There are countless factors when it comes to remaining relevant in the hospitality world, however, very few are as crucial as innovation is to make the cut amongst the beloved brands of that world. Nowadays, it is known that guests are willing to pay more for hotels that show greater innovative activity.
Technology, in particular, is a great enabler and has the power to fundamentally change the nature of guest experiences by removing some of the friction points that are inherent in the guest journey.
A new era of transactional conveniences
Examples of such innovations are phone-as-key-cards, mobile self-check-in or self-service check-in kiosks (avoiding long lines at counters), guest device connectivity tools, wearable devices to identify guests, tablet menus and table reservation systems – just to name a few!
Some of these innovations may take place in the frontline of a service where customers observe the innovation or they may operate in the backend and be “invisible to consumer”, but the resulting ease is certainly appreciated.
A delicate balance
However, the “wow effect” of new technologies is usually short-lived, as guests become accustomed to it very quickly. While advances in technology help remove friction points, it is also important to ensure that the interaction leads to positive emotional links with the guests. The real difference is made by the people, who have the ability to ‘wow’ guests time and time again – with their warm, attentive, personalized, solution-oriented approach. Technology can never replace humans in this context.
The challenge remains in identifying how to excel in both areas simultaneously; ensuring to draw on the capabilities of technology whilst keeping the warm, personalized touch of human service.
The timelessness of the human touch
In order to maintain this balance, it is useful to differentiate between transactions – the different touch points in the guest journey – and the services which are provided by humans. Excelling at services creates guests’ delight while innovative transactions smooth the experience and curve dissatisfactions. Services enrich the guest journey, provide memorable moments and creates an emotional connection.
There are great opportunities to become innovative while still retaining the personalized touch that’s so coveted by today’s selective traveler. It’s all about remaining insightful and proactive towards the changing needs of your guests, as roles in hotels will become increasingly less specialized. The sensible details – such as making sure your guests have access to the most luxurious bathrobes and warm towels – will always hit the right note!