The Problem With (And Solution To) Localization
Here's a possible scenario:
"I'll be traveling to Hong Kong next week. It's my very first time, and I'll be in town for 4 nights."
For obvious reasons, I'd like to experience the city in the best way imaginable and be as localized as possible, without the need to go out of my way. However, I take a look at Hong Kong Tourism Board's website and the recommendation is for me to download 14 applications to benefit from full localization. Like most others, I spend the vast majority of my time using my top 3 apps (as you can read HERE), and I won't download a new app, let alone 14 new apps, especially when it's only going to serve a purpose for me for 4 days. I proceed without downloading the recommended apps.
Now, I have arrived at my hotel for the week, and following the usually unwelcome time spent at the airport, I get my first 30-45 minutes of acclimatisation in my hotel room. This will likely be the most relaxed segment of this trip, so come and get me! I need a local expert, need some recommendations, and yes, sorry, but I failed to do my homework and never really created a full itinerary - surprise, surprise!
The story above is reminiscent of a traveler's typical journey through a destination. The likelihood is that, following the eventual handling of the corona-virus pandemic, hotels will begin to receive guests with similar mindsets and routines again.
For a long time, hotels benefitted from being regarded as a genuine entry-point to a destination, a key of sorts, unlocking the gates of the city. This had been achieved through knowledgable concierges and staff members that simply knew and understood the city better than any algorithm could. Consequently, travelers often got a more comprehensive experience than expected, and that's part of what made the hotel experience special.
In many ways, the current "break" gives hoteliers an opportunity to reassess their offering and give in to the inevitable: mobile technology. Having said that, giving in doesn't mean giving up on what makes a hotel special. In fact, if applied properly, technology can revive hotels' special access to the destination and empower a stronger relationship between guests and hotel staff, during a time when guests might need the support of hotel staff more than ever before in the history of this relationship.
This, in turn, will make immediate localization a new and welcome reality for the future traveler, all powered by the chosen hotel. That is a value proposition that can fend off any hotel competitors and prevent hotels from becoming a mere sleeping arrangement. As Larry Mogelonsky put so swiftly, it's critical that you rethink what you offer via "your onsite hotel experience so that it actually has an emotional impact on mobile-first guests, remember that anything Google can do, you should not try to compete with. Retraining of your concierge and front desk means you should look to exclusive deals or intimately knowing the immediate area so that you can provide the utmost in convenience" (full article HERE).
This is exactly what the team at Portier Technologies has always believed in: the idea of providing full localization via the power of hotel staff and helping travelers fully access the destination without the need to do too much homework before arriving. Hotels are the perfect localizer and the opportunity to revive this superhero power might never return, so today's technology choices are of paramount importance. If you invest in technology to "leave your guests to it", you might as well not invest at all. Eventually, your "bring your own X" approach might lead travelers to "bring" their own sleeping arrangements.