“Frictionless” is the new catchword in the hospitality industry. It describes a “home away from home” experience for guests when they come to stay. A 2017 HT (Hospitality Technology) research brief, entitled “Enabling the Smart Hotel Experience”, describes how leaders in the hotel sector are eyeing a swathe of opportunities to reduce friction with guest Wi-Fi, digital conferencing, mobile check-in, payment alternatives (NFC), smart room keys, and in-room entertainment. Hotels want to make their digital guests feel at home. In the wake of Airbnb and uberization, the stakes are high and the budgets are tight.
A Need to Boost Confidence About Innovation
Hotels remain modest about their capabilities to innovate. Gaining competitive advantage by being first to market with a product or practice that transforms business is not the forte of most hotels, according to the HT research brief. Only 21% of these hotels surveyed believe they are technology trendsetters while 64% believe they are simply on par with industry, keeping their risk taking at modest levels. When Forbes selected its 2016 Top 100 Most Innovative Companies, only two hotels made the cut.
Confidence in innovating is also particularly low when it comes to using data and analytics to improve the overall guest experience. The pressure for hotels to provide the digital experience right is increasing.
Wireless Potential for Multiple Touchpoints
Customer-facing technology and analytics are seen as the most strategic by hotels. Both can be empowered by a proper guest Wi-Fi deployment. More specifically, the top strategic technology goals for innovators was a tie between improving digital customer engagement/guest loyalty and improving payment and data security, both with 54%, which aligns with overall hotel responses.
Guest room wireless technology offers several digital touchpoints for hotels to engage with clients and reduce friction. Guest Wi-Fi allow guests to seamlessly interact with room terminals, for example, for dimming lights, altering heating or air conditioning, lowering shades, and so on. The same networks also allows the hotel staff to interact better with guests, by inserting content into guest Wi-Fi connections to provide useful information, access to hotel-sponsored apps, special deals, and opportunities for real-time guest feedback.
The Main Challenges of Technology
While technology is an item at the top of guest experience and engagement agenda, hotels perceive certain obstacles in leveraging it. Survey results show the percentages of respondents finding difficulty in the following areas:
Source: Enabling the smart hotel experience, HT,
For hotel innovators, delivering technologies faster is the greatest challenge causing friction, followed by keeping pace with guest expectations. Therefore solution vendors must ensure their technology is quick and easy to deploy. The frictionless concept also applies to the hotel staff ability to embrace fully the wireless solution!
Guest Wi-Fi and its Possibilities are a Strategic Priority
Upgrading guest Wi-Fi is a top priority for all hotel respondents with 69% indicating plans to upgrade their current solutions. Good guest Wi-Fi capabilities will also be a springboard for tomorrow’s technologies. Virtual reality is one example, offering enhancements such as the translation of signs and notices without having to print them in several languages, allowing event planners to make virtual visits to hotels instead of having to be there physically, and displaying food menus that automatically highlight food allergies. If hotels offer such capabilities through their own apps, the guest Wi-Fi network can also enable convenient download or in-browser app experiences for its customers.
Source: Enabling the smart hotel experience, HT,
Solutions for Guest Data Analytics
Data on customer behavior and preferences is now available in abundance but to what extent is that data being used? While larger establishments may be pondering the possibilities of employing data scientists to analyze the data and produce business insights, this solution may simply be out of reach for many other smaller hotels. Fortunately, there are other options than to hire data scientists. One is to assess and leverage data analytics knowhow in the current hotel staff, while another is to use affordable products and services to make use of the initial data analytics. For example, CaptiveXS from RaGaPa, besides providing turn-key features such as captive portal with social login and content insertion for guest Wi-Fi connections, also offers easy-to-use data analytics and graphical displays to visualize user profile and behavior data, providing the foundation for deeper data mining.
Security is also Paramount
In parallel, security over the wireless network must be ensured as hotels invest more in technology and guests bring their own devices and “things”, such as computing wearables and babycams. Content filtering protects guest Wi-Fi users from undue content or to ensure guests are complying with the terms of usage. CaptiveXS provides a secure and child friendly network, together with IoT (Internet of Things) security to protect guests from rogue devices inside or outside the guest Wi-Fi network, helping prevent malware infections and other attacks launched via the “botnets” that hackers construct from vulnerable IoT devices.
Removing the Techno-barrier
Hotels can leverage guest technology and Wi-Fi in particular to improve their customer engagement, loyalty, and advocacy. With an easy to deploy and use, guest Wi-Fi solution like CaptiveXS, hotels may feel more confident about adopting innovative solutions to making the digital guest feel at home and remain relevant in the age of uberization.