People always say that good hospitality is about creating a home away from home for your guests. The trick, however, is to do better than that. You want an experience that offers all of the comforts of home, but none of the inconveniences. While we’re very good at the room and board element of hospitality, the real trick in 2016 is to make sure that we’re out in front of tech trends, too.
These four tech trends will help you stay in front of the industry, and offer an experience to your customer that is over and beyond what they might find at home.
1. Bandwidth, Bandwidth, Bandwidth!
At hospitality conferences across the country, the number one word on everyone’s lips is always “bandwidth.” There’s a seemingly endless demand for it, and a solution that works great today can quickly become woefully inadequate tomorrow. It can become a bottomless pit of an expense line if you don’t have a plan for how to meet the demand.
One of the major hurdles in planning for connectivity is the amount of devices the typical traveler carries around with them. The average non-millennial has 2.5 devices, which makes sense if you think about it: most people have their phone, their laptop, and maybe a tablet or e-reader. The average millennial, however, totes a whopping 5 devices, and expects connectivity on all of them.
The problem with multiple devices is that they each require their own unique set of registrations, and depending on your setup this can be a major expense. At the same time, it’s hard to get someone to be understanding about not being able to hop on your network with their phone. What’s more, the number of devices is only expected to grow going forward.
The keys to meeting these challenges are twofold: having the ability to adjust your bandwidth on the fly, and having a plan for your future needs. Generally you should be able to anticipate demand ahead of time, but the last thing you need when you have a major event going on is people bogging down your staff with complaints about connectivity, so flexibility is vital. In the long term, the key is to make sure that your infrastructure is modular, so it can be easily upgraded as needs arise. You want to be able to take advantage of advances in technology without having to redo the entire system each time.
2. Tech Trends for Millennials
As the earning power of millennials grows into a larger and larger share of the market, people are looking for ways to cater to their specific needs and tastes. By 2020, experts forecast that 50% of all money spent in the travel sector will come out of the pockets of millennials.
Anticipating this shift, more and more businesses are moving to offer a lifestyle hotel experience. Millennials are seeking a unique experience, and this style of hospitality features an emphasis on bolder design choices with spaces set up to mix work and play, alone or in groups.
When making choices that cater to millennials, it’s important to have the technology to back up the design choices you are making. They expect to be able to seamlessly transition from their room to the lobby or the bar, and bring their devices with them on the go.
These insights also apply to millennials in your own workforce. The trick is to find ways to adapt the tools that they already use every day to work for productivity. Things like video chat, mobile, and social are all tools which millennials already have a high fluency with that can be useful for getting work done.
A growing phenomenon that has been important for larger event spaces are eSports. While it might not sound like such a big deal, a 2015 tournament drew 4.6 million concurrent viewers watching 16 teams compete for over $18 million.
eSports are similar to other conventions and live events, but with a few specific tech needs that need to be addressed. The main event needs to broadcast both for the live audience and people tuning in at home via Periscope or Twitch.
These events are also meant to have a high degree of interactivity: attendees aren’t just there to watch, they also expect to be able to play a little too. It’s important to give the main event the attention it deserves, but also reserve space for groups to have more informal time together.
Obviously, this is a situation where you are expected to provide plenty of bandwidth. Plan ahead, and make sure that you have the flexibility to be able to “turn up the dial” if you start running into any problems.
4. Casting Technology
People today often bring their entertainment with them. With digital libraries of music and movies moving to the cloud, and subscriptions with services like Netflix, HBOGo, and Hulu, customers have essentially the same options in the hotel room that they have sitting at home.
More and more, your guests want to bring their own content, and get that content onto the big screen that’s already in their room. It can be tough to accept this reality, because on-demand entertainment has been such an excellent source of hotel revenue for such a long time. On the other hand, offering a casting solution or smartphone controls that is over and above what they might have at home is a surefire way to build loyalty and long term customers who will find others ways to spend money with you.
What You Can Do Right Now
Keeping up tech trends in hospitality is fundamental to your ability to offer guests an experience that is just like home, but better. Consistently delivering can make technology a part of your brand, and put you down in customers’ minds as someone who “gets it right.”
- Plan ahead for connectivity, both in the short term and long term. Keep flexible.
- Think about ways to adapt your experience for millennials.
- Get into the eSports scene and look into hosting.
- Help guests watch the content they bring on the entertainment options you provide.
Lisa has more than 17 years of experience in segment marketing, customer relationship management and marketing communications with Verizon Wireless, BellSouth and AT&T. In addition to marketing leadership roles, She holds a Master’s degree in Communications from Western Kentucky University and holds a Six Sigma Green Belt certification.
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