How Independent Hotels Can Boost Bookings This Valentine’s Day

Love and travel go hand in hand and so many properties take advantage of Valentine’s Day to attract more bookings. In fact, as a hotel, it can be hard to stand out among all the other hotels touting red roses, bubbles and chocolates.

To be irresistible, try doing something a little different. Whether promotions are limited to Valentine’s Day weekend, the week, or available to guests throughout the month of love, here are some ideas for attracting more guests this Valentine’s Day.

Create Enticing Packages

It’s true that guests expect classic add-ons like red roses, wine and chocolates with romance packages, but if you want your Valentine’s Day package to stand out, go above and beyond the usual…

Think Local: What’s special about your destination or property? Is it the unbeatable skiing? Your award-winning dining? Think about the features that set your location or hotel apart — your unique selling proposition (USP) — and incorporate it into the design and marketing of your package.

You can get really creative; for example, if your destination offers hot air balloon rides, consider partnering up with a tour operator to offer a “Love is in the Air” package that includes a balloon ride. Or provide tickets to a big show and include dinner for two for the ultimate date night package. If your property boasts a pretty lakeshore or beautifully landscaped grounds in the Southern Hemisphere, why not create a romantic package that includes a picnic lunch, complete with a wicker picnic basket and a cozy blanket?

Think Beyond Couples: Valentine’s Day is often a tad tedious for singles, so tempt them to spoil themselves with an offer that focuses on friends — like a “Girls’ Night Out” package that includes tickets to a show. How about a “Girls’ Night In” package with free in-room movie rentals, chocolates, wine and popcorn? Or tempt singles to indulge with a spa package for friends, or a package that includes a fun activity such as free canoe or bike rentals, horseback riding or amusement park tickets.

Romantic evenings out are few and far between for parents of young children, so a romantic package (perhaps offering a couples massage and a candlelit dinner for two) that includes babysitting could entice family travelers that would have otherwise stayed home.

Throw a Fancy Party

Another way to stand out is to host a big event. Whether it’s a masquerade ball, an old-fashioned barn dance, or a carnival like Hotel Figueroa’s “Love, A Fair” held last year, people love to celebrate and Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse.

Make tickets available to locals, and include entrance with your Valentine’s Day package for overnight guests (which could also work to turn some of the locals into overnight guests).

Hosting such an event provides a great opportunity for boosting F&B revenue as well as overnight bookings, and makes for a great marketing and publicity opportunity too.

Organize Fun Activities for Your Guests

Throwing a fancy party does require a significant amount of effort and might not be right for all properties, but you don’t have to host a big event to get noticed.

Consider organizing special Valentine’s Day activities that are available to your guests, paid or free, or as part of your Valentine’s Day packages. Some ideas for activities include meditation or yoga classes, cooking classes, dance classes, romantic movie screenings, wine tastings, a love-themed happy hour, bocce ball tournament, or paint (and sip) night.

Share the Love on Social Media and Your Blog

Simply joining the conversation does wonders for boosting engagement and reach (and ultimately bookings). Use your social media platforms and blog to share romantic ideas and suggestions, such as the most romantic local date spots, gift ideas and fun activities for couples. Ask your followers to weigh in with their own ideas.

You could even create a hashtag like #myperfectdate and ask followers to share the story of their best date or how they met their significant other for the chance to win a hotel gift voucher or date night.

Finally, promote your Valentine’s Day packages, events and activities on your social media platforms and blog too, as well as on your website, via your e-newsletter, online ads and OTAs. Include enticing images to stand out from the crowd and engage your customers’ emotions. And use keywords like “romantic,” “gift,” “chocolates,” and “Valentine’s Day” to boost organic search rankings.

Valentine’s Day can be a lucrative event for hotels that put a little love and effort into their campaigns — after all, love is a two-way street!

Sierra Blanca Cabins

Sierra Blanca Cabins offers one- and two-bedroom log-style cabins in Ruidoso, New Mexico, on three acres bordering the Ruidoso River, including some that are pet-friendly. Ruidoso Downs Racetrack, Billy The Kid Casino and Casino Apache are just 10 minutes away. Amenities include cozy stone fireplaces, kitchenettes, BBQ grills and a children’s playground. This property has just started using our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their operations! Visit their website to see how they’re using WebRezPro to take online bookings!

The Power of Post-Stay Emails: Top Tips for Independent Hoteliers

Nowadays, most lodging operators send confirmation emails to customers upon booking. Many properties also capitalize on their customers’ growing anticipation of their stay by sending pre-arrival emails… But how about after the guest checks out? As a lodging operator, are you sending post-stay emails to your guests?

Many of our WebRezPro customers have found that sending post-stay emails generates engagement with previous guests, whether it’s a quick reply directly to the hotel, a review, or a new Facebook fan.

Post-stay emails are an effective tool for keeping your hotel top of your guest’s mind; properties that aren’t sending post-stay emails are missing out on a great opportunity for turning customers into repeat guests and brand ambassadors.

It’s not hard to do, especially with a property management system that offers automated guest email functionality. Here are our tips for a successful post-stay email campaign.

Get Their Email Address!

You’re thinking, thank you, Captain Obvious, aren’t you? But this is just a wee reminder that if for some reason you didn’t get the guest’s email address at the time of booking — perhaps they booked through an OTA — don’t hesitate to politely ask them for it upon check-out. Telling them you would like to email them a coupon code for a discount on their next stay, or for a friend, is an offer most guests can’t refuse.

The Thank-You / Feedback-Request Email

Send a timely thank-you email to your guest, ideally within three days of the guest’s departure, saying that you enjoyed having them stay and that you hope they had a great time. Inject some personality into the message so that it doesn’t sound canned.

In the same email, mention that you would love to hear their feedback on their stay experience and invite them to write an online review. Make it easy and quick for them to do so by including a direct link to your TripAdvisor review page, for example.

In case a guest did not have a good experience, ask them to contact you directly with any negative feedback so that you can attend to it immediately, and provide a specific (eg. manager@yourhotel.com) rather than generic (eg. info@yourhotel.com) email address, if possible.

Some properties use an automated post-stay survey tool like that from Revinate, which makes collecting feedback a breeze. Revinate offers some great tips on writing post-stay surveys.

You can also encourage guests to share their photos on social media, and let them know your social media handles or any hashtags for tagging. Or simply invite them to follow you on social media for opportunities to access special offers.

If you have a loyalty program, invite customers to join by including a link to your loyalty program information page.

Maintaining the Relationship

A successful post-stay email campaign doesn’t end after the thank-you / feedback-request email. As time goes on, targeted post-stay marketing emails are key to reminding your guests of the great experience they had at your property. However, there are some very important tips to consider if you don’t want your customers to hit “unsubscribe.”

Offer real value. Keep customers engaged by offering something of value, be it a discount for a future stay, informing them of current or upcoming promotions or events that may be of interest, sharing a recipe from your restaurant, or reminding them of their experience with a webcam shot of the fresh powder on the slopes outside your door.

Target your offers. Targeting the right offers to the right customers is key to offering real value. The information that you collect about a guest in order to personalize their experience — from the moment they make a booking and throughout their stay — should also be used to target your email campaigns. Even simple segmentation, like targeting corporate offers to business travellers, romantic packages to couples, and kids’ activities to families, results in more effective campaigns. A property management system like WebRezPro also offers the ability to set up customized email templates tied to certain rates and room types.

The data in your property management system is the foundation of personalized service and targeted communications, and can be integrated with your CRM or email marketing system to automate highly targeted email campaigns.

Time it right. There are no set rules when it comes to timing future post-stay emails; it may take some time to figure out what works best for your property. While you don’t want to annoy customers (and lose subscribers) by emailing too often, you don’t want them to forget about you either.

As a start, one or two months after check-out, you could send guests a discount code for a future stay. You could even promote different seasonal experiences by highlighting your location’s best winter attributes and packages to guests who stayed in summer, and vice versa.

Six months post-stay, you might want to check in with them again, to make sure your property remains top of mind as they plan future getaways. Remind them of their previous stay (and offer value) with a cocktail recipe from your bar, or a photo of a stunning sunset from your ocean-view pool deck. Offer that discount code again or let them know of any relevant special deals. Tell them you’d love to see them again.

