15 Mar Episode 3: The Technological Age – Boutique techno
Technology has always played a major part in design for hospitality. Hotel designers always have to be at the forefront of technological innovations because they have to be able to offer these up to the hotel guest. Designers have to align their creative ideas with commercial requirements so that a project can accommodate continual advances in technology.
The one thing that a boutique hotelier has to keep in mind is that they stay relevant in the face of the larger hotel groups market presence and they must adapt.
Personality in Technology
Personalisation of experience aided by new technology is the current trend within the hotel industry. By making data more personal in initial communications the hotelier can cater to each individual guest. And as guest become savvier their expectation become higher and are now researching their hotel stay in its minutiae. Online recommendations by fellow travellers at the booking stage also enable personalisation to particular demographics within the guest community. Thus, the hotelier can also individualise experience for guests by advertising based on their preferences and then track them or make them earn loyalty points.
It is not only at the booking stage where personalisation is enabled by technology. The “What’s app concierge” found in hotels promotes a personal guest journey by allowing the guest to inform the virtual concierge of their needs. They can now add on bespoke options to their stay as a result of their personal interaction online, thus improving the guests experience & stay. Ultimately the better the experience the better the final reviews will be
Hotels are now destinations as we discussed previously and they need to cater for every type of guest, no longer do we as guests just want to have materialistic luxuries. We are looking for a more experience-based visit.
Millennial guests now use technology & social media constantly, travellers start younger due to tech advances and as a result they are impulsive & reactive. Amongst all the new perks for these millennial travellers are online check ins, digital concierges, “Instagram able” events & experiences that they can share with the world via Social media. Subsequently everyone is able to comment and also experience the guest’s journey.
Technology is also about saving energy in the eco-friendly era. Innovative systems can be implemented into rooms recognising if a guest is present or not. Subsequently staff can switch off all unnecessary systems remotely such as lighting and aircon thus saving energy and controlling costs. In smart hotels, personalized tablets can control everything from room temperature to food service orders.
Rooms have streaming services such as Netflix and Apple TV. Also, the inclusion of digitised room keys means swipe cards have been replaced with smartphones and apps. Not only does this ease the check in process but helps reduce the loss of the keys.
But could too many tech savvy innovations & services risk compromising on a first-class personalised service within boutique hospitality? Of course advances in technology enables sleeker service provisions, freeing up staff time, which can then be better spent serving the guest. This interaction will always be the point of difference. Computers or robots do not have character or a sense of humour just yet!
Likewise, the traditional front desk will become redundant within the reception area. The formality of the reception desk will be replaced with a less formal comfortable lobby lounge arrangement where guests can be greeted by staff wielding Ipads while they check in and partake in complimentary welcome refreshments. Alternatively, the likes of Hilton have established digital check-ins & outs instead of the conventional desk.
Ultimately the cost of this techno takeover is the main hindrance to the boutique hotel owner going forward; the new technology has to be affordable for the smaller establishment. However, boutique hoteliers need to integrate technology and realise its value as it is a priority to move forward in this technological age.