When refurbishing a property, sometimes a resort’s management and HOA need to look beyond a designing a pretty landscaping project or remodeling interiors. Last year I wrote about the positive impact of modern-day refurbishments, based on what consumers expect. In the case of the Links Golf and Racquet Club in North Myrtle Beach, our team at Defender Resorts and the property’s HOA recognized that modern-day visitors were demanding the same high-speed internet access that a hotel characteristically offers.

In my article, published in the October 2016 issue of Resort Trades entitled, “Modern Day Refurbishment,” I wrote, “We know that strong internet connectivity and Wi-Fi is more important than ever because we are all connected with smart devices. A 2015 study by Pew Research Center found that 68% of adults have smartphones, 45% have tablets and 86% of those aged 18-29 have smartphones. Being able to use these devices, watch our videos, check out email, stay in touch on our social networks – all without draining our data plans is vital to a positive guest experience at a resort.

“According to a Gallup poll, customers put “internet connectivity, a comfortable bed and responsive employees” as the top things travelers seek; so much so that they would pay a higher premium rate to stay at a resort that guaranteed these.”

In the article, I detailed the Links investing in the installation of fiber optic cable to run the wireless internet at the resort. It’s been a year since and so far the effects have been positive. As wireless access is one of the most important things people look for in a resort, the Links has not received a single negative comment about their wireless service since the installation. In addition, the system is set up in a way that allows them to collect data from guests and improve their marketing efforts.

Technology Wins It All

As with the Links Golf and Racquet Club, technological advancements with resorts are always a good place to start. The best way to determine what technological advancements are best for your property is to look at its weakest points.

In her article, “Bluebeard’s Castle Goes Green,” published in the October 2013 issue of Resort Trades, Hatton Gravely wrote, “It ain’t easy being green.

“The President of the Hilltop Villas Association at Bluebeard’s Castle Resort, Scott Williams, can verify Kermit the Frog’s famous statement. He led the ‘green’ efforts at Bluebeard’s Castle Resort to make the property more energy efficient and sustainable.

“Energy is not a cheap commodity in the US Virgin Islands, and when the price of power reached 52 cents per kilowatt-hour, the Board knew they needed to search for alternative energy sources. In the past 3 years, solar panels have reduced in price, which made this project a viable option.”

At Bluebeard’s Castle in St. Thomas, soaring electric bills were a becoming a larger issue each year, so in 2013 they completed the installation of 1,887 solar panels. Since their inception, the resort has been able to produce a large amount of its energy and decrease energy bills and reliance on the islands energy providers.

Additional technology-related ideas can include televisions with ports and cords or Roku sticks for people to be able to stream through their Netflix and Hulu accounts. Some resorts have even gone as far as developing a localized app that allows guests to make local dinner reservations, view local happenings and much more.

Investing in lamps and other lighting fixtures that not only have plugins but USB charging ports can be an advantage as well. According to a research study by Pew the average consumer has 3.64 devices which means they have multiple chargers and a need for multiple charging ports in order to be happy.

There’s a trend in new hotels for developing social gathering spaces where people can interact with other guests. When reviewing refurbishment possibilities look to see if there are any wasted common areas that can be turned into comfortable seating, game rooms, fire pit or other added social amenities.

Don’t Leave People Guessing

All your efforts for improving your resort don’t go very far unless they are very clearly shared with the world. People can’t get a sense of how comfortable your beds are or how fast your internet is by simply hiding this information in a list of resort amenities.

So, make sure your website clearly highlights what your refurbishments are and how they affect guest satisfaction. Don’t just say you have fiber optic internet. Say that you have “fiber optic internet fast and strong enough that each guest room can stream video through up to four devices.” That second statement highlights exactly what guests are getting with this upgrade since “high-speed wireless” is often an overused and overpromised term.

Overall, no matter what renovations your resort completes, they need to always keep the guest in mind. Before any decisions are made everyone should step back and ask “what are we currently lacking that would greatly improve guest satisfaction and enjoyment at this property?” Take a look at your comment cards and online reviews. These can be the best portal into determining exactly what guests feel your resort is missing.

Kelley Ellert, Director of Marketing at Defender Resorts, based in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. She has been with Defender Resorts for more than five years overseeing the marketing and online content of the 28 resorts in their management portfolio.