Have you checked into a hotel using a mobile app? Or maybe the light in your hotel room switched off automatically when you opened the door to leave? These features are only the tip of the iceberg in smart hotels.
What are smart hotels?
According to Dalgic and Birdir 1, a smart hotel adopts a variety of cutting-edge technologies to provide guests with novel and tech-focused experiences. These hotels demonstrate a rise in smart services, defined as the incorporation of data and connected technologies that anticipate customers’ requirements and permit adaptation in response to any changes in settings or circumstances.2
Smart hotels go beyond a single concept or the straightforward application of technology. Instead, they involve gathering, integrating, analyzing, and concerted use of both general and specific client data via connected and synchronized technologies to enhance and personalize the customer experience.3
Usage of smart hotel technologies
DiPietro and Wang 4 distinguished four key areas that reflect the main effects of ICTs on hotel management—strategic planning and revenue management, operations, marketing, distribution and communication, as well as customer service and relationship management. This paragraph includes some examples of most hotels implement smart technologies nowadays.
Behind-the-scenes operations management technology indirectly improves client happiness by assisting executives in managing hotel operations more effectively and efficiently. Due to its ability to streamline the maintenance of rooms and guests’ requests, software like “Opera” or “CloudBeds” aids hoteliers in providing better client services. It is a property management system that is employed in hotels for the creation of reports as well as for reservations, rate administration, guest profile upkeep, and profit management.5
The cost of a hotel room may be one of the major deciding factors for travellers to choose a hotel, but social media and user review websites’ credibility and content might influence travellers’ booking intentions 6. Because so many individuals use social media to choose their holiday destination, share their experiences, and write reviews about the places they have visited, social media has emerged as a tool of essential relevance for the hotel sector.
In addition to social media, hotels realise that they need to employ technology to develop more cutting-edge services to boost client interaction.
How to create a smart hotel experience?
People love innovative experiences, especially they are open to trying something new when travelling. A stream of research has concluded that one of the keys to a company’s success is to offer a unique client experience. 7 Can you imagine checking into a Marriott International hotel and having smart shower doors? What are those? you might ask. These doors are made so guests can write down their thoughts while in the shower and subsequently send the image to their personal email. 8
Consumers are increasingly more interested in purchasing experiences, instead of buying goods and products, according to Neuhofer et al. 9 Any successful business should prioritize determining and comprehending consumer demands and desires to improve their customer experience.
Luo & Pan 10 identified five aspects of the smart hotel experience—interactivity, personalisation, accessibility, informativeness, and privacy safety. Interactivity means technologies are easy and fun to use. Personalization means that tourists’ demands are met through customized services, which also enhance their travel enjoyment and make smart tourism hotels more appealing to them. Accessibility refers to how simple it is for a person to access and utilize the information provided. Credibility and information quality are important variables that can majorly impact visitors’ experiences. Last but not least is privacy safety, a necessary component of the technology-mediated environment is the protection and security of personal and private information.
These five dimensions are crucial to create a safe and unforgettable smart hotel experience for customers when designing an innovative experience.
Future of smart hotels
A framework for connectivity and interconnection is being adopted by the hospitality sector as an intelligence system that will revolutionize the sector. A fully integrated smart network should be capable of dynamic data sensing, storing, analysis, and interpretation. The capabilities of IoT and sensors allow for the monitoring and extraction of data from the outside world. Three domains are involved in connecting smart IoT networks: network-centric, cloud-centric, and data-centric. 11
Challenges of implementing smart hotel technologies
Even though smart hotel technologies have various advantages for consumers, hotel employees, and hotel owners, there are always questionable points in every technology use. Some of them are discussed below.
Hotel owners hope that technologies may assist staff in daily tasks, cut financial costs, and improve the customer journey of hotel guests. However, to support management strategic planning and decisions, modern hotel management needs a vast amount of data – hotels have to do a great amount of research.
Smart services can meet client needs even before the customer is aware of them. For instance, without consumer involvement, the room temperature in a hotel room is changed to suit an individual’s demands. However, there is always a chance that the algorithm incorrectly calculated it or that the consumer would like the room to be less hot at that moment. Smart services must therefore give the consumer the option to customize the experience. How many settings or options are required to meet each customer’s unique tastes and provide them control?
Many hotel customers are hesitant to provide or disclose their data to hotel employees because they are concerned about their privacy. Furthermore, individuals might not feel safe if they realize that service providers are gathering, storing, and using their data behind their backs. Because of these privacy concerns, some guests, for instance, could complain if a hotel records everything they do, such as what they watch on TV or what they eat or drink while they are accommodated.
Technologies vs. human interactions
While technological advancements are crucial nowadays, many travellers could concur that they alone do not produce great and memorable experiences. Therefore, for many, these experiences are created through encounters with locals, other visitors, and employees. However, many smart services use technology and machines to replace guest-staff interactions, which can occasionally be expensive and time-consuming. However, certain smart services and technologies also have the potential to improve human contact.12 The difficulty lies in creating and implementing smart technologies that enhance existing processes in hotels while maintaining the necessary amount of human involvement.
The mind map above wraps up this blog post and gives food for thought on how to create a customer experience using smart hotel technologies. To conclude, it can be stated that the development, adoption, and implementation of cutting-edge technology across all areas of hotels will result in growth and sustained competitive advantage, therefore enhancing guests’ experiences. Smart hotels should focus on involving consumers in experiences and experiences production. However, each hotel must strike a balance between what it can provide given its resources and what its clients are expecting.
1 Dalgic, A., & 1 Birdir, K. (2020). Smart hotels and technological applications. In Handbook of research on smart technology applications in the tourism industry (pp. 323-343). IGI Global.
2 Kabadayi, S., Ali, F., Choi, H., Joosten, H., & Lu, C. (2019). Smart service experience in hospitality and tourism services: A conceptualization and future research agenda. Journal of Service Management, 30(3), 326-348.
3 Gretzel, U., Koo, C., Sigala, M., & Xiang, Z. (2015). Special issue on smart tourism: convergence of information technologies, experiences, and theories. Electronic Markets, 25(3), 175-177.
4 DiPietro, R. B., & Wang, Y. R. (2010). Key issues for ICT applications: impacts and implications for hospitality operations. Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes.
5 Law, R., Leung, R., Lo, A., Leung, D., & Fong, L. H. N. (2015). Distribution channel in hospitality and tourism: Revisiting disintermediation from the perspectives of hotels and travel agencies. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 27(3), 431-452.
6 Noone, B. M., & McGuire, K. A. (2013). Pricing in a social world: The influence of non-price information on hotel choice. Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management, 12(5), 385-401.
7 Kim, H., & Choi, B. (2013). The influence of customer experience quality on customers’ behavioural intentions. Services Marketing Quarterly, 34(4), 322-338.
8 Morgan, B. (2020). 10 Examples Of Customer Experience Innovation In Hospitality. Forbes.
9 Neuhofer, B., Buhalis, D., & Ladkin, A. (2015). Smart technologies for personalized experiences: a case study in the hospitality domain. Electronic Markets, 25(3), 243-254.
10 Luo, X., & Pan, Y. (2021). A Study on customer experience design through analyzing smart hotels in China. Journal of the Korea Convergence Society, 12(3), 115-124.
11 Jin, J., Gubbi, J., Marusic, S., & Palaniswami, M. (2014). An information framework for creating a smart city through the internet of things. IEEE Internet of Things Journal, 1(2), 112-121.
12 Sharma, D. (2016). Enhancing customer experience using technological innovations: A study of the Indian hotel industry. Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes.