Hospitality Tech Your Guests Will Expect in 2021 and Beyond

November 30, 2020

As your guests start to return in 2021 will your hotel meet their expectations? The majority of people will still wonder whether or not it is worth travelling at all and those who do make that leap will look for hotels that made the effort to prepare for a digital “new normal.” Guests will undoubtedly expect more control over their experience and they’ll look to their smartphones for that control and enhanced convenience.

This transformation has been happening for years and has now been escalated and super charged by the events of 2020. However, digital technologies that hotels are now prioritizing have to rise above the fluff. They have to answer to changing guest expectations and act as an extension of human interactions and the enabler of new ways of traveling, working, and living.

Now is the perfect time for hotels to ask themselves what their guests’ expectations will be like in 2021 and how they can meet those expectations through technology. As the saying goes, preparation is half the battle so let’s see what changes you need to make before the return of guests in mass.

Digital-first guest experiences

Going forward, your guests will expect more autonomy over their experience and they’ll want to feel in control of their stay. This means using their personal devices to handle most of their interactions with your hotel throughout their stay, from booking to checkout.

Accelerating and digitizing key touch points across the guest journey with the right technology solutions will give you an opportunity to provide a more frictionless service to guests. The idea is to help your guests feel well catered  to even when you can’t provide a traditional, high touch service.

So, what does this mean in practice? Here’s a checklist of items that you need to consider:

  • Enable guests to book services and activities ahead of time via messaging or a simple web app.
  • Digitize the check-in/check-out process with mobile keys and contactless entry to eliminate queuing at the front desk and give guests the sense of safety and control they are looking for.
  • Open up new communication channels with guests, such as digital concierge or video chat, to minimize in-person interactions.
  • Enable access to as many services as possible via smartphones, including F&B ordering, room service requests, car rental, etc.
  • Improved payment options - contactless, web forms, Apple pay and Google pay.

All of the above can be handled with a guest experience platform like avery and thoughtful integrations with relevant third party solution providers.

Highly personalized service and offers

Digitalization introduces one huge benefit for hotels - it enables them to learn more about their guests than they ever thought possible. Every digital interaction can be tracked, documented, and analyzed, helping you build a guest profile based on real preferences, previous behavior and purchases, etc.

Having this level of insight into your guests’ interests, needs, and preferences allows you to tailor your services and deliver highly relevant offers. This has a positive impact on revenue and can also enhance your guests’ stay and make them more likely to book with you again.

“89% of hoteliers say that targeted personalization is one of the best ways to improve the guest experience.” – Source

Let’s look at some examples of personalization that drives guest interaction and improve upsell/cross-sell:

  • Send tailored offers based on guest preferences. For example, offering a family package to guests traveling with children.
  • Suggesting activities based on previous stay data. If a guest booked a biking tour from one of your partners during their last visit, you can offer a similar activity.
  • Take advantage of relevant upsell opportunities. When done right, upselling helps you increase RevPar but it also increases guest satisfaction through service personalization and added value.
  • Keep track of important events. If you know when your guest is celebrating a special occasion you can prepare an in-room surprise or send an automated, personalized message with a special offer/discount.

One of the best channels to use to deliver personalized offers to guests at scale is automated guest messaging. A solution like this allows you to automatically send relevant offers based on historical data or predefined triggers (e.g. upon arrival, prior to checking out, etc.).

Experiential travel

After nearly a complete standstill of the hospitality industry as a whole during 2020, many hotels will focus their 2021 efforts on improving occupancy and increasing revenue.

And this makes total sense, but...Your revenue strategy needs to be in sync with your guests’ expectations. As people start traveling again, they are going to look for more than a pretty room and safe and comfortable stay. They will be hungry for immersive, authentic travel experiences.

The proof that people have been craving experiential travel is the success of services like Skipti and Airbnb and the offers they provide for activities led by local experts, including things like culinary tours, historic biking tours, arts & crafts experiences, and so much more.

So, how can your hotel provide memorable experiences to guests that will enhance their stay? You can encourage guests to experience the destination to the fullest by offering memorable tours and activities in partnership with local operators.

Using the right digital platform you can create a program that enables both your hotel and local tour and activity operators to capitalize on this revenue opportunity.

Here’s what you could do with a platform like avery:

  • Promote experiential offerings to guests via SMS, Apple Business Chat, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or via in-app notifications
  • Send timely offers for stand-alone experiences or create tailored stay-and-play packages.

Takeaways

Improving their digital capacity across the entirety of the guest experience has never been more important for hotels than now. But it's also important to remember that technology serves as an enabler, a way to better service guests in the future and meet their needs.

The best way to understand what your next technology investment should be? Keep an eye on changing customer expectations around health, safety, travel experiences, etc. and see how you can meet those with innovative hospitality solutions.