August 21, 2017 – The hospitality industry is trying to find the X factor to get back on top. With competitors like Airbnb entering the scene as unique places for travelers to stay and brand loyalty becoming less important to guests, hotels should tap pause and look back to the basics.
Did you know 90% of the “guest experience” takes place behind the scenes? This means the best guest experience is one in which they pass right through it without a second glance because they’re gleefully immersed in the environment.
Hotels and resorts spend a lot of time and money talking about the guest experience but only point to the obvious attractions — fountains, pools, location, TV technology in the rooms, etc. — without any consideration to the fact that the true experience is the sum total of the guest’s personal perception. After all, the guest perceives everything from gum on the entryway path to the speed of elevators to the light bulb out in their room.
This is where we need to go back to the basics so we proactively address stimuli guests would find unpleasant. With the elements that happen behind the scene guaranteed to be handled immediately if not before they even happen, we can then redirect our attention to the attractions that spark interest and bring new guests in. Guests won’t be drawn to a location that boasts AI technology if the online reviews and comments are about the faulty shower heads or burned out light bulbs. However, guests that feel happy and special from the moment they walk into the facility until the moment they check out will leave excellent reviews about the location’s attractions but also everything else that makes up the experience.
While big things matter like the layout of the lobby, check-in process, and parking, the little things can make or break a stay. We need to consider everything that is taken for granted to work like light bulbs, the AC, and hot water lasting more than 5 minutes. The start of the ideal guest experience is invisible, it starts between the walls, and requires the sort of tools and systems that ensure it is repeatable and affordable every day and all night.
Today’s technology offers more than just a maintenance system with assigned work orders, which you may jump to when you think about building basics. Our basics must be covered but we also need to stay competitive and look to what’s next. According to Site 1001, what’s next is artificial intelligence (AI) for buildings.
In order to get to the AI mindset, we need to change. We need to centralize information and make it easily accessible to those who need it. This isn’t just floorplans, room numbers, and 3D drawings, but also maintenance records, warranty information, and inventory status. This wealth of information at the hands of the people who work behind the scenes is one of the first steps in efficient and smart buildings.
We need to do the basics justice while building tomorrow’s foundation. Just like today’s guests expect a well-lit and clean place, tomorrow’s guests will expect AI. The building’s crew will need to listen to what the building is telling them in order to stay on top of any system that could disrupt the guest’s experience. For example, if all the light bulbs on the 4th floor were added on the same day and 10 rooms have already gone out, maybe it’s time to be proactive on the other rooms and replace the bulbs. It’s so simple, it can make a big difference, and the software tools needed to make it happen are out there, but we continue to do things the hard way.
We exist in an “internet of everything” world. As sensors become more prevalent, opportunities are created to take advantage of technology. Properly harnessed, our buildings will speak to us in a comprehensible language and we will care for them like a precious antique car – familiar with the maintenance and optimization of every part of it, including the engine, instead of just painting it a new color and calling it fixed. Superficial makeovers may make buildings look great from a distance, but true restoration and longevity incorporates every piece of the structure.
Smart people run smart buildings and smart buildings make smart cities. If you’re ready to take your building and your business to bright new levels, make sure you listen to what your building tells you before your guests complain.