Have you been wanting to improve guest experience using tech-based hotel trends, but you think it’s out of your reach? Top-notch technology shouldn’t be reserved for major hotel brands only.
Unfortunately, budget limitations often prevent independent properties from investing in technology as much as they’d like to, and this financial constraint runs up against rising guest expectations. As people become accustomed to technology conveniences in other areas of their lives – from hotels to retail to the grocery store – their expectations only grow.
So, does this mean that independent hotels and properties can’t compete? Thankfully, the answer is a resounding ‘no.’ Independent hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, and even vacation rentals, simply have to be more thoughtful and intentional when it comes to selecting solutions that work best for their properties.
The right technology will not only create convenience for your guests, but it’ll also free up your staff and allow them to give guests more face-to-face attention to further enhance the guest experience. It’s that personalized attention that makes a memorable guest experience, boosts your hotel’s reputation, and nurtures a profitable business built for the long-term.
The following are 4 guest experience hotel trends matched with budget-friendly, accessible technology that’s easy to implement. Some even have overlapping features so that you can leverage more and spend less. These solutions help you balance the authenticity of human touch with the efficiency of self-service solutions – perfect for independent properties of all sizes. Note that most of these apps will seamlessly integrate with a cloud-based PMS so using them will provide a smooth, time-saving experience for both your staff and your guests.
After completing a long journey, the front desk is the last stop between a traveler and a hot shower. Frustration and impatience can bubble up at this phase, as most travelers want to get to their room quickly. This is where self check-in comes in. Travelport Digital found that over half the business travelers want to skip the front desk line and check-in via mobile app. It’s no surprise self check-in a priority and tops hotel tech-based trends.
Often, the same self-service check-in app will also provide guests with personalized, relevant information, such as details about your property and in-destination recommendations.
One budget-friendly tool independent properties can use to augment the check-in experience is Wishbox. Wishbox allows guests to upload all required documentation prior to arrival. In addition, the tool acts as a local expert, curating destination recommendations for guests across multiple languages. With a hand-picked variety of in-destination services customized for their travel dates, guests can upgrade their own experiences by booking local activities directly from the app.
Wishbox streamlines guest arrivals and puts guests in control of their own experience.
Another secure, online self-check in option is Civitfun. This service is especially helpful if you require more information from guests, such as a copy of an ID or passport. Guests can scan their ID and the tool will automatically add it to the PMS, saving time on both ends and streamlining the check-in process.
As far as tech-based hotel trends go, Chatbots have already become a fantastic addition to the hospitality toolkit. The secret sauce is artificial intelligence, which automatically routes requests and provides information without the need for immediate human intervention. For properties, chatbots help reserve your staff’s time for more complex requests. For guests, the chatbot shortens the time it takes to access the information they need.
For independent properties without a concierge or large staff, a chatbot is an invaluable boost to the guest experience. Chatbots give guests a real-time communication channel so they can ask questions, order room service, book tours and activities, and discover in-destination details.
Chatbots can also drive direct bookings, engaging guests and giving them the confidence they need to book on your website. For example, hotels using Trilyo’s intelligent chatbot technology saw a boost of 37% in direct-booking conversions. Trilyo’s AI-powered chatbot solution for hoteliers increases direct bookings and personalizes the guest experience. Trilyo is a powerful tool that doesn’t break the bank and provides measurable value to independents of all sizes.
A sample of the results reported by hotels using Trilyo’s chatbot solution.
Keyless entry allows guests to access their rooms without the need of a keycard or physical key, usually by way of an access code sent to their mobile device. Keyless entry is secure because the key is encrypted and registered with the guests’ unique phone number so it can’t be transferred. The keycode also expires at checkout so it can’t be reused.
A recent study by Hospitality Technology highlighted the growing demand for keyless entry: 60% of respondents said that they had stayed at a smart hotel, with 22% reportedly using the keyless locks. Travelport Digital found that 50% travelers wanted to use a mobile device to access their rooms.
Keyless entry is a growing trend that can be leveraged by independent hoteliers and hosts with technology like FLEXIPASS. The company offers simple two-step keyless entry that doesn’t require any additional data entry. It connects directly to your PMS to issue keys automatically.
Guests can access their room by first downloading the FLEXIPASS app and then using the code generated at reception to access their room. Property owners enjoy a dual benefit: offering a modern and easy-to-use service to their guests that also conserves money and time associated with managing physical keys or cards.
The FLEXIPASS app allows independent properties to offer guests keyless entry.
Another keyless entry option is Lynx. Lynx not only allows guests to complete self check in/check out with time-sensitive keyless entry, it also connects with other smart devices so you can automate temperature control, lights, smoke sensors, and more.
If there’s one tech-based hotel trend that connects travelers from around the world, it’s the importance of the smartphone. A Google/Phocuswright study underscores the importance of mobile phones for travelers: 70% always use their smartphones when traveling, which is up nearly 30% over the past four years.
For budget-conscious independent properties, the traveler dependency on their smartphone can be leveraged to provide a better guest experience without investing in more labor or expensive technology. When the guest’s smartphone transforms into a mobile concierge, properties can deliver more personalized experiences.
For travelers, a mobile concierge empowers them to shape their own experience. With the ability to ask questions in real-time, access property information, and explore local recommendations, travelers feel more confident and satisfied – a potent combination facilitated by today’s mobile concierge technology, such as Hello Here.
Hello Here helps vacation rental hosts and smaller independents provide a seamless and unique guest experience by providing guests with important information like check-in details, WiFi code, house rules, and your local recommendations for dining, attractions, and more. Hello Here’s intuitive mobile app includes multi-property messaging and a group or individual guest chat for communicating real-time concierge information. There are also automated messages to get the best information to guests quickly. An added advantage for hosts: the ability to earn more revenue by upselling additional activities and services to guests.
Oaky works similarly, and helps properties maximize their profits and improve guest experience by providing guests with best-selling upsell offers and personalized deals via perfectly-timed guest communication. The service puts guests in control of designing their stay with upsell options from airport transfer and room upgrades to adding breakfast and buying museum tickets.
Sharing data seamlessly and securely across systems has become a competitive advantage, especially in travel. First, customers don’t want to have to enter information twice. Second, your property can provide a better, more consistent experience when guest data is synced between your PMS and any added tech-based services you plan to use.
So how can small independent properties harness the power of seamless sync, without breaking their budget? One word: Integrations. As you evaluate potential third-party apps, services, and tools to help you enhance guest experience, check if they will easily integrate with your PMS. That way you’re not only creating a frictionless experience for your guests, but you’re also making things easier for your team (fewer mistakes and less manual entry).
An integrated approach to your technology means fewer headaches, more consistency, and a better overall experience. As you begin to solve problems with technology, pull it all together with seamless sync so your property operates at peak performance! This is the best and most budget-friendly way to implement tech-based hotel trends at your independent property.
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Isis is on the marketing team at Cloudbeds where she gets to put her M.A. in Writing, passion for travel, and hospitality experience to good use as Content Coordinator. Brazilian born, South Florida raised, she now lives in sunny San Diego, home to Cloudbeds headquarters. When she’s not busy researching and writing everything travel and hospitality tech you can find her at the dog beach with her pug, young son, and hubby – or plotting her next trip.