If you think business travel is all about long hours in stuffy conference rooms, think again. My mum has been living the life of a global business traveller for years. Her adventures have taken her to some of the most exotic and exciting places in the world. From bustling cities like Tokyo and New York to tropical paradises like Peru and the Dominican Republic, she has experienced it all.
When it comes to business travel, most of us imagine bland hotel rooms and claustrophobic meeting spaces. But for my mum, the reality is very different. Allow me to introduce to you my mother, Meryl Edwards. She plays an integral role within Mackrell International, a globally renowned legal network known for its exceptional provision of responsive, value-added legal guidance and unwavering support to member firms and their clients worldwide. Her responsibilities revolve around meticulously planning and executing meetings, conferences and events hosted by Mackrell International across the globe, among other duties.
In the realm of event organisation, Meryl's role gives her the exciting opportunity to visit different countries and experience and critique various types of hotels and amenities in order to guarantee a seamless and incident free experience for all lawyers and clients who will attend their events.
This led me to ask about her encounters with information technology and communication systems during her stays in these 4* & 5* hotels. Intrigued by her experiences, I eagerly sat her down for an exclusive interview, ready to delve into the captivating tales she had to share.
Q: How frequently do you find yourself staying in hotels for business purposes?
“Approximately 4 times a year.”
Q: What smart telecommunications/IT facilities have you personally used during your hotel stays?
“I have only used online check-in once or twice, last time in a well-known hotel brand. The stay was brief, just one night, making it a simple and enjoyable experience. I would definitely use online check-in again in the future, however it's worth noting that I have only used online-check ins on my computer, not on my phone.
Having reliable Wi-Fi is crucial for me to work efficiently while I'm on the move, so access to good, high-speed internet is a significant factor. When it comes to organising conferences, it can be problematic and costly when certain hotels don't offer complimentary Wi-Fi for conference room users. This becomes a particularly important issue since attendees expect to have free Wi-Fi available during conferences, just as they do in their own hotel rooms.
As the person responsible for evaluating the audio visual (AV) aspects of our conferences, I've found that although the overall experiences and technology are quite good, the cost factor within the United States remains a significant issue (pretty pricey!).
Some hotel restaurants and bars are using QR codes to order food directly from your table, which is a convenient feature, especially if you are in a rush or don’t want to speak to anyone. However, when queries about the menu arise, the limited availability of staff can prove to be a significant inconvenience.
I have also experienced automated personalised text messages. For example, I received regular updates about changes or reminders about my stay, which was extremely helpful and made me feel as if they really cared about making my experience 10/10. I was pleasantly surprised to receive text messages requesting my feedback on the overall experience, this showed a proactive approach to gathering guest reviews for self-improvement. Such automated and personalised services by text messages have undoubtedly added a touch of convenience and engagement to my stays, making them more memorable, I would more likely return to one of these hotels because of the services provided.
I did have one funny experience when receiving an automated feedback text message - when I arrived at my hotel a couple of months ago a receptionist called Harry checked me in, and I didn’t really think too much of it. Then when I checked-out of the hotel I received a text from Harry, asking me for feedback on my stay. However, my son is called Harry so was utterly confused wondering why my son was asking me to rate my experience out of 10l! Took me a minute to realise it was the hotel receptionist!”
Q: In your opinion, how have smart telecoms facilities improve the guest experience in hotels?
“The introduction of advanced telecom technologies in hotels could truly revolutionise the way guests, like myself, enjoy their stay. Some of these innovations have brought about seamless connectivity, personalised services, and improved convenience throughout the entire duration of my visit.
One of the notable advantages is the availability of smart facilities in the rooms. These facilities allow guests to effortlessly control various aspects of their environment, such as temperature, lighting, and entertainment. It's as simple as using intuitive interfaces or mobile apps, which makes the experience incredibly user-friendly.
Smart telecoms could provide efficient communication channels for guests, like myself, to interact with hotel staff. This means I could easily request services, seek assistance, or simply communicate my needs promptly. It adds a level of convenience and responsiveness that enhances the overall experience.”
Q: What aspect of smart technology do you believe could be improved upon?
“There are a few areas that I believe could be enhanced. Firstly, for business travellers, late-night check-ins and early-morning checkouts could be made smoother through improved automation and streamlined processes. This would ensure a seamless experience for guests arriving or departing during non-traditional hours. Maybe something like a self-service desk where you fill out your check-in details and then a hotel key card which opens your room is dispensed.
Another area for improvement is the ability to place food orders ahead of time for out-of-hours dining. Having the convenience of pre-ordering meals through the smart guest services system would be highly beneficial, especially when guests have limited dining options available during late hours.
The ability to control the temperature in the room is another aspect that could be further enhanced. While smart guest services already offer some control over room temperature, improvements could be made to ensure more precise and responsive temperature adjustments, providing guests with optimal comfort throughout their stay.”
