Thought Leadership

digital guest experience during covid

The concept of a digitalized guest experience is somewhat controversial to many in the hotel industry. After all, the hotel business is unreservedly peoplecentric. Hoteliers must, above all else, make guests feel comfortable. This process — catering to the guest service experiencehas remained largely unchanged for decades. Many hoteliers assume exceptional guest experiences can only be achieved through face-to-face, or rather human-to-human, interactions. The truth is guests don’t stay at hotels to interact with hotel staff (spa hotels may be the exception). Guests stay at hotels because circumstances dictate they cannot stay at their homes. 

Therefore, it’s time to rethink the job of the hotelier. It’s not to overemphasize hotel staff interaction, but to provide a level of comfort at or above the comfort of home. We must adjust our thinking and find new ideas to enhance the hotel guest experience.

The Digitalized Guest Experience: Raise Hotel Service Standards with New Technology

Without question, technology plays a huge role in our everyday lives. In fact, technology is so all-encompassing that it’s often blamed for stifling meaningful human interaction. This concern is not overlooked by those in control of hotel guest service experiences. The idea of a digitalized guest experience is often looked down upon by hoteliers, and consequently, hotels have been notoriously slow to adapt to new technology, believing their priority should be maintaining good guest relationships.

This resistance to technological change has become something of an industry-wide standard. “[We are] Probably one of the last ones, as an industry, to adopt any new technologies,” says Daniel Tennant, General Manager at Aries Living. “Our roots are so deep with antiqued systems.”

Hoteliers need to ask themselves a question: What gives a modern guest comfort? Most people feel somewhat uneasy without their gadgets at their side — smartphones, tablets and computers are all ingrained in our day-to-day activities. If the hospitality industry is founded upon the idea of enhancing the guest service experience, how can they succeed without addressing how digitalized the human experience has become? To best serve guests, hoteliers must invest in ideas and technology that mirror how modern life is lived.

Technology that allows guests to register online, check-in, order room service, etc., doesn’t mean abandoning your guests or creating some sort of impersonal ‘robo-hotel.’ It’s not about replacing, minimizing, or eliminating person-to-person interaction. It’s quite the opposite. The adoption of new technology allows you to provide ‘choice of service’ to your guests. Choice of service means flexibility and control something we can all appreciate. If done correctly, it can help to deliver greater personalization, give a better service experience, and enhance the overall guest perception of the hotel. And, most importantly, your guests now expect it.

The Digitalized Guest Experience: Offering Choice of Service

According to a Deloitte study, more than two-thirds (67%) of hotel guests said they felt most satisfied when empowered with digitalized technology, allowing them to cater their hotel experience to their personal preferences. “There is a new wave of clientele coming through that are used to ordering things online banking, food, everything and anything,” Daniel Tennant continues, “We as an industry need to embrace new technology to service better that new wave of clientele. So often, we feel like we are giving up a level of service by going digital but by giving the guest the choice of how they want to be served I think that is even better service. Choice is really about giving the guest the freedom to interact whether their preference is a face-to-face conversation or in a digital way.”

In today’s landscape, offering choice of service only enhances the guest experience. It doesn’t change the basic values of hospitality. What it does do is enable your staff to continue delivering exceptional service — more efficiently than ever. When guests check in — often tired and worn out —they just want to get to their room. They don’t want to be upsold. Upselling can be handled pre-arrival, when guests are feeling perkier and open to upgrades. This expedited process makes the front desk experience more efficient for both staff and guests. If guests want to check out late, being able to arrange for such a service digitally saves the front desk from having to take an additional phone call, allowing them to continue performing their guest service duties without interruption. 

The number of ways digitalized guest experiences can enhance operations is practically limitless, making hotels more efficient than ever.

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