by Frances Kiradjian
Founder & CEO, The Boutique & Lifestyle Lodging Association
“Technology has changed almost every industry and will continue to do so. The hospitality industry is not immune to the challenges posed by the technology-obsessed world. The boutique sector is feeling the positive effects of technology and in fact, BLLA is addressing this phenomenon by doing research around the discussion of how the right technology increases the value of a hotel asset.”
We’re undoubtedly living in the digital age. Technology has reshaped the way almost every industry in the modern economy operates. The boutique hotel space is no exception. We’re feeling the effect and are now challenged to strike the balance between modernity and remaining authentic, in touch, and accessible to your target market.
Tech can help you facilitate guest experiences and aid in problem solving while guests are still on-site, which is essential for maintaining good standing. However, over “tech-ing” your property could take away from the personal feeling that boutique hoteliers are constantly striving for. For boutique properties, it is essential to maintain the personal rapport and the intimate, high service ethos that boutique hotels are known for, all while staying current.
A quintessential element of being “boutique” is the promise of a personalized, attentive hotel stay for visitors. Today, there exists the need to facilitate guest experiences on and off property. Apps aim to harness knowledge gained by being “local” and use it to enhance their guests’ stay. In years past, the idea of sending people off-site was taboo and frowned upon. Now, collaborations with local businesses are a way of life. That’s a discussion unto itself!
The Double-Edged Sword of Airbnb
Let’s look at Airbnb. It is undeniable that it is enjoying huge success. The site offers freedom, affordability, and a multitude of options to its growing customer base. As opposed to staying in an impersonal hotel room, Airbnb offers the comforts of staying at “home.” Well, someone’s home anyway. The odd result is that the vacation becomes a very well-managed but impersonal event, without the need to interact with any hospitality workers. What could be missing?
Quite a few things! Without hospitality staff on call whose sole purpose is to provide guests with a memorable experience, a guest at an Airbnb loses out on the personal experience. Staying at “home” means no one is there to solve any problems you might have with your room. There is a distinct loss of boutique hospitality that an absent landlord cannot provide.
The Complete Online Interaction
While hoteliers must be diligent about not taking away the intimacy of staying boutique, many guests like the limited human interaction that comes with the use of online tools to book trips. Guests no longer need to interact with people until they step into the hotel. Staying in a boutique hotel is about having the most enjoyable and guest-oriented experience possible.
Knowing What the Customer Likes
For the hospitality industry, the most important aspect of technology is data. Every industry is catching on to targeted marketing and advertising using data analysis. This is transforming the way hospitality works. There is more certainty in understanding the wants and needs of customers using data. The goal is improving the guest experience.
Keeping Your Customer Safe
We live in a world where it is essential to protect your property and your patron. As I can accomplish more and more things with the tap of a screen, the opportunity for my data to be breached only increases. With the rapid progression in the tech sector of hospitality, the exponentially higher spending in security tech should come as no surprise.
Tech spending is on the rise in the lodging industry. Deloitte’s 2018 Travel and Hospitality Industry Outlook reports that Artificial Intelligence (AI), IoT, Voice Technology, Automation and Blockchain are what is shaping the future. The numbers show a staggering change as compared to ten years prior. Discerning hospitality professionals answer the call to protect their guests, increase satisfaction both on and off property, gain efficiencies and improve operations overall.
Technology and society are constantly changing. It can sometimes feel like technology is killing off more industries than it is building. The companies and the industries that flourish in this new age are the ones that can adapt and use technology to enhance customer enjoyment and satisfaction. This is the perfect atmosphere for boutique hotels and hospitality to flourish.
As the official association for boutique hotels around the world, we strive to arm our network with trend knowledge and foresight, so they remain profitable always. ■
PHOTO CREDIT: FOTOLIA/CARLOSCASTILLA