While they’re different entities serving different purposes, the retail and hotel industries have much in common. Ultimately, they’re both selling a product or brand, and they want to capture customers’ attention, loyalty, and money.
To stand out in a crowded market of legacy and up-and-coming brands, both fields must rely on emerging technologies. Just as customers’ retail shopping desires and habits changed during the pandemic, hotels are also dealing with new challenges that range from customer safety to ensure a relaxing, easy stay.
Here are three retail technologies that the hotel industry can adopt to keep up with the ever-changing travel atmosphere:
One of the biggest trends that emerged from the pandemic is the use of QR codes. Though the technology isn’t new, QR codes found new life at a time when touching items became less than desirable. From retail stores to restaurants, QR codes are easily scannable with a smartphone and are now commonplace.
Retailers use QR codes for advertising, where customers can scan a TV screen or a magazine to capture the latest store deals or information about current and new products. Hotels can take advantage of this form of advertising too, offering QR codes that lead to property tour videos, promote new property openings, or share deals with travelers.
Hotels also quickly adapt QR technology to help with guest check-in online or in the lobby and can continue to do so in additional ways. QR codes can be used by guests while they’re at the pool, beach, or golf course for food delivery. They can also use QR codes to peruse offerings at the hotel spa, restaurants, and other shared spaces, find out more about the property’s daily activites, and purchase items from the gift shop that are billed directly to their room or credit card.
Customers’ desire for contactless assistance during the pandemic also ushered in the need for virtual assistants in retail stores. Voice assistants can help customers locate products or look up prices. Virtual assistants are also emerging in the way of automated TV platforms. Virtual assistants can answer questions, show new or existing products, compare products, and print off takeaway materials.
This same technology can be used in hotels to streamline the guest experience. Virtual assistant stations in hotel lobbies could help ease check-in and check-out lines or help customers with their final bill. They could also serve as concierges, where customers can engage with a live person for tips on things to do in the area, book reservations, and more.
Virtual assistants available through text message can help with in-room questions and requests that take the load off the front desk staff. Guests can ask basic questions, request amenities such as towels, or place a food order.
Once a plot for sci-fi thrillers, facial recognition, which scans facial images of shoppers and workers, is now used for a variety of reasons at retail stores. Facial recognition can be used for contactless payments where shoppers’ purchases are tracked and then charged to their credit card when they leave. Retailers harness facial recognition to identify loyal customers to send them alerts or special promotions upon arrival or to track a customer’s journey through a store so that retailers can customize their future experience. Facial recognition is also a tool for security purposes to stop repeat shoplifting offenders.
Hotels can employ that same technology to better the guest experience. They can offer guests the chance to opt-in—or give permission—to bypass the traditional check-in desk and instead go to a kiosk that uses facial recognition to get their room and key. They can also pay for their room, food, or valet parking through facial recognition.
For guests who have given their permission, facial recognition can be used for extra hospitality at check-in, such as staff greeting them by name. The hotel can also use their preferences for a customized stay, from delivering their favorite cocktail to placing the guest in a room away from the elevators. The technology can even go as far as allowing a guest to use facial recognition to gain access to elevators, club levels, or private amenities. Also, similarly to retailers, tracking customers’ favored places and habits during their stay can help enhance future visits.
Hotels should implement technology that offers safety and convenience to stay at the forefront of travelers’ minds and wallets.
About the Author
Brett Beveridge is the founder and CEO OF T-ROC.