According to an STR census from the end of 2015, there were roughly 5 million hotel rooms in more than 52,000 properties across the United States. This does not take into account other lodging options that are increasingly competing with hotels. When a guest has tens of thousands of competitors to choose from, what can hoteliers do to give their hotels the edge they need to stand out from the crowd?
Technology innovations are a surefire way to gain an advantage in the market, particularly when it comes to winning over business travelers. Each come with a financial investment, but several solutions can make a difference while not exceeding a hotel’s budget.
A Wireless Stay
The first thing guests often do upon entering their room is look for power to set up their home base. In fact, the most requested innovations by business travelers focus on easier access to charging options. Studies show that 34 percent of business travelers want to see more regular power and USB outlets in their hotel rooms, while 32 percent also want in-room chargers for laptops and phones.
Hotels have struggled to keep up with the demand for power, due largely in part to the high cost of retrofitting rooms. However, charging options that do not require undergoing a pricey renovation are available to hotels. Some charging solutions are integrated into hardware and can be placed in common areas, such as outlets on the surface of desks in the business center or the bartop in the hotel lobby, creating an ecosystem of hassle-free charging. Such conductive technology can also be found in individual charging pads and portable power banks placed within the guestrooms, allowing them to stay fully charged during their stay wherever they go.
Most guests can recall experiencing the monotonous scanning of TV channels to find something to watch during their hotel stay as well as scanning to skip commercials. An additional 27 percent of business travelers want their hotels to offer smart TVs with internet access, while 34 percent want access to streaming services allowing them to watch Netflix, HBO Go, and other streaming services they subscribe to personally.
Smart TV technology diminishes the need to rewire guestrooms, a pricey factor which historically has dissuaded hotels from providing these options. In addition to internet access via the television, hotels can provide personalized welcome messages, allow for mirroring of content from guest’s phones and tablets (including Netflix and the like), and many more features. As guests have become so accustomed to having these options available to them at home, smart TVs are another offering that makes guests feel at home while traveling.
Hotel guests feel strongly about being able to check-in with just a few taps on their personal smartphones. As many as 68 percent of guests wish to forego the front desk and speed up check-in by doing so on their own devices, and 79 percent of business travelers specifically would like to check in and out of their hotel via a mobile device.
While it can seem disconcerting to eliminate guest interactions with a carefully hired employee upon arrival, each guest is different and values different things. Engaging technology can drive loyalty by empowering the guests by providing a choice of service. This simple offering can provide convenience and efficiency to the guests who seek those incentives, helping hotels differentiate themselves from the competition.
Even for hotels that aren’t new-build or planning to undergo a pricey renovation, giving a property the edge it needs to achieve a competitive advantage is not completely out of reach. Technology innovations are beneficial for hotels of all segments and price levels and help cater to more demographics and traveler types to make their stay even more comfortable.
About the Author
Cliff Weinstein is the CEO and president of FLI Charge, a company that provides power and charging solutions. Prior to FLI Charge, Weinstein was executive vice president of FORM Holdings, Inc., a diversified holding company that specializes in developing companies with superior growth potential, where he led the acquisition of FLI Charge in 2015 and was responsible for mergers and acquisitions along with capital markets strategy.
Photos courtesy of FLI Charge