How do you make a standard hotel room unique for each guest? Some will want to turn up the air conditioning while others might find the room quite chilly; fruit bowls work well as welcome baskets, but what if someone prefers vegan chocolates? No two guests are the same and with IoT, hotels are creating smart rooms that offer more scope for in-room customization.
Hospitality apps, such as the ones created by Hudini, can make smart rooms smarter. The apps connect all the touchpoints of the guest journey from check-in to check-out, enabling guests to finetune every aspect of their stay using a mobile device. The app also operates as an omni-channel interface, so guests can access the platform via their personal mobile phones and tablets, as well as the in-room phone, tablet or TV.
While hospitality or guest experience apps are most commonly used for online check-ins, they can elevate the in-room experience in several ways.
Digital room key
Guests can convert their mobile phones into digital room keys by downloading the native app. Besides being more convenient and eco-friendly than a plastic keycard, this option also bolsters security.
Ambience & amenities
The lighting, air conditioning and room curtains can be adjusted to the guest’s preference using the smart controls on the app. Some hotels also enable customization of the room’s fragrance, inviting guests to select the scent profile from an interactive menu. Motion sensors, meanwhile, can also automatically switch off electronic devices once the guest has left the room.
Guests can go beyond browsing digital menus on the hotel’s guest engagement platform; they can now also personalize their order, filter the results according to their dietary needs, specify cooking instructions and choose from a variety of personalized add-ons.
Thanks to the customization options available on the app, guests can schedule room cleaning at their convenience. They can also make the eco-friendly choice and decline housekeeping altogether, or request more towels and toiletries, as well as schedule turndown service and wake-up calls.
The in-room TV can also double up as a guest engagement platform, enabling guests to access menus, seek assistance and make reservations using the TV’s touchscreen interface. The IPTV also offers a wider range of entertainment options; guests can now stream content from their own OTT accounts on the TV or watch live programs.
The app’s multilingual chatbot can be accessed to provide any kind of assistance, whether it’s making a spa reservation, booking a tour or ordering room service. AI-powered chatbots refine their responses and suggestions based on the guest’s preferences, making each interaction and offering more personalized.
While in-room voice assistants are still in their nascent stages, they have excellent scope for advancing guest engagement. This is especially true for guests who are already using voice assistants on their phones or at home. The ease of use is an advantage, along with the assistant’s ability to help guests do everything from book a poolside cabana to play their favorite songs on the entertainment system.
Hotels can request feedback through the app’s push notifications, which is a real-time method of evaluating guest satisfaction. This also helps hotels take necessary action immediately instead of waiting till after the guest has checked-out. From the guests’ perspective, quick action to ensure a better stay shows them that the hotel values their patronage.
How do smart rooms benefit hotels?
Smart rooms that are linked to the hotel’s guest engagement platform elevate the hospitality experience. While convenience and customization are proving invaluable for guests, the benefits of room automation for hotels are equally important.
Take the chatbot feature, for example. It’s trained to provide prompt replies to repetitive questions such as ‘What’s the WiFi password?’ and ‘What time does the breakfast buffet start’? When FAQs are automatically answered by the chatbot, staff have the bandwidth to take on tasks that require human skills and hospitality experience. Moreover, the ongoing staff shortage – which has affected 82% of US hotels according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association – can be tackled by supporting staff with technology wherever possible.
Digital menus for restaurants, the spa and leisure activities can replace paper menus in all rooms, making operations more eco-friendly. Guests can also participate in the hotel’s sustainability initiatives by opting out of room cleaning and ordering dishes made from locally-sourced ingredients.
Customization presents upsell opportunities at every touchpoint of the guest’s stay. Add-ons that are tailored to their dietary needs, activity recommendations suited to their interests, even minibars that are filled with their favorite beverages – guests are more likely to purchase offerings that are tailored to them. In fact, a study by Hospitality Technology found that 76% of guests were even willing to pay a premium at hotels that offer technology they consider essential.
Hotels are actively exploring the potential of linking smart rooms with guest engagement apps but the fact is, guests are already ahead of the curve. Across hotels of every size, smart rooms offering a seamless experience are no longer a matter of if, but when.