Digital customer experience agency MCD Partners has queried 1,000 American travelers about their views on the average hotel digital experience.
The results are outlined in a hospitality white paper, and show that excellent digital experience may actually increase loyalty. This is encouraging news, especially in a competitive business such as hotels.
This particular survey broke its travelers down into three groups of travelers: Family, Leisure and Business. MCD's Creative Director John Caruso sees that these categories each have overlapping needs:
With competition as fierce as ever, hotels looking to stand out to today's travelers need to meet their rising expectations for great digital experiences. In particular, there is a huge opportunity for hotels to make better use of the device that is always with the traveler: the smartphone. Using mobile to increase personalization and convenience will create a better experience for guests, and factor into their next decision of where to stay.
More takeaways from the MCD analysis follow.
The devil is also in the digital details
The digital experience across websites, apps and other digital channels were especially important to a clear majority of travelers.
This approach to the digital details is the first indication a traveler has that a hotel truly considers digital as part of the hotel experience.
A thoughtful digital experience is also indicative of a thoughtful hotel, as the digital is the first touchpoint and a clear signal of quality to customers.
Digital details are useful - and many guests want them to be leveraged
There's a data tsunami that has already drowned the travel industry - and the rickety buckets previously being used to lower the level are rapidly being replaced with sophisticated pumps and filters that allow all travel businesses to dry off and clearly understand actual applications of this information in day-to-day ops.
Hotels are especially positioned to take advantage of this endless deluge, as they receive qualitative data about guests with each stay.
Guests realize the relative ease of storing this information, and are surprisingly eager to have this data used to improve their experience throughout their stay, including interacting across other platforms.
And while it must be noted that there's still an average of 25% of people that have no desire for their digital details to be used to enhance their stay, the opportunity for the remainder is very real - and now nearly expected by guests.
In order to sort the two types of traveler, a direct ask during check-in does wonders in ensuring that tracking only attaches to the willing.
Simple personal preferences are much more interesting to more travelers. Why should a guest have to request a specific newspaper or declare an allergy at each stay?
Consider having the front guest explain the advantages of attached information, and be sure the front desk clerks are well-educated in regards to data security, access and other prurient privacy concerns.
What should be included in the digital experience?
This is perhaps the most vital information contained in the results, as it highlights exactly what consumers are seeking in their hotel's digital experience. This is pertinent, as near-total smartphone penetration guarantees that a guest will at some point seek out information on their smartphone, in addition to a website.
The ability to use a smartphone as a key is one that has ballooned in popularity, with many hotel chains and startups looking to leverage this desire into an actual amenity. There's a large technological burden to replace current lock technology, with other potential solutions in development to reduce that upfront capital outlay.
One feature that offers interesting co-branding opportunities is the ability to schedule a taxi pick-up at the hotel. What if the hotel app could facilitate that? Not only would it make for a more compelling user experience, but would offer some especially useful data on guest travel patterns outside of the hotel.
The final note in the paper is that a solid digital experience means loyalty - especially for business travelers.
The full paper can be downloaded here.