In this hospitality tech series, we explore the trends as laid out in our white paper: “6 Key Trends Shaping Your Hospitality Business”.
Previously, we considered the rise of the smartphone’s popularity and how it’s shaping the way you need to interact with your guests, as well as considering how you can get closer to them in order to anticipate their needs and personalise their experience. This time, we’ll look at the importance of online reviews in a digital world and how to encourage more of them, as well as a deep dive on using tech to improve the check-in process.
5. Your online reputation is your reputation
More than in any other industry are reviews a vital source of information for customers – today, 70% of consumer purchasing decisions are influenced by the online reviews left by other customers. Not only do they allow customers to effectively ‘try before they buy’ and learn from the experiences of others, they indicate whether we can trust a company – “Well they don’t have many reviews so they can’t be very good.”
Research shows that 95% of leisure travellers spend an average of 30 minutes reading online reviews prior to booking a hotel. While TripAdvisor says that over half of travellers wouldn’t even consider a hotel that lacked reviews.
Online reviews can make or break a businesses because they make every single slip up more visible. That mark on the bedsheet has been snapped on Instagram, your overcooked broccoli Tweeted, a step-by-step account of the good, bad and ugly posted on Facebook…
The reality is that online reviews impact bookings, and therefore turnover and profit, so you literally can’t afford to have a less than perfect reputation.
In the digital age, hospitality tech plays a pivotal role in how you deliver an exceptional experience to get your customer raving, rather than ranting, about your business online.
So how is this achieved in practice?
The practical application
Ideally, you don’t want anything to upset your customer, but if something does go wrong you want to know about it in the moment so you can attempt to rectify the situation. Having multiple touchpoints during the process is key to this – it’s why your waiter will come and ask, “Is everything ok with your meal?” a few bites in. Think about how you could automate this process and encourage your customers to give this information freely, rather than constantly asking for it – whether buttons in reception, a prompt on your app, or morning message to ask how they slept.
Then once your guests have checked out, rather than be blind sided by a scathing review online, actively seek out their verdict privately and give yourself one last chance to put things right. Often, it’s companies who have failed to meet expectations, but shown they really care by doing anything possible to fix issues, who earn the most trust and loyalty.
Manage your online presence. A Google search is almost always the initial way a guest will find out about you, which means your website needs great SEO. But they also rely on credible third-party sources to make bookings – more than 60% of guests rely on non-hotel sources for in-destination queries, such as recommendations for activities and reservations.
To survive in this highly competitive sector, good guest ratings are everything – crucial to your reputation, marketing, bookings, and most of all revenue.
6. Tech speeds up check-in and meal order
Automation is a big trend we see across most sectors. The hospitality sector is no different as many guests prefer self-service technology over human interaction for simple tasks. Mintel agrees, service automation was its second biggest trend for hospitality tech last year (behind using a mobile device as a door key).
When it comes to the guest experience, the check-in process is often cited as the most painful – you’ve spent ages travelling, you’re excited to start your holiday or eager to settle in and get to work, but you’re forced to stand in reception for what feels like an eternity. 68% of guests think its unacceptable to queue at reception for longer than 5-minutes.
As a result, remote check-in is becoming increasingly popular. One survey found that 70% of guests would prefer to use their phone to speed up the check-in process. And it’s something that is already commonplace in the airline industry because it delivers a more convenient and less intrusive experience.
In addition, online check-in creates a wonderful opportunity for you to gather information about your guests’ preferences so you can upsell – “Would you like to order a glass of champagne upon arrival?”, “Would you like to book your parking now?” “Would you like to make dinner reservations?”
But it’s not just check-in that you should consider automating…
Mobile ordering is also increasing in popularity as guests prefer to limit the human interaction during their stay. Picking up the phone and dialling reception is a huge barrier to purchase when you could allow guests to simply click online and order what they want. Hotels offering in-room ordering via a mobile platform saw a minimum 18% increase in orders.
So what can you do to simplify the experience?
The practical application
We’ve said it previously in this series – you need an app.
Apps are commonplace in the digital era, and they’re now very affordable to create so there’s no excuse for not having one. Providing your guests with an app means you’re directly connected to them from the moment they book, throughout the duration of their stay and long after they leave.
When they arrive, they’re already checked-in and able to head straight to their room. So why not use the app as a door key too? 50% of travellers have expressed they’d prefer a digital room key, and it would eliminate the risk of lost keys or needing to programme new cards all the time.
And of course, once they’re in their room, using the app as their in-room ordering platform so guests can order anything they want with a simple click – whether that’s breakfast in bed or table reservations.
Digitally transform simple processes in your business, and the potential payoff is huge. 67% of travellers are more likely to choose a hotel that allows guests to check-in and open doors with a smartphone – if you only make this one change, you’ll stand way ahead of the competition.
What happens now?
It’s all well and good to talk about the wonders of hospitality tech, but how do you make it a reality for your business? How do you know what digital transformation should look like for your business? And what’s the simple first step you can take today?
It’s really simple. Send us a message and a member of our team will be in touch to book a convenient time when one of our specialists can talk with you about delivering your company’s version 3.0 through strategic IT, enabling agile and embracing change.