It takes 21 days to form a habit. Many of us had over 365 days of working from home to build new ones.
As business and personal travel returns, it’s creating a bit of anxiety for travelers who have to re-train themselves away from these new habits. Think about it: change can be stressful so it makes sense that getting back on the road can cause angst. But what if hotels could help ease the tension by bringing in the comforts of home with subtle changes? Let’s take a look at some of our most common new habits and how hoteliers can effectively adjust.
A New Relationship with Our Phones
There are currently 3.8 billion smartphone users worldwide, and recent data indicates that pandemic phone usage was up 40%, with the average person checking their phone 58 times per day. Whether it’s work calls, browsing social media, FaceTime calls with family, ordering DoorDash or scheduling appointments for the kids, mobile devices are almost an extension of ourselves. Working, relaxing, organizing and venting – they do it all.
Knowing that most people bring their mobile devices (BYOD) everywhere, and 86% of hotel guests travel with two or more devices, it’s important for hotels to rethink the guest journey by creating a mobile-first approach. Using mobile for check-ins, digital keys, getting hotel information, connecting to in-room entertainment, making requests and checking out, guests can choose to engage with the hotel on their own terms. As a convenience, hotels should have charging devices in common areas and extra charging cords for their guests to borrow/purchase in the event they forgot theirs at home.
Streaming What We Want, When We Want
With more time at home due to the lack of commutes and no flights to meet with customers, the number of streaming service subscriptions surpassed 1.1 billion in the last year. The trend of “cutting the cord” and moving away from premium channels and cable exponentially grew, and the comfort of watching what they want, when they want, has become a new habit for guests.
Similarly for travel, hotels can upgrade their in-room entertainment with TV Casting. It lets guests use their own devices to play their favorite content on the in-room TV. Unlike screen mirroring, casting designed for hotels allows guests to multitask and use the same connected device for work or social feeds. Guests bring their own content (thousands of apps) – in whatever language and from whatever genre they choose – and can easily stream the latest Neftlix episode, for example. Also, it’s a secure connection; no passwords are shared with the hotel, and it causes less friction points by eliminating the need to remember login credentials. It’s a simple upgrade that quickly boosts guest satisfaction and adds to the in-room amenities, as well as offers a competitive differentiator for the hotel.
Seamless Connectivity in Every Room of the House
The lockdown workday started with rolling out of bed and walking to your workspace in the kitchen, then rotating to different comfortable spots around the house or outside without getting cut off of the Wi-Fi. Easy, simple and secure.
Hotels are already embracing Passpoint solutions to create quick Wi-Fi authentication and access connections wherever guests travel. In addition, it will allow the guest to roam the hotel property without having to re-authenticate their secure device, just like at home. Typically across brands, it’s the same instant experience at any of that brand’s hotels as well.
For rewards members visiting their favorite hotel, every time they are welcomed back to the property, their phone is authenticated instantly. Maybe they want to work from their favorite coffee shop or from a train or plane while commuting? Same thing – instant access every time, regardless of the location. This experience is becoming the norm throughout all touchpoints of travel and can ease the fear of not being connected throughout the guest journey.
Using voice assistants to get stuff done
Hey, (insert any home voice assistant), order more laundry detergent. Call my cousin, Ann. Schedule a reminder for my social-distanced park get-together with the neighbors.
The global smart speaker market is projected to reach $17.85 billion in 2025. The convenience and comfortability of using this technology across age groups is continuing to rise, and this addition in hotel rooms creates a little bit of home with the instant gratification and comfort guests want. In-room assistants, for example, can fulfill additional service item requests, answer hotel questions, provide local recommendations, set wake up calls, play music and get almost anything guests may want – 24/7. It saves staff time by decreasing phone calls and creates more efficient processes by routing requests to the right team members.
It can also control lights, temperature, curtains and the TV – all via simple voice commands. Guests can personalize their experience, stay organized with their digital personal assistant and feel those same comforts of home with the luxury of staying in a hotel.
WFH Calls Around the Clock While Family Hogs the Bandwidth
Nothing is worse than trying to participate in video conference calls and getting error messages because roommates or family members are hogging the bandwidth to stream shows, distance learn or do gaming. Though sometimes unavoidable at home, when staying at a hotel, guests expect the best from their internet connection with a reasonable amount of bandwidth.
It’s critical for hotels to provide strong, secure Wi-Fi to cover all the same tasks someone might need to do at home. And at peak times, everyone should be able to have Wi-Fi performance without having another guest slow down the network. Easily stream popular shows for the family, video chat with work colleagues, browse social media or shop at a favorite online store.
Letting the Roomba Do It
Robots are becoming a part of everyday life. While it may seem like being at home all the time would have given everyone more time to clean and organize, it seemed to do the opposite in many cases. The excessive sanitizing of every surface led to cleaning burnout. And sometimes letting the robot vacuum the house made a huge difference. From fridges that update grocery lists to robots that feed and entertain pets, homes are getting smarter and more helpful.
Beyond the heightened cleaning standards, hotels should think about bringing more digitization and automation into their properties. Clear communication before and during stays lets guests know what to expect and feel comfortable. Digital signage throughout the hotel property is becoming a critical communication device that can be updated instantaneously via the cloud and onsite media player.
Additionally, just like at home, robots can take on the jobs to help keep up those cleaning standards, assist with social distancing and provide services. Automated vacuums and UV-disinfection robots are on staff for those deep cleans. Some hotels have also adopted a robotic concierge in the lobby that can be available to take temperatures, port luggage, offer local recommendations or help answer requests. Lastly, clean, calming smells sprayed into the air combined with relaxing music can also appeal to the senses to create a relaxed ambiance when guests step into common areas.
Everything is set up the way we like it
At home, everyone knows our name. And all of our favorite snacks, thermostat settings, and pre-settings for music stations are all saved and customized throughout our homes. All of our likes (and dislikes) are probably known with the other members of our households… especially after all the time we’ve spent at home with them in recent months.
In a time where data is readily tracked and shared, it’s no surprise that more than 75% of all consumers are willing to share data to receive personalized offers, more efficient and intuitive services and competitive pricing. Thanks to loyalty programs and guest profiles, hotels often have access to the data necessary to truly personalize the guest experience.
While staff may no longer be greeting guests by name with a friendly smile, in-room assistants or digital signage can offer a personal welcome message to a room that is prepared to a guest’s liking: preferred temperature, curtains drawn and jazz music playing. A family might appreciate extra towels ready and waiting after a long day at the pool. Send that work conference group an exclusive post-event happy hour offer. Even with less contact, there are ways to make guests feel right at home.
As business travelers get back on the road, let them come back to a reimagined experience that aligns with their new home habits. Anxieties don’t have to cause everyone to relearn or go back to the way things were. Comfort and ease can be built into all touch points – with or without staff – to create a new and improved experience that will usher in a new generation of bleisure travel.
For more information and a helpful checklist, check out our free ebook on this topic.
Paul Payette, Vice President, Strategic Relations at Nomadix:
A hospitality veteran with more than 20 years of experience growing global business and leading sales, strategic partnerships, marketing and strategic planning. He previously served as Vice President, Business Development for TTI, Inc. Prior to that, Paul served in strategic relationship and leadership roles as Vice President & General Manager Digital Solutions at Pinnacle Communications, Senior Vice President of Global Business Development and Strategic Partnerships at Uniguest and Senior Director at Choice Hotels. Payette is a United States Air Force Veteran and was decorated for Heroism.
The original post appeared in Hotel Executive.