Most consumers (nine in ten*) have heard of the smart home, but what of the smart hotel? Whereas the smart home has so far been a manufacturer-led evolution, leading to slow take up by consumers, there is an opportunity for the smart hotel to be a consumer-led revolution and to excel. Smart products and services are all about making life and activities easier, less taxing and even more pleasurable – all things that travelers will value. But it isn’t quite that simple. For the smartness of the technology and service it provides to be really appreciated, they must offer something that consumers actually want. It’s vital that the smart hotel is guest-centric and that its services are generated around real customer needs and experience aspects that are most important to them.
The challenge is that everyone’s needs are different, so whatever technological solution is developed it can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach. This has been one of the biggest barriers to take up of the smart home. Just as every home and the occupants’ needs are different, so travelers’ needs are diverse. They will want different things from technology. Some will want a device or app that helps with the packing, or organizing a tailored experience. Others will want to be able to communicate with fellow travelers in the locality or keep tabs on their kids. Some people will just want help with creating lasting memories and ensuring they have a stress free departure. We already know that consumers’ expectations of the technology behind the smart home are high. It follows that their expectations of the smart hotel will be equally great, if not greater. For we all want the perfect, seamless travel experience.
Hotels already have multi-various ways in which they can collect information on guests to inform new service/product development. One of the most sophisticated methods being invisible analytics (IA), the subject of another article in our travel series. Those that use the intelligence collected to put customers’ needs at the heart of making their hotels smart(er) will succeed. At the same time, the technology that makes hotels smart can also be used to gather even more granular information on consumers to inform smarter business decisions.
*GfK Global smart home study 2015, 7000+ consumers interviewed in Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, South Korea, UK and Spain Sept & Oct 2015
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