A few weeks before the guest’s booking anniversary, trigger another email reminding them of their last stay and inviting them back with a special discount or free upgrade.

General Tips

Personalize. As mentioned above (and mentioned here again because it’s very important), inject your brand’s personality into your emails. If you want to engage your customers, make the message personal and friendly; canned or generic emails are a big turn off.

Address the guest by name, rather than “Dear Guest.” This process can be automated through your property management system by using template keywords. Sign off from an actual staff member.

Optimize for mobile. With more than half of all emails opened on mobile devices, it’s now more important than ever before to make sure all of your email communications are mobile friendly. Constant Contact offers some good tips for creating mobile-friendly emails, like keeping it simple, using easy-to-read text, and limiting images. If you use an email marketing service like Guestfolio or Constant Contact, you’re in great hands.

Social media buttons. Social media buttons that link directly to your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages make it easy for your customers to connect with and follow your property on social channels. They should be included in every email template.

“Unsubscribe” option. Always include an “unsubscribe” link in all emails. This is required by spam law.

Automate. It’s just not possible for busy hoteliers to take the time to personally write to each and every guest. That’s why property management systems like WebRezPro offer customizable email templates and automated delivery.  While standard template wording is included, we recommend you take the time to word your own emails to reflect the personality of your brand, as mentioned above.

Property management systems can also be integrated with CRM and email marketing programs that take your email campaigns to the next level through automation of email list management, targeting based on guest data, and scheduling, as well as professionally designed and fully customizable templates, and results tracking.

To sum it all up, post-stay emails are a powerful customer retention tool — as long as they are relevant to the customer. To be relevant, they should be targeted to your guest and offer something of value. Remind your guests why they love your property and they’ll come back for more.

The Village Inn of East Burke

The Village Inn is a charming bed & breakfast in East Burke, Vermont. Offering seven guest rooms and one apartment, this family-friendly, pet-friendly inn provides complimentary full breakfast, a hot tub and a kitchen for guest use. Nearby activities include biking, Nordic and alpine skiing and snowmobiling. The Village Inn has just started using our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their day-to-day operations. Visit their website to see how they’re using WebRezPro’s availability calendar and how WebRezPro is being used to take online bookings!

A Smile Will Never Be Obsolete: How to Maximize Positive Employee-Guest Interactions

The latest J.D. Power North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study (2015) revealed that guest satisfaction has risen to a record high, driven by a significant drop in the number of guests who experienced a problem during their stay. The study found that staff interactions with guests have a huge impact on mitigating problems; there is a 50 percent reduction in the average number of problems experienced when staff members greet guests with a smile “all the time,” compared to when guests are only greeted with a smile “sometimes.”

Despite all the technology available to us today and the digitization of customer care, face-to-face service is still key to great hospitality.

Here’s how to maximize positive employee-guest interaction for maximum guest satisfaction.

Find the Right People. 

It only makes sense that people working in hospitality should be hospitable themselves, but I’m sure we’ve all experienced interactions with hotel or restaurant staff that we hoped were just having a bad day!

Take time to find the right people for your business. In hospitality that typically means friendly, empathetic personalities with the ability to remain calm under pressure and anticipate guests’ needs. You want staff who are willing to go above and beyond for your guests, earn their loyalty, and turn them into advocates for your property.

Cross-Train & Empower Your Staff. 

Opening this winter, Arrive Palm Springs is a next-generation hotel that aims to make guest service as smooth and simple as possible by doing away with many traditional hotel formalities like the front desk. To fulfil such a mission, the hotel has adopted an “anyone can help” attitude; recruiting employees that are willing and happy to perform tasks outside of their job description, and cross-training staff to help each other out.

We like how Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, puts it: “Customer service shouldn’t just be a department, it should be the entire company.”

Cross-training your staff empowers them to take responsibility of various situations, helping to ensure that customer requests and complaints are dealt with quickly and according to policy, increasing not only guest satisfaction but employee job satisfaction too.

Engage Your Employees. 

“Highly engaged employees make the customer experience. Disengaged employees break it.” — Timothy R. Clark in The 5 Ways That Highly Engaged Employees are Different.

