A significant part of the prioritization of guest experiences has involved giving guests more autonomy throughout their travel journey. Giving guests the chance to customize more aspects of their stay right upon booking a room and just after check-in helps send the message that the hotel’s staff is there to provide the exact kind of travel experience that the guest wants. Here a few examples of how hotels are doing this:
Choice on Check-In & Check-Out
Highlighted by the New York Times, The Hoxton is one hotel that gives guests more options for check-in and check-out times. The property’s Flexy Time option lets guests who book directly to set their own check-in and check-out time if they give 72 hours notice.
This freedom can be enormous for some travelers, letting guests plan their own schedule and eliminate the dreaded waiting period between arriving at a new destination and settling into their accommodations. Letting guests check out later than noon also can persuade leisure travelers to go out later into the night and explore the destination they are visiting more than they might have if they had to check out earlier.
Choose Your Housekeeping Schedule
With hotel brands like IHG making headlines for eco-friendly policies such as eliminating miniature toiletries, it is no surprise that some industry onlookers are scrutinizing housekeeping practices. This has prompted some hotels to give guests the option to decline bed linen changes.
Depending on the hotel’s size and brand, perks like a food and beverage voucher or loyalty points have been offered in exchange for declining housekeeping services. This works well for guests who are not just environmentally conscious, but also those who just want to sleep in and not be disturbed during their stay.
Providing this choice is great for guests and beneficial for hotels that are looking to minimize spending, with the cost of the guest’s compensation being significantly lower than that of the labor.
Selecting Your Own Room
When thinking about giving more autonomy to guests, this almost seems too obvious — especially when considering how 45% of travelers would like to have this option. Today, travelers are able to pick out their exact seat on an airplane when they buy their tickets, just like how movie-goers can select their seats when they purchase tickets ahead of time.
However, applying this principle to hotel rooms has proven to be a bit more complicated. With guests constantly checking in and out of rooms at different times, even a small hotel’s room supply is usually in a state of flux. Dealing with different schedules makes it impossible for the staff of large hotels to know which exact rooms will be available ahead of time, and regularly logging this information so that it is available to online buyers makes more work for these teams.
Despite these challenges, some hotels have found a way to give guests this option, letting travelers choose a room that checks all their boxes. Hilton, for example, allows its honors members to view the hotel floor plan and select their room the day before the stay through the chain’s mobile app.
Easily Available Technology
The emerging popularity of Internet of Things technology and smart speakers, it was only a matter of time before these features became available in hotel rooms. Marriott’s 2018 partnership with Amazon to bring the company’s voice assistant Alexa to the company’s rooms is just one example of incorporating smart technology into the guest experience.
The results of this particular application have not been entirely positive, with privacy concerns being top among the issues hotels are coming across. However, other examples of integrating everyday tech into guest rooms have been considerably better received.
Just by looking at these few strategies it is clear that if too many small decisions are left up to the guest, managing all these unique stays will become more difficult from the staff’s perspective. This is why it is critical to keep in mind the cost-benefit of increasing guest autonomy. While guest experiences need to come first, making too many aspects of the stay customizable will end up limiting the staff’s ability to deliver consistently excellent service — ruining the whole point of these initiatives.
Hospitality tech is at its best when it not only improves guest experiences but also helps hotel employees do their jobs, and this is something that decision-makers need to keep in mind when exploring their options for customer experience technology.
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