Hospitality technology: the solution for the best-in-class customer experience

By Ashley Williams

The customer experience (CX) has taken center stage in the hospitality industry as hotels refocus on delivering personalized, frictionless experiences. Hotels that were often considered simple getaway destinations for travelers have shifted to a hub of activities that rely heavily on technology to support hotel operations and the guest experience.

From adopting a modern unified communications stack to an accelerated migration toward cloud-based solutions, technology plays a pivotal role in the hospitality industry by ensuring the best service possible.

Today’s tech-savvy, hygiene-conscious travelers’ expectations are rapidly accelerating, and it’s becoming increasingly critical for the hospitality industry to ramp up their customer experience efforts and identify new opportunities, from check-in to check-out.

To address that, industry leaders must adopt these technology trends to drive growth and manage customer expectations.

Unified Communications—the new approach to bettering the customer experience

Unified Communications, or UC, isn’t just about telephony anymore. Over the last two-plus years, UC has driven growth across many industries, including hospitality, by guiding customers through every step of their journey while building customer confidence and loyalty. Modern UC solutions aid in improving the customer experience because it centralizes and simplifies your organization’s day-to-day operations.

From enhanced back-office administration to flexible and future-proof technology, advanced hospitality communication solutions backed by a modernized UC stack, whether on-premise, in the cloud, or a mix of both, allow you to effectively communicate with new and returning guests, personalizing the experience in every two-way conversation.

When integrated into business processes, UC solutions yield better employee experiences, ultimately producing better customer experiences. The shift to hybrid and remote work has dispersed the workforce across time zones and geographies. Legacy communications solutions tend to lack the ability to support seamless and efficient customer experiences, which is imperative in today’s competitive landscape. Today’s UC allows employees to perform their duties at a high level, improving productivity. By providing more clarity and insight into project statuses and day-to-day operations, employees can quickly assist and rectify customer needs, whether at the front desk or handling reservations from home.
Modern UC also allows organizations to integrate other emerging technologies, like AI, easily.

AI boom is here

Fit for the speed and mobility required to be a world-class hospitality brand, AI is a trend that is changing the way guests are served. Automation, integrated with modern business communications, removes barriers and errors, ensuring clear communication with travelers no matter where they are from.

AI helps deliver a higher level of efficiency and effective results, minimizing guest management time and effort. For example, instead of waiting on the phone to speak with a representative to book your reservation, chatbots can answer online queries, providing service immediately. Robots can even take towels to a guest’s room, allowing staff to focus on personalized service elsewhere.

Self-check-in kiosks remove unnecessary waiting times after long travel days and tedious check-in routines. Customers can get in and get out to tour their favorite city while enjoying a personalized experience.

Smart hotel technology

Smart room technology enhances the customer experience. Features like touchless locks allow guests to unlock their room doors with their smartphones. Guests can use smart sensors to customize their rooms just how they want them without relying on calls to the front desk. From room temperature to lighting and air conditioning—all can be adjusted from the comfort of their hands.

When linked to guest experience applications, this technology can reduce room turnaround times by helping staff identify when a guest has checked out. Rooms can be cleaned, prepared and released to the next guest more efficiently.

Wearable technology for employee safety

Beyond streamlining day-to-day operations, technology can also help address specific concerns. For example, adopting wearable technology, including emergency safety devices (ESDs), for hospitality staff can provide security for workers working an early morning or late-night shift. A growing number of states and local governments have laws in place to require them and for good reason.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), nearly 2 million Americans are victims of violence in the workplace every year. Wearables help reduce the fear and insecurities employees may feel when working independently. In an emergency, staff can quickly call for help, connecting them with security or directly to 911.

While still developing, wearable technology offers employees and managers a reliable, flexible safety option. It will only become more advanced and further integrated into business communications over the coming years.

Success through data collection

Data is at the heart of hotel success because it unearths opportunities and mitigates risk. With real-time data, industry leaders will know how their guests want to interact with their staff, their preferences and amenities on hotel property, impacting business decisions.

With real-time insights backed by modern UC, hotel leaders can save guest profiles with particular preferences to ensure a consistent experience every time. Data collection also allows for increased personalization at every step of the process. You’ll see booking patterns, what your guests prioritize and what amenities and promotions they respond to, allowing you to create curated perks specific to that customer.

Do technology solutions increase the customer experience?

In short, yes. Technology is shaping the future of the hospitality industry, and hospitality leaders need to make sure they have modern communication tools in place to meet customer needs and ensure employee satisfaction. As the hospitality industry proceeds into uncharted territory, it’ll need dependable and flexible tech solutions that continue to serve its customers and employees wherever they are.

Ashley Williams is hospitality GM at Mitel.

This is a contributed piece to Hotel Business, authored by an industry professional. The thoughts expressed are the perspective of the bylined individual.