A while ago we shared some tips on how to increase staff engagement, which included fostering a learning culture with ongoing training and frequent feedback, sharing company goals and numbers with your employees to give them a sense of ownership, recognizing and rewarding high performance, and creating a strong team environment to ensure that all departments run together like a well-oiled machine.

Equip Your Employees with the Right Tools.

From training to software, strive to provide your staff with the tools that empower them to perform their tasks excellently — not just adequately. Take, for example, your front desk software: an efficient check-in process is crucial, but imagine the enhanced level of service that can be achieved with a system that allows reservation-specific notes and pop-ups to be set for service personalization purposes, like congratulating the happy couple checking in for their honeymoon. As another example, mobile property management systems free your staff from the front desk, allowing them to tend to guests promptly from anywhere on your property.

“Never underestimate the power of the human element. Whether it’s assisting a guest with a special request or a friendly greeting from staff members in the hallway, the people aspect plays a key role in guest satisfaction and loyalty.” — Ramez Faza, Sr. Account Manager at J.D. Power and Associates.

Stevenson Farms B&B

Stevenson Farms B&B in Alliston, Ontario, invites visitors to enjoy over 180 years of local history in this unique estate formerly owned by T.P. Loblaw. This unique property offers six historically appointed guest rooms, a heritage banquet hall, a private movie theatre and a full-service organic day spa. Stevenson Farms B&B has just started using our cloud-based WebRezPro Property Management System to help with their operations. Visit their website to see how they’re using WebRezPro’s integrated web reservation software to take online bookings!

Boost Revenue with Hotel Gift Certificates

To some people a gift certificate is the ideal gift, allowing the recipient to choose what to spend it on; to others, gift certificates are not such a thoughtful idea. But, whichever way you look at it, gift certificates (or gift vouchers or gift cards) are a very popular option when it comes to gift giving.

Hotel gift certificates hold a prepaid amount (or customer credit) for future use at the property. Gift certificates for hotel stays are especially appealing because they represent a memorable experience rather than a physical product, making them a personal and thoughtful gift. They also offer convenience in their flexibility, allowing the recipient to redeem their gift certificate any time before the expiry date.

For lodging operators, gift certificates are a great way to promote their property, build their customer base and increase revenue streams.

The Advantages of Selling Hotel Gift Certificates

When a happy customer purchases a hotel gift certificate for a friend or family member, they are actively advocating that property — building the property’s credibility and reputation, and expanding the property’s reach.

Gift certificates are a way for the satisfied guest to share their positive experience with someone they care about and feel will enjoy your property just as much as they did. This means that gift certificate recipients are highly targeted customers with good potential for becoming loyal guests. Satisfied gift certificate recipients are likely to return and/or buy a gift certificate for one of their friends or family members.

Once gift certificate recipients are on property, they usually spend more than the value of the voucher — particularly on ancillary services — making gift certificates a great way to maximize revenue. According to research conducted by the gift card industry, 72 percent of customers spend more than the value of their card.

And for those gift certificates not redeemed, well, that’s 100 percent straight profit!

How to Sell Hotel Gift Certificates

Manual or paper-based methods of selling and managing gift certificates are prone to error; keeping track of voucher numbers, values and expiry/issue dates manually is time consuming and can lead to inaccuracies that cause confusion and even revenue loss. To sell and manage gift certificates efficiently and successfully, an automated system is key.

Some property management systems (PMS) like WebRezPro include a gift certificate function that allows properties to sell pre-paid customer credits as gift vouchers for future stays, automatically track vouchers and their associated codes, values, issue/expiry dates and customer information, and easily convert vouchers into real reservations upon redemption.

When it comes to promoting your gift certificates, don’t be shy! Your guests can be made aware that gift certificates are available a number of ways: via signage at the front desk, the in-room guide, post-stay emails, your website and social media. Customers will especially appreciate the option to purchase gift certificates leading up to traditional gift-giving holidays like Christmas.

Focus on promoting gift certificates as a special, memorable experience… and live up to that promise. Hotel gift certificate recipients have high expectations — after all, their stay is a very personal and thoughtful gift!

