In Praise of the Hotel Experience and the Tailored Experience

It’s an unfashionable opinion, but I have a soft spot for the venerable hotel in a world seduced by room sharing services.

The level of care and personal service the hospitality industry brings is astounding in what can be a cold, impersonal world. It’s nice to get a certain level of pampering and service when you are on holiday. It makes the experience more personable and pleasurable.

A house or holiday flat can be homey and convenient, but the staff, service levels and facilities in a hotel really make or break it for me. And, perhaps surprisingly, technology can play a real role in making a holiday or business trip really special for the jaded traveller.

One hotel in Paris has used smart video technologies to complement the skills of their renowned concierges and front of house staff. Its staff are now able to access guest details as they arrive to greet them my name, reserving their favourite room if they have not booked in advance, and even calling out for a bottle of bubbly if their rewards level merits it. Yet where they used to rely on memory in the more genteel days when there might be fewer guests staying each year, they now rely on smart video running analytics in real time to help them recognise valued guests before they introduce themselves. That enables the front of house staff make the very best first impression – and sets the tone for a guest experience second to none.

And smart video technologies help others in the hospitality give better guest experiences too. It’s the intelligence of the algorithms that monitor the live feeds that helps the hospitality industry so much. Smart video can allow hotel or other venues’ management to assess, monitor, and take action on a wide variety of customer care situations by deploying staff and assets much more effectively to produce the best customer experiences.

For example, at the basic end, seeing where guests are and how they move through the premises can allow the energy conscious industry to better control heating and lighting with pin point accuracy where they were previously set to timers or to come on only when guests pass a precisely located sensor.

Smart video can allow hotels to free staff from monitoring old fashioned security cameras, and instead flag suspicious behaviour to a team of staff at once if someone moves to a zone or room that they are not authorised, or if there is movement at times when movement would not be expected. If that means there’s an injured guest, or one that has gotten confused, that means help can be sent much quicker. Staff armed with mobile devices can even verify a situation remotely, not having to view the video from a control room.

The smart video technology can be accessed by multiple departments, from Front Desk to security, to marketing and the management team. It enables the concierge to monitor taxi lines, management to monitor the arrivals and departures, and operations to monitor all public places for a health and safety perspective – all accessing one video camera.

Hotel concessions or retailers can even use the same system to better count customers, who linger near windows, displays or merchandising – and assess how best to market, attract, and help customers. And restaurateurs can really fine tune just how long customers are waiting without having to distractingly hover over patrons’ shoulders!

Beyond visual inspection, hotels are able to invest in other smart technologies too – though maybe less flashy! – like the little tech touches that show careful planning and personalisation.

Maybe the room phone or TV already has the guest’s name on it when they arrive, and can offer recommendations based on past searches or purchases whilst there, or in partner venues elsewhere. Perhaps it allows access to the metrics from smart cameras and offers a traffic light system to say how busy the restaurants, pool or gym are at any time. It may also remember how a guest likes their room and water temperature, whether they like their windows open or closed, what time they set their alarm, and what TV channel they like to pop on first thing.

The name of the game is personalisation to make the guest experience more comfortable and convenient.

Right now, Starwood Hotels have an Apple Watch app that allows its guests to open their room door. In the Florida Walt Disney World Resort guests can use their ‘MagicBand’ for room access, ticket to the park, and as an alternative to cash when purchasing meals.

Next year Carnival cruises may be ready to offer its ‘Ocean Medallion’. It’s another wearable that connects with sensors on-board to be a concierge. It is planned to help guests navigate the ship, and call for food and beverages.

So if it’s an experience that really fits you, smart hotels using smart tech will be hard to beat because they will be trying their hardest to provide the very best, fastest, and personal experiences with facilities to boot.

In fact, the embracing of smarter tools is a theme of the hotel experience, as other hospitality businesses from casinos to restaurants are using the technology to better care for guests, manage staff and resources, and even spot risks to safety, combining AI, smart video and the IoT together into a seamless whole. It’s going to be very good to be a traveller.

I’m just not sure a short term rental from a private seller excites me in the same way.

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