Hotel reviews and websites create expectation yet the moment a guest arrives, it is all about the experience. Enjoyment translates into loyalty and positive word of mouth.
Many hotel brands are recognising that in-room technology is appealing to millennials as a way of making stays more personalised and convenient. Guests increasingly see their smartphones as a way of linking to a hotel’s ‘concierge for a digital age’ and they want to use their own smartphone apps in their rooms and shared spaces.
A growing number of hotels offer guests the ability to stream their Netflix onto their room’s television. Others enable control of lighting and thermostats remotely via their app. Some hotels have even added an Amazon Echo unit so that guests can stream music, check the weather and search for local things to do via voice command.
Anvar Sagdullaev, Digital Services Network and Systems Manager at AccorHotels, a CMS client, said, “We are expanding not just in bricks and mortar but in the rest of the business. Competition is healthy so we do not aim to cut out the disruptors, but improve on what they are doing so we remain the best.”
The world is also becoming more health conscious and fitness focused.
More than a quarter of millennial travellers describe ‘natural and healthy’ as important in their holiday choices. Hilton has already embraced this by creating the Five Feet to Fitness room concept which enables guests to exercise in the privacy of their room. A computer kiosk provides over 200 guided exercise tutorials and classes as well as different fitness equipment and accessory options.
According to a CMS report, getting the basics of technology in hotels right should be the priority – and more advanced technologies are not as essential. 89% of millennials say their personal devices should be easily connected to in-room technology and 92% expect there to be free high-speed WiFi in their rooms. Climate control and apps for hotel services also featured highly and 63% of millennials would happily forfeit some room space for a high-tech room with features such as Google's Nest smart technology. In contrast, only 20% of millennials would like to see voice-based in-room technologies in hotel rooms like Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant, and only 20% want digital door keys through a mobile device.
CMS client CitizenM was an early pioneer of the high-tech hotel experience and has expanded swiftly with multiple new launches in Europe, the Americas and Asia in recent years. Lennert De Jong, Chief Commercial Officer at CitizenM, said, “We are moving towards becoming an IT and tech company rather than just a bricks and mortar company.”
In some respects, hoteliers seem to be on the right track. 70% have introduced high-speed WiFi over the last 12 months and 59% have introduced apps for hotel services. However, in several areas they appear to have misjudged millennial demand for certain features. So far, only 35% have introduced climate control technologies. 23% have introduced digital interactive screens, with a further 20% planning to do so in the next 12 months, despite only 18% of millennials ranking this as a particularly desirable feature. A similar pattern emerges for other high-tech features such as automated room service delivery.