How a Cloud Property Management System Can Help Your Hotel Stand Out

Battling inefficient hotel management systems and processes takes time and focus away from guest service. Without the right technology, your property could stand out for all the wrong reasons — like long check-in lines, generic service and archaic amenities — or, at best, be just another run-of-the-mill hotel.

To be something special and stand out for all the right reasons, a property needs smart technology at the heart of operations. We’re talking about technology that streamlines processes, allows you to reach your customers online, and empowers you to personalize guest service and make smarter decisions.

A cloud property management system (PMS) can help a property stand out in all the ways mentioned above. Let’s look more closely at how:

Streamlines Operations for Smoother Service

From automating guest email communications to integrations with online distribution channels and other core systems, a cloud PMS makes daily processes more efficient by removing manual steps that take up too much of your time.

But perhaps the most impactful characteristic of a cloud PMS when it comes to productivity and guest service is mobility. Cloud PMS are optimized for mobile devices, meaning the system can be seamlessly accessed from a desktop, tablet PC or even a smartphone. Such mobility frees staff from the bounds of the front desk so that they can attend to guests and operational issues more efficiently.

Take, for example, WebRezPro PMS’ paperless check-in feature, which allows guests to sign registration cards digitally on a tablet, streamlining the check-in process (and saving paper!) and impressing guests. The Mobile Housekeeping Report is another popular cloud PMS application that improves productivity and inter-staff communication by enabling housekeepers to view and update room status from their mobile device as they work, and providing front desk staff with real-time information about which rooms are ready for guests.

Working with inefficient systems causes hotel staff frustration and stress and takes focus away from guests. Staff are much happier working with modern, efficient technology that supports them with the tools they need to deliver great guest service. By automating processes and being accessible on the go, a cloud PMS helps to bring the best out of your staff — and it’s that friendly, efficient service that makes a property stand out.

Expands Online Reach

Cloud PMS offer direct online booking engines that can be incorporated into any (and every) page of a property’s own website, greatly increasing booking accessibility; customers shopping online from anywhere in the world can easily make a reservation as soon as they are ready.

The simple convenience of an easy online booking process is appreciated by customers, and the better the engine, the more you stand out. Consider booking options or add-ons, such as cots, wine, roses and tours, which can be added to reservations with a single click during the room booking process, allowing customers to effortlessly personalize their stay. Even if a customer doesn’t opt for extras, they’ll take a mental note of the ability to do so.

Through direct integration with third-party distribution channels (like Expedia and Booking.com), cloud PMS centralize and automate management of channel inventory, rates and reservations data through the PMS, making effective online distribution more accessible to small properties — and, therefore, expanding online visibility.

Even guest email communications, which can be automated via a PMS to ensure no guest is missed, can help to expand online visibility. WebRezPro PMS’ integrations with Revinate Post-Stay Surveys and guest communications system Guestfolio provide automated delivery of post-stay guest surveys, which can be submitted directly to TripAdvisor to boost online visibility and reputation. Simply including links (or social icons) to your social media pages in email templates can also help boost your online presence by increasing customer engagement online.

Through direct online bookings, seamless integrations with online distribution channels, and automated guest email communications, cloud PMS help your property stand out online.

Powers Personalization for Stand-Out Service

Cloud PMS offer numerous features that help hoteliers personalize and enhance the guest experience.

Detailed guest profiles and integrations with other hotel systems (such as CRM, POS, in-room entertainment systems and concierge apps) enable cloud PMS to break down the data silos of yore, to provide hoteliers with centralized, more accessible guest data that can be more effectively used to inform smarter marketing decisions and more personalized guest service.

In addition to empowering staff to provide personalized service during a guest’s stay, easy access to rich guest data allows lodging operators to target guest email communications more effectively, design packages that are truly relevant to their customers, and to implement loyalty programs that offer their guests real value — all of which enhance guest service… and all of which can be managed through a cloud PMS like WebRezPro.

And then there are features like booking options (mentioned above) — which provide customers with an instant and easy way to customize their own stay experience at the time of booking — and paperless check-in (also mentioned above) that impress guests by facilitating efficient yet personalized service.

Going back to mobility; with the PMS in the palm of their hands, hotel staff have instant access to guest data as well as housekeeping, maintenance and guest requests logged in the system, enabling them to tend to service issues in a much more timely and informed manner.

