC? Just push “unlock” on the app, and the door opens.
The New Room
When you enter your room, your preset preferences kick in automatically – the lights brighten, the curtains open and the digital picture frame on the nightstand shows pictures from your family’s vacation in Cabo. You break out your tablet and sync it to your room to order extra pillows, turn on the TV and queue up your home DVR so you can watch the latest episode of “Game of Thrones” while you eat. At about 10:30 p.m., the lights automatically dim and the temperature lowers, helping you get ready for sleep.
At 6:30 a.m., you wake to gradually increasing light, warmer temperature, drawn curtains and the gentle sound of wind chimes, just the way you like it. The television displays your schedule and lets you know that your return flight is running on time out of gate D20. It also shows that you’ve received two voice messages, eight texts and 12 Twitter notifications.
You get the idea. Everything in your hotel room should remember you. This isn’t a far-fetched notion. In fact, nothing I’ve mentioned in this post is unrealistic. All of the technology exists and is being implemented in homes and businesses all over. The Internet of Things, with smart lights, temperature, TVs and even refrigerators, is something hotels really need to plug into.
Think about it. Besides all that useful digital information you’ll get about guest behavior and preferences, embracing a smarter hotel means your guests will become more rooted in their customized hotel experience, making them less likely to switch to another hotel. It’s a strategy Apple and Android use to keep people from switching operating systems. In any case, it’s simply creating more value than your competitors, which is the real name of the game. It is the only effective way to make your customers want to keep calling your hotel their home away from home.
Brian Havig – Copywriter, gyro New York
Brian is a pure copywriter, energized by finding humanly relevant ideas and relevant insights in the common and everyday. As a senior copywriter at gyro, he’s tasked with creating award-winning work for top brands such as TD Ameritrade Institutional, BlackBerry and Time Inc, while helping to secure new business.
Brian started his career at Syrup, a hip, downtown Manhattan agency, where he found his feet building campaigns for innovative brands GE, PUMA and Newscorp. Brian was then picked up by G2 (now Geometry Global) to create worldwide digital and social campaigns for Campbell Soup Company, Pepperidge Farm, V8, Hertz and CoverGirl.
Brian spends his nights as a stand up comic and his weekends as a street comic, organizing flashmobs and pranks in the streets of New York. He’s originally from Gilbert, Arizona, and is a proud first-time father of a new baby girl.