Creating a Connected Guest Experience? Don’t Fall Behind

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Some lucky hotel guests can now get room service by simply dictating their order out loud. Or ask to have the temperature raised or lowered. And if they say, “Going to sleep,” the shades will be drawn and the lights turned out.

A new article in Fast Company describes how Intercontinental Hotel Group is piloting AI-powered digital assistants in a few locations, with plans to expand. Other hotels are experimenting with advanced technologies such as facial recognition technology to facilitate check-in.

While many of us have grown accustomed to Siri and Alexa speakers and Nest thermostats in our homes, businesses in a variety of industries are increasingly applying smart tools to their customer experience strategy. The inevitable dynamic is towards seamless ease of use. Today’s competitive pressure is to make apps simple to download and access. Meanwhile, forward-looking companies like IHG are asking, Why does the guest need an app at all, when they can just talk to their room?

That said, any business seeking to create a truly digital customer experience needs to temper aspirational goals with practical requirements. For hotels, that means ensuring an integrated operational platform. In many instances today, the basic task of managing reservation data is complicated by disconnected systems and platforms and discrete and isolated technology towers. This makes it difficult to access accounts and loyalty points. Application changes, upgrades and modifications, moreover, can cause downstream service issues such as account lock-outs and website slowdowns.

The takeaway: while pursuing transformational change in the customer experience, hotels need to maintain focus on the operational basics needed to support innovation.

Another consideration is the looming role of 5G in the hospitality industry. The anticipated widespread availability of 5G bandwidth within the next two years will enable a leapfrogging of capabilities around the customer experience. To prepare for this sea change, hotel chains should be defining an application development strategy that anticipates the power of 5G. This will help them fully leverage the technology when it becomes available, rather than playing catch-up.

For more on this topic, read the Softtek white paper: Keep it Simple: Creating a Connected Guest Experience Starts with the Basics