Q: How do you envision smart telecoms facilities evolving in the hospitality industry in the coming years?
“I believe there will be a seamless integration of services through a single app, allowing guests to manage their entire booking process from leaving their house to arriving at their destination. This consolidation of information and functionalities into one convenient platform will simplify and streamline the travel experience.
One exciting possibility is the implementation of QR door keys. This technology would eliminate the need for traditional key cards and provide guests with a secure and convenient way to access their rooms. It offers a seamless and contactless experience, improving efficiency and guest satisfaction.
It would be interesting to see if they could directly integrate taxi services within smart telecoms facilities. Guests will have the convenience of booking taxis directly through the platform, eliminating the need to search for transportation options. This integration will further streamline the guest experience, saving time and enhancing convenience.
One important aspect is the ecological utilisation of smart technology to empower guests in controlling their environmental impact. For instance, guests could have the ability to control linen change, towel washing, and even request room changes through smart interfaces. This level of control enables guests to actively participate in sustainability efforts, promoting eco-friendly practices within the hospitality industry.”
Q: What role do you believe hotel staff should play in facilitating the use of smart telecoms facilities for guests?
“I believe hotel staff play a crucial role in ensuring that guests can effectively use smart telecoms facilities, especially the older generations. Their assistance and guidance are essential in providing an end-to-end experience for guests. For example, when I encountered difficulties with the hotel telephone during my stay in Canada, I couldn't figure it out and eventually gave up. It would have been helpful if the staff were readily available to help and provide troubleshooting support.
If the smart telecoms include social media feedback or interaction options, hotel staff need to be extra vigilant. With the ease of making complaints or sharing feedback on social media platforms, staff need to be proactive in addressing any issues quickly as well as providing excellent customer service. Ensuring guests concerns are addressed effectively, even in a virtual space helps maintain a positive reputation for the hotel.”
Q: Have you encountered any challenges or issues with using smart telecoms facilities in hotels? If so, how were these addressed?
“As we discussed in the last question, I had difficulty using the hotel telephone. In the end - I just gave up!”
Q: How do you believe smart guest facilities contribute to the overall brand image and reputation of a hotel?
“When it comes to smart telecoms facilities, their contribution to a hotel's brand image and reputation largely depends on how seamlessly they work. If these facilities operate smoothly and without any glitches, they can be viewed as a positive addition to the hotel's offering. However, if they replace human interaction and encounter issues without readily available assistance, it can become problematic for guests.
In high-end, service-oriented hotels, guests often prioritise personalised human interaction. They desire the opportunity to speak with a person and feel 'looked after' throughout their stay. In such establishments, smart guest facilities would need to provide a highly personalised service and augment human interaction in order to meet the expectations of guests who value the attentive service of dedicated staff members.
When using technology to sell a brand, it's essential to strike a balance between people and technology. It's not about eliminating the human element; rather, it's about complementing it. If a hotel wants to incorporate tech into its brand, it should ensure that it doesn't remove the presence of staff members who provide personalised care. Instead, the technology should empower guests by providing them with easy access to various services at the touch of a button, while also having dedicated staff available for assistance.”
Q: Have you observed any notable differences in the use of smart telecoms facilities across different regions or countries?
“I haven't observed any notable differences across regions or countries. However, I believe that the real innovation in this area will likely be driven by business hotels. These establishments are often at the forefront of adopting new technologies to enhance efficiency and convenience for their guests. On the other hand, high-end luxury hotels are likely to seek new ways to provide VIP service through personalisation such as recognising a guest who has stayed with them previously and remembering their preferences."
Q: What advice would you give to hotels seeking to optimise the utilisation of smart telecoms facilities for their guests?
“I would advise hotels to consider their primary target market and the type of guests they attract. It's essential to understand the nature of your hotel and focus on what will be most important to your specific guests. By understanding the unique characteristics of your hotel and the expectations of your target market, you can identify the specific features and functionalities of smart telecoms facilities that will resonate with your guests. This tailored approach ensures that the utilisation of these facilities aligns with the priorities and interests of your guests.”
It's remarkable how smart telecoms facilities have truly transformed my mum’s guest experience. These cutting-edge technologies have taken her stays to a whole new level.
For hotels aiming to unlock the full potential of smart telecoms facilities, understanding their target market is key. By tailoring these innovative solutions to cater to the specific needs and desires of their guests, hotels can create extraordinary and personalised experiences that leave a lasting impression.
If you're eager to explore how smart telecoms can revolutionise your hospitality offerings, look no further than Britannic. As a leading provider of telecoms solutions for the hospitality industry, Britannic brings a wealth of expertise and a comprehensive range of services to help hotels harness the power of smart technology and digital transformation.
Don't miss out on the opportunity to elevate your guest experiences to new heights. Embrace the future of hospitality with smart telecoms facilities and create unforgettable memories for your guests. Visit Britannic today and unlock the potential of technology in your hotel.