Why the hotel industry has a real opportunity to transform the guest experience

There’s no denying that we live in an age of digital dependency: a user interacts with – taps, types, swipes and clicks – their phone almost 3,000 times a day. By 2020, there will be six billion smartphone users worldwide and almost 75% of the global population will be connected by mobile.

However, connected devices with multiple apps running have one problem in common – they drain power. With the growth of new revolutionary technology such as Apple Pay and Google Maps, our phones are now so much more than communication devices.

One of the game changers for the hotel industry has been the evolving consumer habits of millennials. Less interested in the accumulation of material goods, the so-called “experience economy” has driven a change in millennial values, prioritising experiences like travel over possessions and ownership.

Digitally wired and connected from a young age, millennials have never been more than a few clicks away from friends, family and colleagues, so it is no surprise that millennials are seeking a work-life integration rather than a distinct work-life balance. To take advantage of this generational sea change, hotels need to be aware of millennials’ compulsion to be connected day and night, and to use all the technology at their fingertips to make spur of the moment travel plans.

Having made such huge strides in the speed and availability of connectivity, today the biggest barrier to being connected is battery power. We’ve all been there, we’ve felt the ‘battery anxiety’, knowing we need to send that one vital work email, or find directions to the coffee shop we’re meeting a friend at. Sitting at 1% isn’t fun for anyone – it gets in the way of us living our lives exactly as we want to. But what if hotels, bars, cafes and restaurants could solve the problem, and make access to power easy, accessible and profitable?

The growth of the wireless world

With an estimated 55 billion IoT devices due to hit the market by 2025, there is a practical technology with a smart application that will be much in demand: wireless charging. Smart wireless charging is a service that will give guests the freedom to keep their phone powered up as they move around hotels throughout the day, enjoying the convenience of “snacking on power” via wireless charging points in the lobby, the bar, the room or even the gym or spa. It will only be a matter of time until guests will no longer have to imagine a world in which truly wireless charging is a reality.

Poor charging facilities driving guests away

The reality is that not providing access to power directly impacts guests’ dwell time and has a negative impact on customer behaviour. New research by Chargifi has revealed that nearly half (46%) of people claim they are more likely to stay longer and order more at a hotel, café, restaurant or bar if they can charge their device and almost one-in-five (17%) say they have spent money at a food and beverage establishment just so they can power up.

The survey showed that millennials’ expectations are even higher with the majority expecting the same fully connected experience in hotels as they are used to at home. As more and more smart technology is incorporated into our home lives, often with phones being used to control or trigger smart technology, there is an expectation for seamless connectivity everywhere we go.

Convenient access to power positively affects ROI

On a daily basis, almost two-thirds of smartphone users run out of battery before 5pm, leading to the growing trend of power snacking, where people are constantly looking to ‘top-up’ their charge as they move from place-to-place. Guests who feel reassured that they can conveniently charge their phone – without the need of a charger – are more likely to become loyal brand advocates.

Millennials are the driving force behind this trend and almost two-thirds of the demographic admitted they are more likely to stay longer and order more at a food and beverage establishment if they can charge their device, compared with less than a third (30%) of people aged 55-64 who claim the same.

Access to power combined with positive guest experience is impacting on ROI with increased spend and guest loyalty. Providing convenient access to power means there is one more reason for a guest to come, stay and spend. Companies who are implementing a clear strategy around charging in their venues are going to win customers.

The competitive edge of smart wireless charging

As the power cable fades into obsolescence, customer demand for wireless power will rise inextricably. 50% of those people who own a device with wireless charging capability agreed that they are more likely to visit a food and beverage establishment if it provided access to wireless charging, to enable them to power up seamlessly and conveniently.

Smart wireless charging – a cloud-connected solution that turns wireless power into a service – enables hotels to not only provide convenient power, but to also capture insightful real-time data on guest behaviour, and when connected into an IoT infrastructure can trigger smart experiences.

IoT-connected appliances that can be controlled via smart devices – using, for example, energy-saving apps – will become increasingly commonplace in hotel rooms and shared spaces. And it’s not just the hotel guests who will benefit: staff will be able to move around the hotel while receiving information and updates on tasks and guests thanks to this new smart technology.

Understanding a guest is game changing for hoteliers

Encouraging customers and guests to download your app – whether it be for marketing, room booking or food ordering – in exchange for access to power makes data capture a breeze, and allows you to send personalised experience triggers to individual guests based on their behaviours. When connected to the cloud, wireless charging can provide a trigger point for the connected guest to enjoy smart, convenient and personalized experiences such as table ordering in a lobby through mobile concierge and fully connected smart bedrooms.

For example, by integrating smart wireless charging with a hotel’s loyalty app, placing a phone on a wireless charging spot could trigger digital room check-in, or turn a phone into a room key. It can also trigger targeted push notifications. This allows the app to send offers based on a guest’s real-time location, interests and needs. Your guest may have spent an hour in a cafe or bar, charging their device, working and drinking coffee. Knowing this information could trigger the hotel app to send a unique lunchtime meal offer which if sent at 11.45am might encourage them to stay an hour longer and make additional purchases. And of course on check-out, it can prompt your guest to leave that all-important review.

Not only that, but a cloud-managed wireless charging enables real-time monitoring of a hotel’s wireless charging network so fixes can be made over the air. This means that any issues are dealt with long before guests encounter them.

Driving revenue by maximising space utilisation

Smart wireless charging allows restaurants and hotels to make full use of hyper-local data, based on exactly when and where customers are charging. This data gives management insight into how the space is being used, and the ability to identify specific high footfall areas, ensuring these areas are well kept and well staffed. With the rise in e-commerce, it is a constant challenge for businesses in the hospitality industry to continue to encourage people to come in, sit down and spend money. This hyper-local data, means dwell time can be accurately monitored in real time to feed into a more individualised service that is specific to the amenities guests really want and utilise.

Wireless charging is poised to bring convenient and ubiquitous access to power to hundreds of millions of customers and guests every day. Power is the crucial foundation that fuels our lifestyles and the increasingly flexible and fluid way of living. Easy access to power is no longer a luxury, it is a basic need and hoteliers must wake up if they are to stay ahead of the curve.

By Dan Bladen, CEO and co-founder of Chargifi

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