The greatest asset is not your room - My Takeaways from ITB Asia for Hoteliers
Last week, I attended ITB Asia and was asked to speak on a panel with a boutique hotelier to discuss the topic of “The Hotel of the Future”. It’s an intriguing topic that has been getting a lot of attention in recent years, and, like many others in the industry, I have my views on the direction the industry is headed. Here are my 3 key takeaways from this conversation:
Some technology just doesn’t make sense for hotels
It’s easy to be consumed by all the tech jargon that we’re now exposed to on a daily basis. It also doesn’t help that startups try to jump on the buzzword bandwagon to make themselves look better - in that sense, I could easily pitch Portier Technologies as an AI company, but I don’t because it’s important to focus on the tangible benefits in a hotel environment.
Technology should seamlessly integrate into a hotel's existing environment to create a harmonious guest experience
Having said that, it feels as though hoteliers haven’t quite worked out how to deal with the quantity and variety of technology available to them. Robots for housekeeping? Gimmick! In other words, not every new technology that becomes available should be immediately relevant to hoteliers. But instead, technology should seamlessly integrate into a hotel's existing environment to create a harmonious guest experience.
It’s all about enhancing, not replacing
In an age when it’s critical for hoteliers to differentiate from the likes of Airbnb, replacing staff for efficiency’s sake shouldn’t be a topic. When was the last time you stayed at a hotel and thought: “Wow, that hotel was really efficient!” It’s typically staff members that make a hotel stay special, not the fact that you can end up in your room without ever talking to somebody. If I’m only after efficiency, I’ll pick an Airbnb with easy check-in, so I don’t have to meet the host, but can let myself in, drop my things and explore.
If I want something special, I’d look for staff interactions that make me feel like I’m on a holiday or that it feels like people care for my business trip to be successful. In that sense, staff can simply be enhanced by technology. For instance, we provide hotel staff with instant data on guest behaviour - that way, hoteliers know what type of promotion to push to whom, when. This doesn’t remove the human element, it simply equips that member of staff with better information on the on-site guests.
Rooms are not an asset - it’s the captive attention of guests that matters
No matter how beautifully designed your rooms are, that will not be enough to get your guests’ genuine attention. Simply put, a guest that is fully engaged by the hotel will be happier, spend more and return in the future. To get that attention, the regular transition between staff and technology needs to be in full harmony.
In the same way you shouldn’t be looking at rooms as an asset, you should avoid doing the same with tech products. If you have Portier Phones deployed at your hotel for example, it’s not the physical device that provides a benefit to the guest, but more so a heightened sense of what your guests like, dislike, want etc. generated from the data insights that our platform delivers. In that respect, our service starts with the deployment of a simple phone in a room but ends up enhancing the ability of your staff by delivering detailed insights into guest behaviour on and off property.