Written by: Manlio Allegra
Like many industries upended by new technologies in recent years, the hotel industry is feeling the pain of house-sharing websites, with the largest threat coming from Airbnb. According to recent research conducted by Florida State University, a one percent increase in Airbnb listings lowers hotel revenues by 0.02 and 0.04 percent. In a major tourist destination like New York City, this translates to an annual loss of between $91 million and $365 million, based on 2016 hotel revenues. Hotels are taking this threat seriously and are focusing on improving one area where Airbnb cannot compete — guest service.
In 2019, the key to providing the best guest service is by delivering a highly personalized experience, made possible by leveraging various types of new state-of-the-art technologies. These include applications such as remote check-in so that weary guests can bypass lengthy reception desk lines, and smart room service, where hotels send push alerts at meal times to entice (or remind) guests to order food. One of the most useful technologies being implemented is 3-D location technology, where upon check-in, a guest can opt in by downloading an app to their mobile device which enables them to be located throughout the hotel property, even to their specific room in high-rise buildings. This in turn enables the hotel to deliver innovative services, taking the guest experience to new heights.
Leveraging state-of-the-art location technology
Being able to locate a guest indoors, in three dimensions, is a relatively recent phenomenon made possible by software-based location technology. These so-called ‘over the top’ solutions are positioning techniques that build on top of device-based solutions, such as those offered by Apple iOS or Android. That is, they start with a device-based location and add measurements such as barometric pressure or Bluetooth, combining all the available information in an intelligent and robust way. This approach has several advantages in that it improves the (x,y) accuracy and provides a reliable floor-level vertical estimate. The deployment of this technology is simple and generally involves integration of a software development kit (SDK) into any application that requires real-time location information, making this a readily-accessible and easy-to-deploy option for hotel managers.
Creating a truly unique guest experience
While 2-D location services have been in use for nearly a decade at theme parks and large resorts, they have primarily been focused on the outdoor experience and rely on special equipment, such as wristbands that guests had to wear to be located. 3-D location offers capabilities indoors and in big city skyscraper hotels, which account for many of the 5+ star-rated hotels in operation in the industry. Guests at these hotels pay over $1,000 USD per night for even a basic room, and expect a level of service that 3-D location is ideally suited to provide. In addition, the location is enabled by the guests’ own mobile devices, providing a more seamless and discrete experience.
3-D location enables hotels to provide guests with up-to-the-minute service that anticipates their every need, wherever they may be at the time of service request or delivery. Imagine a waiter bringing a cold bottle of water to a guest in the hotel gym, delivering theater tickets to the guest when he is in a conference room, or even escorting children from the hotel day care to parents in the dining room. For high-end properties with demanding clientele, this becomes a unique point of differentiation in a very competitive industry. Hotels are increasingly finding that these highly personalized services, enabled by 3-D location, are the ‘something extra’ which gives them an advantage over the competition and keeps satisfed guests coming back for more.
Manlio Allegra is co-founder and CEO of Polaris Wireless, a company who will be at HITEC Minneapolis 2019 in Orion Labs’ booth in the HITEC Exhibit Hall. HITEC Minneapolis takes place June 17–20, 2019 at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota USA.