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ROAD TO RUIN Hotel Technology Overkill Part II

Category: Hotels, Posted:20 Sep 2011 | 06:00 am

Part II of our Terence Ronson/Pertlink piece on hotel technology picks up with –
"To understand what the Guest really wants, and needs: STOP, LOOK and LISTEN

Let's be very clear about this – I don't profess to be a Rocket Scientist, a Psychiatrist or a Fortune Teller. But what I am is a fairly good judge of what people are looking for, especially when it concerns Hotel Tech. Let me give you a simple and short list:
1. Super fast, reliable and suitably priced Internet access (Wired and/or Wireless). Wireless is the 1st choice for most people, with the ability to connect multiple devices, and for free.
2. A well-lit room with simple controls.
3. Power sockets, power sockets and more power sockets. And please, don't kill the power to all of them when I leave the room. Guests also like USB power sockets so an adaptor is not required.
4. Temperatures that can be easily controlled – Up and Down.
5. A place to work – as in a Desk. But note – people work anywhere and everywhere today – so understand that, be sympathetic and flexible, and provision for it with power sockets and Wi-Fi.
6. And as for the TV, include 24-hour news channels, Sports channels and some entertaining TV channels. Most guests don't want or like all the marketing stuff you put on the TV, even if you think they do.
That's a small list – isn't it?

Actually, you can summarize what Guests want from a Hotel Room with three C's:-
1. Clean
2. Comfortable
3. Connected
A 4th might be Cheap – but what Hotelier likes to have his product labeled as Cheap?

Just consider how long the average Guest stays with you – 1.5 or maybe 2 nights. And during that ever-decreasing period, how long will they stay in the room, and be awake to use all these services – maybe 4 hours? One or maybe two hours in the morning, an hour after office in the evening before dinner, and perhaps one or two hours before sleeping. How much of that time can they devote to learning how to use your tech, versus recovering from jet lag, catching up on emails or meeting approaching deadlines? They just need the tech to work.

The population in general is prepared to spend time learning how to use Personal tech – Why? Because the cost has come out of our pockets, it's hard earned currency, it will be with them as a tool or amusement for some time, and they need to experience a ROI. Contrast that with the tech found in a Hotel room, and most people don't have the patience or same kind of inclination – it's merely a transient acquaintance.

What does this mean to YOU – the Hotelier?

In my opinion, going forward – Guests will start to question why they should pay for this tech when they don't need it, don't want it, and more especially – don't use it. Their desire will be to somehow integrate their tech into your systems and do what they want – with their devices – like customize their experience. They've become comfortable with them, they know them intimately, and most significantly – they've paid for them – so why are you duplicating the expense? Maybe it's time to re-think, re-imagine and downsize….

How many times have you looked around and seen people walking down the street, standing in a queue, drinking a latte, or just talking with friends – and what's in their hand? Their mobile device of course. These GEN-i folks are so attached to their devices that you'd have to take a crowbar to pry it out of their palm. Believing they'll pick up yours and learn it, is highly speculative – unless you are so blessed to only have geeks for Guests.

Consider very carefully the kind of tech you are deploying. Is it because you feel threatened by what your competitors are doing? Remember they may be on the wrong track. Is it because of the findings from the focus group you so carefully put together and solicited candid feedback from?

A trendy piece of tech is no longer an enticement to making a Guest change allegiance from one Hotel to another. A B&O stereo, or an iPod dock is not a deal breaker – but free Wi-Fi and a free mini-bar can be.

And besides, the lifespan of these toys is very short – twelve to eighteen months tops before they become relegated to the old version league. Can you really afford to swap out gizmos that fast?

When will you STOP, LOOK and LISTEN?"

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