INNOVATE

Technology – Hotel Innovation: Building a Brand

pages49-1

March 28, 2016   |   By Adam Billings

Launching a new hotel brand used to be done using a well thought-out and meticulously executed plan, based on research that was five or more years in the making. By launch date, every detail from design to operations was curated, tested and approved for the target guest. The roadmap was clear and the goals were heavily defined. The identity of the brand has always been a product of past experience.

That was until the lodging industry started building brands specifically for Millennials. Now, it’s a common occurrence for a new brand to launch every quarter. The shortened timeline is part of the race to be relevant for this aging demographic that demands products to be made specifically for them. New brands have become incubators of technology and innovation, instead of finished products. Luckily for investors, Millennials will trade polish for effort, as long as they believe in the authenticity of the story.

This new platform is ripe for the speed at which technology drives consumer spend. At the same time IoT (Internet of Things) is starting to infiltrate our homes and making them smarter, these hotel brands are adopting similar innovations. Having an iPod clock radio (even with the new iPhone plug) just doesn’t cut it anymore. Millennials want access to their Netflix accounts on the flat screen, dimmable lights from their mobile phone and most importantly, mobile check-in with keyless entry. Much like the transportation industry has evolved, the lodging industry must follow.

pages49-2

Mobile check-in combined with keyless entry are the killer features that are needed to gain hotel mobile app usage. When this is established, the opportunities to communicate with the guest are essentially wide open. Unlike airline apps that see a large spike just prior to boarding, hotel apps have potential throughout the stay. For the guest, mobile check-in with keyless entry means selecting their own room and not stopping at the front desk for the obligatory greeting and credit card swipe. It’s more about the freedom of choice and abolishing key cards than it is about saving time.

For the hotel, mobile check-in and keyless entry have enormous benefits, providing timely communication with guest habits like entering and exiting their guest room. It also encourages the guest to interact with the app at a high frequency. By building essential features into the app, the hotel facilitates the guest’s ability to explore other opportunities that the hotel has to offer. This opens the digital communication channels that Millennials are most comfortable using, like text messaging and social sharing. In other words, it’s a marketer’s dream! Properly timed mobile messages and personalized offers can help keep guests in the hotel bar and restaurant.

Opens the digital communication channels that Millennials are most comfortable using … a marketer’s dream!

According to a recent study by Tata Consulting Services, the lodging industry topped the list with regard to current IoT spending per company, with an average of $128 million. That’s good news for tech savvy Millennials who are looking for a smarter hotel room. However, finding the right balance between technology and hospitality may be the biggest challenge facing these new hotel brands.