In this blog series, we’re going to look at several advances in technology that are helping hotel owners and operators meet and exceed their business and sustainability goals while controlling costs. We’ll start with one of the most critical factors for any business in the hospitality industry: guest experience.
As the global hotel market continues to grow, consolidation is leading to larger brands. But sub-brands and individual properties still need to differentiate. And the battle for mindshare and attracting customers is getting tougher. Not only are hotels in competition with new types of lodging players like Airbnb, but the demographics and expectations of travelers are also changing.
Welcome to the Millennials’ World
By 2030, 1.8 billion people will be traveling annually and, even today, millennials comprise the vast majority of travelers. They also represent 50% of all hotel guests. This generation is tech-savvy, connected, and want control of their lives. They’re constantly on the move in a fast-changing digital world and want to take full advantage of it. In addition, the majority of millennial parents’ hotel choices are influenced by their continuously-connected Gen-Z children that expect an “app for everything.”
This has resulted in a new set of digital customer values that are setting expectations high for their choice of accommodations. This generation still wants authenticity, comfort, and convenience, but now they want their stay to be personalized – even ‘co-created.’ They also want a fast, seamless, trouble-free experience, from check in to check out. Without this, there is little chance of building and keeping their loyalty.
And satisfaction and loyalty are key to maintaining and growing occupancy rate, revenue per available room (RevPAR), and average daily room rate (ADR). As a millennial’s first step is online research, it’s critical that a hotel collects as many positive social media mentions, 5-star reviews, and influencer recommendations as possible. In fact, according to Cornell Hospitality Reports, if a hotel increases its review scores by 1 point on a 5-point scale, it can raise its price by 11.2% and still maintain the same occupancy and market share.
Encouraging those reviews from increasingly demanding guests is the new challenge. To meet it requires the best of new technology.
The Ultimate Personalized Experience
New guest room management systems (GRMS) are helping deliver a frictionless and engaging experience to guests, while building a closer, more direct relationship with hotel brands. It starts with guests who can use their own personal devices as command central to simply select a room, check in and out, and gain digital key room access.
Front desk staff can immediately begin to deliver a personalized experience for the guest by preparing room settings while the guest is checking in. Guest personal preferences (e.g. temperature, language, etc.) can be stored and saved for the current and future visits. In Portugal, Evolution Lisboa Hotel gives guests the ability to control their room lighting, curtains, and temperature through their personal smart devices and room TV. While guests enjoy an interactive experience, staff are using hotel-wide monitoring and control to save an estimated 40% on energy costs.
A GRMS also helps improve the efficiency and productivity of staff, since they can quickly see when rooms are unoccupied and understand the room environment through a software interface. In fact, the best GRMS enable hotel personnel to view a wide range of room conditions, from occupancy, energy use, temperature, and humidity, to maintenance needs. The status of a room’s HVAC settings, curtain, do not disturb (DND) / make up room (MUR), door, and window status can also be reviewed.
For the guest, the room experience becomes fully customizable. A bedside panel or tablet, or their own mobile device can be used to control the room environment, including temperature, heating, lighting, curtains, room scenes, entertainment, services, etc.
With all these communication channels available, the hotel can send branded, targeted messages and offers to the room based on the customer’s profile. Imagine an invitation to the lounge’s happy hour timed perfectly to appear in each guest room.
No Problems Means No Complaints
Studies have shown that guest room problems represent 42% of all hotel complaints. These problems can decrease loyalty by over 11 percentage points. Hotels need to ensure all systems are always functioning optimally.
Guest room management systems help engineering teams manage maintenance, repair, and up-keep for entire properties, whether personnel are on- or off-site. The GRMS monitors and controls conditions in the room and troubleshoots problems remotely. If a problem occurs, an alarm notification to maintenance staff helps them respond quickly, often before the guest is even aware of the issue.
Equipment performance trending and reporting help teams be more proactive with maintenance. This will maximize service continuity, as well as minimize maintenance costs and extend equipment life.
Going Green for Guests and the Bottom Line
Millennials care about the planet and will often make buying decisions based on a brand’s ability to demonstrate climate stewardship. This includes energy efficiency. And since guest rooms can represent 40 to 80 percent of total hotel energy consumption, finding ways to reduce that expense can also significantly impact the bottom line.
Guests typically only spend eight hours or less per day in their rooms. When unoccupied, rooms are often left with HVAC and lights running wasting energy and money. A GRMS can integrate guest presence detectors and door status data. When the system detects a room is unoccupied, heating or cooling goes into setback mode, curtains are closed, and lights turned off. And thanks to integration with the hotel’s property management system, unrented rooms automatically go into deep setback mode for further savings.
When the guest returns, all settings will be restored as the guest enters the room. According to Navigant Research1, minimizing the runtime of HVAC systems in guest rooms can reduce energy costs from 15% to 20%. At Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg, Canada, occupancy-based energy management is helping them save 20% in energy consumption and offering full control of settings in guest rooms has meant that complaints have “all but vanished.”
In addition, the full visibility and control of HVAC, lighting, and metering systems that a GRMS offers will help keep everything operating at peak performance. It’s a win-win for hotel and guests, improving efficiency, sustainability, and the guest experience, while boosting the brand’s sustainability image.
Schneider Electric offers a complete range of solutions for hotels, including guest room management solutions that can deliver a sophisticated, connected, customizable, and trouble-free experience. Discover more here. In my next post, we’ll look closer at how guest experience is enhanced by IoT connectivity.