Saturday, December 24, 2016

Can Technology Boost Hotel Customer Loyalty?

A set of two Hospitality Vision studies by Zebra Technologies that surveyed nearly 1,200 hotel and resort workers and 1,680 consumers has put a magnifying lens on the technology factors that make a customer loyal to a particular hotel or resort.

The studies discovered that the demand for seamless connectivity has driven the hotel sector to create technology solutions that make their guests keep coming back: these “sticky” innovations include smartphone check-ins and digitally-enabled loyalty programs.
The study discovered that 49 percent of the surveyed hotels are looking for ways to turn guests’ data into enhanced in-stay experiences, and 74 percent plan to implement location-based technologies within the next year.

Most hotel guests love the smartphone check-in option, and 74 percent of customers said that they appreciated hotels and resorts that customize messaging and their offers. So, for instance, if you get a personalized text message from the hotel’s general manager welcoming you to the property, and the message also says that the minibar is stocked with their favorite snacks, that’s a win-win. They also want text updates on when the room will be ready, or if they’ve received upgrades.
The study also found that despite the growing need for data privacy, guests are willing to divulge some personal information in exchange for tailored promotional offers, but hotels are also building the valuable space of trust with customers by never selling personal information to third parties.  
This feature is increasingly becoming as basic as brushing teeth: travelers can use their phones to unlock their rooms at many properties, and also access guest-exclusive areas like the gym and spa.

Jeff Schmitz, senior vice president of Zebra Technologies said that since the hospitality industry is becoming an increasingly competitive market, especially with the proliferation of niche hotels and home rental websites, “hotels and resorts are making significant technology investments to enhance hotel services.”
What hotels crave the most from their guests is loyalty.

Properties are therefore sending authentic experiences to their guests via technology rather than simply giving them Qwerty codes to scan during check-ins. The smartest ones are sending guests text messages with personalized dinner recommendations, and offering in-room amenities like yoga mats and gluten-free snacks even before they arrive at their room. This is where data can be used to create memorable experiences, and not simply as a robotic, mindless mechanism to supply basics like room keys. After all, the purpose of technology is to help us live life to the fullest, not reduce the experience to a soulless one.

Hotels in Latin America are moving the fastest to implement location-based technologies and guests, in turn, expect personal attention from the hotel and resort. In Europe, where customers are least likely to belong to loyalty programs, the idea of maintaining current guests is their top priority.
The boom in Latin America may come as a bit of a surprise, but David Añón, director channel marketing - LATAM at Zebra Technologies says since the major hospitality destinations are found in the Caribbean and Mexico’s coasts (east and west), the region attracts a wide demographic and base of travelers. “The region is also further divided when you consider subsets of the hospitality industry with its all-inclusives, beach resorts, eco-tourism, historical sites, recreational, even cruising,” he added.  

We can expect to see more location-based discounts, points, cash rewards, upgrades, and links with other commercial partners all as offers on smartphones and hotel iPads in the near future, which is all about creating value-added reasons to stay at a place. Read more...

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