We all know there is nothing more permanent in life than change, and that holds no truer meaning than when it comes to technology, especially as it relates to the growing trend of personalizing customer experiences in the hospitality industry.
Guests no longer anticipate, but expect the digital comforts of home to translate into their vacations. Thanks to the continued intersection of technology and our day-to-day experiences, plus the efforts by which the non-traditional players leverage these technologies, flexibility and convenience have become synonymous with travel.
As more and more consumers started using platforms such as Airbnb and VRBO, other leaders in the traditional hospitality industry were forced to think differently. By allowing guests to transact the entire process online — from booking to payment and even accessing their rooms, it kicked off a revolutionary wave where one’s travel experience could be controlled from a smart phone. As a result of this new era, it became evident that certain conveniences, such as digital room check-in, would see success if adopted by hoteliers. This shift also fostered creativity and helped hotels see the realm of possibilities of further transformation of the check-in process. Instead of receiving a physical key card coded to one’s room, increasingly, guests were presented with the option of using their mobile phones as digital keys to open their rooms. The mindless motion of pulling a phone out of a pocket now employed greater utility.
But the tailored experience hotels created by weaving in one’s personal technology didn’t stop at the door.
The rise of online streaming services presented a unique opportunity for hotels to enhance guests’ time in their rooms by incorporating a seemingly minor luxury. Many hotels now feature Smart TVs that let guests link their personal online streaming accounts, so they can continue to watch their favorite series, while others offer devices that allow visitors to cast shows from their mobile or laptop device, no HDMI cord required. These offerings, once again, give guests full control of their experience so they can tailor their time away from home to their personal needs.
And while hotels have never been strangers to personalized service, technology has helped add another positive layer to that experience. Increasingly, digital assistants and speakers, such Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomePod, etc., are being integrated into a room’s amenities, as they create an environment many Americans now find normal and comfortable. Through these devices, guests can contact customer service and receive support that’s non-intrusive. In turn, customer service can leave voice messages for guests that are retrievable when they return to their rooms. Moreover, this technology has become woven into the room’s functionalities from turning on lights to temperature adjustment. These simple conveniences have built an atmosphere where the guest can feel as if they’re receiving a custom and unique experience. At Diamond Resorts, we have been testing SMS technology that would let members, owners and guests have instant contact with the front desk, or receive important resort information without having to check their in-room phone.
Regardless of its function, technology has had a profound impact on how the hospitality industry approaches customer satisfaction. The industry has experienced major changes in the past few years and is working to adapt technology usage so it can best serve their guests. Forget the “plugged in versus unplugged on vacation” debate and consider how your organization can embrace technology to better offer guests an enriched and personalized experience.
Mike Flaskey, CEO of Diamond Resorts, has more than 20 years of senior leadership experience in public and privately-held companies, with a key focus on growth-oriented companies within the vacation ownership industry. He previously held the position of Executive Vice President and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer for Diamond Resorts from 2014 to 2016, and Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, North America for Diamond Resorts from 2010 to 2014. Throughout Mr. Flaskey’s tenure at Diamond Resorts, the Company has achieved unprecedented growth both organically and through strategic acquisition integration, as he has shifted the traditional timeshare marketing and sales model to a hospitality-infused process that includes a high-touch upstream engagement stance, providing guests with a service-first approach to marketing and sales.