Last week, I participated in Bali's arguably most intriguing hospitality event, AWAKEN. Sharing the stage with Four Seasons' John Hamilton was yet another reminder of where hotel technology should be heading and why a close relationship between hotels and providers is critical to success. Here are 3 thoughts from last week's conversation:
Don't go it alone
For one reason or another, a lot of hotels and hotel brands have started introducing their own technology. The logic for this might be a lack of trust in technology providers, combined with the confidence in the hotels' own ability to develop something for an environment they understand best. Unfortunately, most hotel brands were not born in the digital age and many are still going through a process of digital transformation, which, in itself, is very paradoxical. This in-house approach to technology then distracts from something hotels should be known for more than anything else, guest experience. In other words, a misguided interest in technology dilutes a hotel's core product.
In that sense, it's critical for hotels to work with technology providers that have the industry's best interest at heart. Working closely with such partners will enable hotels to continue to focus on their core product and will empower hoteliers to integrate technology into an already functional and exceptionally unique environment. What's more, this approach will save time, and lots of it. For reference, it took Four Seasons 18 months (!!!) to develop their chat app, which seems like the equivalent of forever in the world of technology.
High Tech & High Touch go together
I often come across the misconception that technology replaces the human touch. I can empathize with that thought process on the surface, but reality could not be more different. Think about some of the technology that has been introduced to our personal lives over the years - video calls make long distances disappear and conversations become more personal and more frequent, smartphone cameras make high-quality photography affordable and capture more personal moments, taking an Uber allows for random conversations with strangers and so on.
It's up to the users discretion as to how personal technology should be.
The reality is simple; it's up to the user's discretion as to how personal technology should be. In a hotel environment, it's all about letting technology help amplify the human touch. For instance, using Portier, our hotel partners now benefit from increased interactions with guests, even when they are away from the property - from a guest's perspective, these hotel stays have become more personal because guests now benefit from more than just a comfortable bed or a beautifully designed room, it's a comprehensive guest experience.
Understanding guests is the key
Imagine being a traveler who's visited a city multiple times - your expectations are set: you know where to eat, where to go, where to shop etc. As you move around the city, you leave traces of behavior behind, both at the hotel and on the road. Now, if the hotel had a rough understanding of such behavior, your experience in the city and at the property could be further personalized by hotel staff, giving you something that you simply can't get at an Airbnb, for example.
In that sense, an expected experience can turn into something unique, courtesy of the hotel or brand you decided to stay with. This is one way in which a solution like Portier focuses on amplifying staff - we're equipping staff members with the ability to genuinely wow a guest and deliver an experience that's unparalleled.