For hotels, connectivity is now as basic a need as hot water or clean sheets. You need to have a foundation to support end-to-end systems and ensure operational effectiveness, plus the capability to delight guests with the high-speed connectivity and entertainment they’ve come to expect at home and at work.
Digital transformation is overtaking the hospitality industry, but it can be difficult to understand where to start. Many hotels have taken a piecemeal approach with single point solutions, which can solve problems in the interim, but can hamper holistic, strategic progress.
Connecting the digital dots in your hotel properties means having the right network, the fastest speeds and always-on connectivity to give your guests what they expect with no lags or limitations to their family back home, to their work, and whatever else matters to them. It also means you can do all of this while keeping your operations moving without any interruptions and with smart insights at a glance.
So what does a completely connected hotel look like—from the front desk, to the guest room, to back-end operations? Let’s take a tour:
The last thing a guest wants to see after a long flight and a taxi ride to your hotel is a line at registration. Aside from booking the actual room, check-in is likely the first time a guest is interacting with your hotel and that moment can set the tone for the rest of their stay.
In a truly connected hotel, wait times are a thing of the past. Guests are empowered to check in in the way they prefer. Mobile check-in and keyless entry allows a fast and easy option, but guests with questions, or those who simply prefer to speak with a real person, can still go to the front desk, which is more likely to be less crowded.
Connecting your front desk to back-office systems and analytics capabilities also allows you to staff accordingly, reducing staff during light periods and using predictive analytics to anticipate surges and peaks.
New technologies open up a wealth of possibilities for concierge services, allowing guests instant access to the community around them. Chatbots and virtual assistants can offer personalized concierge services, learning guest preferences through past interactions, booking information, online postings, and more. Cognitive technology can supplement and enhance in-person interactions, eliminate repetitive tasks, and create new opportunities for both the front desk and operations.
Providing an “at-home” experience for your guests is extremely important, but it’s really only the beginning. Guest room experience is increasingly dictated by the guest—either explicitly or implicitly. Guest autonomy—giving guests control over their experience and how they interact (or don’t interact) with your hotel—is the key to effective guest CX. And providing them with the tools to control their own stay requires the underpinning of a robust and capable network.
Smart technology takes away the pain points of fiddling with a thermostat or finding light switches in the dark. Voice technology or mobile apps allows guests to control lights, shades, temperature, and other preferences with just the sound of their voice or the swipe of a finger.
Even better, what if room settings were already specified to each guest’s exact preferences when they walked through the door? By analyzing previous stays or even just giving guests the option to preset preferences ahead of time, hotels can ensure that guests feel welcomed with a personalized experience the moment they step into their room.
A guest’s stay in their room isn’t confined to those four walls, of course. Guests need connectivity to the outside world—to home, to work, to dynamic entertainment, and to the local community. Business travelers can’t slow down when they are on the road, so end-to-end connectivity ensures they’re able to stream presentations, video conference, and virtually collaborate with colleagues, all from the comfort of their guest room.
Making sure that you have lightning-fast, managed WiFi that can handle all of your guests and their devices, without impacting back-office connectivity, is an imperative.
While connectivity holds exciting possibilities to improve guest experience, the change can be even more profound for back-office and operational functions. The Internet of Things, cognitive technology, analytics, and mobile technology can increase productivity, unearth new sources of revenue, increase guest loyalty, and uncover new insights.
The personalization of the guest experience isn’t just built on data—it also uncovers new opportunities to collect and utilize customer information. Guests leave a trail of data crumbs everywhere they go in a hotel —in-room preferences, onsite shopping and dining transactions, check-in interactions, even data around guest traffic patterns can be used not only to provide personalized experiences to individual guests, but also to recognize patterns and inform strategy. When you have visibility into guest data, you can open up new revenue opportunities by serving up special offers to individual guests at the exact right time, based on previously observed behavior.
By leveraging cognitive computing and predictive analytics, hotels can eliminate repetitive tasks, enhance human interactions with contextual information, and make staffing and pricing changes based on internal and external data like the weather, events, and occupancy trends.
The Internet of Things has a natural home in the hotel industry. Voice-enabled TV remotes, connected in-room panels to control temperature, lighting, and more, and “smart” minibars that tell room service when it’s time to refill the ginger ale all enhance the guest experience and boost guest autonomy, but also streamline operations and build customer data.
Even if you achieve end-to-end connectivity, managing it, especially if it’s stitched together through disparate point solutions, can be a challenge. Without a single connectivity partner, hotels are forced to adapt to systems that don’t communicate with each other, or undergo costly and intensive integration projects to get everything on the same plane.
Most stores and restaurants are hamstrung by the fact that they have no idea who is walking in their doors. Businesses inside hotels are put at a huge advantage because they already have potential access to the customer data of most of their patrons. Unifying onsite businesses under the same network umbrella opens up myriad opportunities for efficiency.
One hotel, for example, used geolocation data, paired with predictive analytics to, determine from historical data that a particular guest enjoys a coffee in the morning, and serve him a coupon just as he walks by the coffee shop in the hotel. Chatbots or virtual assistants can also knock down barriers between guests and onsite amenities—a guest merely needs to speak to a voice-enabled device or pull up a mobile app to make a spa appointment or restaurant reservation.
Especially with the proliferation of cloud-based property management solutions, the potential to unite the many dimensions of connectivity across a hotel have never been greater, but hotels need to do it in a way that is cost-effective and comprehensive. Manually patching together disparate solutions might be a good short-term solution, but for true end-to-end connectivity, forward leaning hotels are partnering with a single provider to ensure consistency, ease of use, and scalability. Comcast Business’s comprehensive suite of solutions for the hospitality industry ensures that hotels can make connections across their brands and properties, between the front and back of house, and most importantly, to their guests. To learn more, click here.