Guest expectations are higher today than ever before, and technology is a key component in helping the hospitality industry cope with continual change, according to a recently released ebook by Local Measure, a customer intelligence platform for hospitality and tourism. The ebook, Technology and the Guest Experience: Views from Five Luxury Hoteliers, draws insights from interviews with senior-level executives at luxury hotels discussing how technology has impacted the guest experience and where the guest experience is moving to in the future.
The interviews explore questions around Artificial Intelligence, how robots can be used to support service, the place of in-room technology, new channels of communication, social media, and real-time guest feedback.
The five experts interviewed highlight key takeaways from the ebook below.
Driving a Culture of Innovation
Laurent Delporte, luxury hotel expert and industry consultant, Delporte Hospitality, said, “It’s quite difficult every time, to know in advance which technology will be good and which won’t. At the same time, in luxury you have to be different and innovative so you need to take a risk. This is the deal. It’s important to try to innovate and to offer your customers a taste.”
Ana Brant, director of global guest experience and innovation, Dorchester Collection, added, “While having a process helps, one of the key things is to hire for curiosity. Curious people naturally strive to learn and improve; they are excited by learning new facts and are often catalysts for change. They google, research, experiment with new things, and read naturally. Only curiosity and human insight can connect digital and physical worlds, but technology certainly helps.”
Omnichannel Guest Communications
Ian Wilson, senior vice president of non-gaming operations, Marina Bay Sands, commented, “We get over 80,000 surveys a year through our internal survey and that’s not including all the social media comments, so how do you gain insight into those open texts? That’s what we’re working on, how do we glean insight as to where we can make the biggest impact for the customer whether they’ve been explicit or not, based on what we learn about them through data. Then, how do you apply those learnings with limited resources?”
Radha Arora, president, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, added, “In our daily lives we communicate more and more by text or email, and so it has become essential that our staff has the ability to communicate with guests in whichever way best suits the guests, whether that is Twitter, Facebook, email, text, telephone, a personal visit, or all of the above.”
Artificial Intelligence and Robotics
Ana Brant, director of global guest experience and innovation, Dorchester Collection, said, “We have been using AI and machine learning since 2014, but mostly to understand the wisdom of the crowds gathered through multiple review sites. Machine learning is an outstanding platform which sorts through the clutter of data and turns it into insight. But one still needs to instill a lot of human intelligence to turn that insight into knowledge and organizational wisdom.”
Ian Wilson, senior vice president of non-gaming operations, Marina Bay Sands, added, “When we speak to robotics there are two different strains: you have conventional robotics, which may move things from place ‘A’ to place ‘B’ or autonomously vacuum an area and then you have Robotic or Intelligent Process Automation. In essence, it functions like a macro between multiple systems and allows you to automate online computer tasks. Both of those look to reduce low-value tasks, though they may cut all the way into managerial roles and both allow our employees to focus more time on how to take good care of our guests or how they can add more value to the organization.”
Customer Content and Social Media
“Beyond our own content, user-generated content is becoming increasingly important on social media. Recommendations from peers have influenced the process of booking travel as today’s travelers are focused on finding unique and exciting experiences that they can share on their social media channels,” said Radha Arora, president, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts
Data and Personalization
Christian Clerc, president of worldwide hotel operations, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, explained, “In the case of the Four Seasons Mobile App, technology is helping us build stronger relationships with our guests, providing a way to build a deeper understanding of their preferences and allowing us to curate and personalize experiences and services that are tailored to them.”
Guest Experience ‘Labs’
Clerc added that Four Seasons launched a Research and Discovery Studio (R&D Studio) at the company’s international headquarters in Toronto to advance the guest experience. “The R&D Studio is a creative workspace and global resource where talent from across the organization can come together to experiment, play, simulate practical challenges, test ideas, and find inspiration.”