Technology is everywhere in a modern hotel, and in 2021 and beyond, it is not only about in-room Wi-Fi or booking a hotel room online. The reality is that the list of guest-facing technology is quite long. Plus, now hotel companies are leaning on technologies to limit personal contact in support of social distancing. This leads us to ask: are our guests satisfied with these new technologies? Does technology satisfaction carry over to the overall satisfaction of the hotel stay? More importantly, would guests rebook with the same hotel company in the future?
This past August, we conducted a study that aimed to assess the use of technology by our guests and how this may impact their overall stay satisfaction and re-booking intentions. A U.S.-wide sample was collected using the service of an online panel data vendor, and a total of 1,002 surveys were collected.
A full report of the results have been published by HFTP. The report gave us some definitive ideas on how technology use influenced guest satisfaction and their likelihood to return to the property, even breaking down the trends by demographics. To give you an idea of the results, here is a summary of some of our findings.
If your hotel is developing its own technology, make it intuitive with all guests in mind. If your hotel is buying a technology, look for the one that is the easiest to use. There is always a learning curve, and the shorter that curve is, the better. For certain guests, a bit more instruction is appreciated and needed — any tips on how to use the technology can make their experience more welcoming.
We have been working with our front office agents and even with our online booking site so that as soon as a guest books a room, they make upgrade suggestions. That is smart. But, why stop there? Anytime you send your guests a reminder of their upcoming reservations or other pre-stay communications, leverage your technology to keep on upselling. Technology can help you help your guests turn their unplans into plans. What a novel idea.
Never waste an opportunity, right? If you make things easier, people will be more apt to try. Have items that you would like to sell in a QR Code catalog and put that code next to the lamp on the nightstand or by the television. Now you have your guests opening a whole menu from in-room dining or menu from your restaurants. The app can also feature the technology in the room which you also can partner with your technology providers to sell to your guests. Some hotels have catalogs selling monogram bath robes, plush towels, or even glassware or coffee cups.
When the unplanned purchases and rebooking intentions were analyzed against demographics and travel behavior, we saw that men gravitate more to technology purchases. As well, the younger the guests, the more they are inclined to consider unplanned purchases. Income and education have no impact at all. Again, seize the moment. For the male guests and the younger crowd, market to them through emails or even social media before they arrive and continue to highlight those purchase opportunities upon arrival. Let them know the specials your hotel has to offer and how they can take advantage of that. That does not mean you should tell your staff to ignore the other guests. We should treat all the same — but when possible, know your targets.
From the set of eight travel behaviors, guests who stayed at the hotel before — and also those who are members of the loyalty program — all have higher scores in unplanned purchases and rebooking intentions. The scores are also higher for those who stayed at the luxury category, followed by upper upscale hotels. Thus, for hotels in these two categories, the continuous building and enhancing of that loyalty relationship is paramount, as these guests will rebook with you and will be your best advocates.
For hotels in the other classes and scales, your loyalty guests also indicated they will continue to rebook, but they are very price-sensitive. To ensure your loyalty guests will rebook, be cognizant of the price point.
Necessity is the mother of invention, and we as humans are really good at it. Take the bull by the horn and use technology as our friend to weather through this time together and come out stronger on the other end.
Agnes DeFranco, Ed.D., CHAE, CHE, CHIA, CAHTA is a professor and Conrad N. Hilton Distinguished Chair at the Conrad N. Hilton College, University
of Houston in Houston, Texas USA. She is an HFTP Global past president and a recipient of the HFTP Paragon Award.
Minwoo Lee, Ph.D., MBA, CHE, CHIA is an assistant professor at the Conrad N. Hilton College, University of Houston in Houston, Texas USA.