It’s no secret that we live in a technologically-driven society, and with the Mini iPad, iPhone 5, Microsoft’s Surface and other gadgets and tools emerging onto the scene last year, the hotel industry has been encouraged now more than ever to change its resources and operations. In 2012, many hotel chains adopted digital perks from apps to iPads at the check-in desk to direct social media interaction to cater to its tech-savvy guests. These hotels have seen widespread benefit in appeasing not only business travelers, but all guests needing to be constantly plugged in.
Unfortunately for hotel operators, these new-age techies expect more than just high-speed internet and online booking opportunities. In order to truly impress, hotels need to think further into the future, and bring in reservations by offering the latest and greatest in the digital space. According to Bjorn Hanson, divisional dean of the Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management at New York University, “[The younger travelers’] expectations are higher. Their work is affected more when current technology is not available. They want technology wherever they are, whenever they need it. [And] for baby boomers, a hotel can be a place to try technology that they have not yet purchased.”
Last year, hotels took baby steps to get into the tech scene, and the first, and maybe most obvious, place to start for many was social media engagement, and integrating online interactions with real-life hotel operations. For example, this year, the Ritz-Carlton Resorts of Naples asked Facebook fans how they take their coffee, and those who answered and then booked a reservation, received their morning coffee exactly to their liking without even ordering first – now that’s true customer service.
The surge in social and advanced technology has brought on added pressure for hotels to catch on and catch up. But, here’s the problem – it’s not enough just to start a Facebook page and let it run inattentively; hotel staffers need to stay involved and introduce resources for guests to stay connected without having to exert any effort or pay extravagant fees. Many hotels are trying to profit from technology trends, but the easiest way to stand out is to offer these assets on the customers’ terms, and without their expense.
2012 introduced the beginning of a real push for technological awareness among hoteliers and operators, but we will soon see an even stronger momentum in this category. Especially for mid to large hotels, operations that are not in the digital space will no longer be accepted, and guests’ expectations of tech innovation will grow. At this point, it’s just an added surprise and excitement if travelers can order room service on an iPad or receive a tweet from their hotel’s Twitter handle, but soon, it’s sure to become “the norm.”
So what’s next for hotels and technology? Full-service travel counseling through a hotel’s app? Voice and gesture controlled rooms? Guess we’ll have to wait and see!
About the author
Heather Thomas is the PR Coordinator for Vagabond Inn Corporation (www.vagabondinn.com), a West Coast franchisor of mid-range hotels. She leads communication for more than 40 properties and maintains correspondence between hoteliers and valued guests.
About Vagabond Inn Corporation
At Vagabond Inn, the “great value, friendly people” pledge is more than a slogan – it is a promise to deliver comfortable accommodations, quality amenities, pleasant staff, affordable prices and old-fashioned, Western hospitality to each and every guest. Since its introduction in 1958 as Vagabond Motor Hotels, the corporation has established more than 40 locations in California, Nevada and Oregon, ranging in size from 25 to 200 guest rooms. The brand has grown further with the introduction of Vagabond Inn Executive, which meets the needs of cost-conscious business travelers. As a franchise, Vagabond Inn continues to collaborate with franchisees to expand throughout California and the surrounding states. For more information or to make a reservation, please visit Vagabond Inn.