During 2020 loyal guests have doubled their value to the establishment they frequent. The lifespan of a guest’s loyalty is at the foundation of revenue optimization strategies, which is why during a travel drought such guests increase their value exponentially.
What keeps a guest loyal is a topic of debate which never dies down. The circumstances of hospitality change so rapidly and with greater frequency than ever before so keeping track of what appeals to guests and what goes too far can often become indistinguishable from one another.
With the rapid digitalisation of the marketplace, hospitality experts keep coming back to the issue of the place of technology in hospitality. How much technological advancement is too much? Has hospitality lost its sincere and human touch in favour of a sort of conveyor-belt assembly routine? And most of all, is this what guests really want from their hotel experience?
At the core of such questions lies a deeply seated doubt, that one of the oldest and most personable industries in the history of human civilization, can be reshaped to exclude people altogether. That is a bit far fetched, as statements go, but considering that hospitality is an industry of traditions, it can be understandable if hoteliers push back on such changes.
Nevertheless, the ones who will determine if and how much technological advancement hospitality can take are the people who use the services. There is a growing industry concern, that among the more technologically-savvy hoteliers, many do not understand that technological advancements are not intended to replace human hospitality, but rather to supplement it.
Hotel technology has provided yet another point of comparison between competitors which is why some hoteliers implement changes in a haphazard way with very little concern of how this affects the overall guest experience.
Read more: Guide to Innovative Hotel Loyalty Programs
Imagine a guest who is trying to book a room with your hotel, but something in their travel plans has changed and they now need to bring along a pet.
They check your policies but due to a lack of foresight, there is no mention as to whether you are a pet-friendly hotel, so they seek out contact with your staff. They use Facebook Messenger to ask their question but the chatbot does not have a standard reply on standby, and they now need to call your staff directly. And it just so happens that no one from your personnel is at the reception at the moment.
Despite having numerous avenues through which to contact your establishment the guest is left with an unresolved issue which could jeopardize their whole trip.
Guest loyalty is time-sensitive. While most guests embrace any technological advancements at their disposal wholeheartedly, when faced with incoherent actualization of said technologies the guests can become frustrated and even choose to cancel and book with someone else instead.
And some of these guests will walk away with not just an unpleasant impression from your hotel but the technology as well. These tend to be the frustrated guests who type to your hotel chatbot that they want to speak to “a real person”.
If they have this happen to them at several establishments they will simply become discouraged with the service and opt-out of using it. So the real issue at hand isn’t whether too much technology is hurting chances of guest loyalty, but rather whether industry misuse of said tech is what is causing it.
After all, guests want advancements. There tends to be an eagerness to seeing something new implemented in the establishment they visit:
- They see a new self-check-in kiosk in your lobby;
- They can now download an app for your hotel;
- You have switched locking mechanisms from standard keys to key cards;
- You have added responsive AI technology in certain more upscale rooms;
These are just some of the more popular examples, and guests tend to accept the change as an upgrade. Something luxurious that they receive in exchange for their repeat patronage. There is of course the other end of hospitality technology that guests do not experience. Your property management system can be used to gather data on that make up your guest’s profile. Guest data constitutes the primary currency in loyalty, the more you know about your guest the better the service you can provide.
After all, it's little touches like having your staff address each valued guest by name whenever they interact that makes the guest feel like they have truly made a memorable impression on their hosts. Guests can also expect that on a repeat visit their room has already been pre-made to their liking, even adding little touches which make the experience even more memorable for the guest. And if you do happen to be booked solid, making it more difficult to keep track of who is who, staff can always refer to their guest profile in your PMS and refresh their memory.
If anything, when properly implemented technology increases the chances of building a loyal relationship with your guests. Proper implementation is seamless. Hotel staff and management must understand the limitation of the technology involved, just as they understand how to best make use of it to serve their needs and are always on standby for when the guest inevitably turns to them.
After all, what hotel technology does is to create a more systematic way of processing guest requests and demands. The human capacity to empathize with guests and their requests cannot be overtaken by a machine, but it can be aided by its ability to store large quantities of data and segment them into systems. This means that loyalty treatment can be expanded to all guests, improving your services and your acquisition. After all, it is your staff who are going to inevitably answer the call and aid your guests.
You may also find interesting:
The Five Ways in Which Hospitality Technology Can Improve Hotel Efficiency
Hospitality 2.0: Strategic Planning for a Better Tomorrow
How Technology is Changing Hospitality for the Better
About Clock Software
Clock Software is a global provider of cloud-based property management systems (PMS), integrated online distribution, online & kiosk hotel self check-in solutions and mobile & in-room guest engagement systems with customers in more than 65 countries.