It’s that kind of personalized, attentive service that gives a property the “wow” factor.

Informs Business Strategy to Stand Out in the Market

One of the advantages of a cloud PMS is accessibility to data, and the breadth of reports that can be generated at the click of a button. When PMS data is used as the foundation of operational and marketing strategies, it has the power to drive reservations and boost revenue.

Look for a PMS that provides all the necessary reporting for your property — revenue and occupancy reports, reservation reports, ADR and RevPAR, booking sources, rate/pricing reports, accounting reports, etc. — and includes a custom reporting feature that allows you to pull very specific data as required.

The rich data contained within a PMS can be used to inform overall business strategy in many ways. Guest data can tell you who spends the most and who keeps coming back so that you can design marketing efforts and packages to better target the demographic of your best customers. Reservation reports will show you things like which rooms and rates are selling fastest. Online booking engine analytics will reveal conversions through your website, providing insight on the effectiveness of your website and booking widget. Review booking sources to discover your most profitable channels and optimize distribution spend. Rate reports expose pricing patterns used to make revenue management decisions (PMS with revenue management system integration offer more advanced, automated yield management). The list goes on.

Centralizing data, cloud PMS make analysing the numbers easier. Comprehensive reporting functionality arms lodging operators with the information they need to gain a clear view of operations, marketing and finances, and to implement smarter strategies for more effective results that can really make a property stand out in the market.

PMS and POS Integration for Smoother Sales & Happier Guests

Integration of core hotel systems is key to streamlining operations property-wide. In the past, integrating legacy hotel systems was a complicated, lengthy and expensive process, but these days, through open APIs, common Web standards and rapid innovation, cloud technology is paving the way to easier, faster and more effective system integration, empowering hotels to improve efficiency and share data across departments for a deeper understanding of guests and the market.

For lodging operators, on-property points of sale like a restaurant, gift shop or spa add another layer of complexity to daily operations, but a simple interface between the property management system (PMS) and point-of-sale (POS) system can save hoteliers significant time and increase billing accuracy for more satisfied guests and improved revenue.

Better Billing Management

PMS–POS integration streamlines the process of charging restaurant sales and other incidental charges to a guest’s room.

When PMS and POS systems are not integrated, restaurant bills and other incidental sales and services charged to a guest’s room must be communicated to the front desk and added to the guest’s folio manually. But, as is the nature of the hospitality industry, busy staff are often sidetracked by more pressing tasks. Come check-out time, even the most organised front desk can face billing discrepancies, resulting in annoyed guests arguing charges on their bill, or a loss of revenue where charges have inadvertently been left off a guest’s folio. By automating the process of posting incidental charges to guest reservation folios, PMS–POS integration eliminates these types of manual errors.

How does it work? It’s quite simple: through the interface, the POS system queries the PMS in real time to verify guest status and room number, and then automatically posts the charge to the relevant folio within the PMS — giving staff more time to focus on guest service, and eliminating billing inaccuracies due to human error, such as misplaced tickets and typos.

Better Guest Service

It goes without saying that billing errors are normally a source of frustration for guests. By eliminating errors via automation, hoteliers can help to ensure a pleasant guest experience upon check-out.

In fact, a PMS–POS integration improves the guest experience throughout the stay. Guests looking for a hassle-free stay generally appreciate the convenience of not having to get their wallet out every time they dine onsite or make other on-property purchases. The ability to charge purchases to guestrooms is perceived by guests as a thoughtful touch designed for their comfort and convenience; automating the process ensures billing accuracy, reducing disputes and increasing guest satisfaction.

Improving billing efficiency and accuracy for the convenience of your staff and guests, PMS–POS integration just makes sense.  So it’s unsurprising that a recent survey by hotel management software research company Software Advice found that hoteliers are increasingly seeking PMS with POS integration.

WebRezPro PMS integrates with a number of leading POS systems. If you don’t see your POS provider on the list, contact us to find out if integration is possible.

Want to learn how integrating your PMS with other hotel systems (such as GDS and OTA providers, in-room entertainment systems, payment gateways, digital marketing software, voice mail systems and more) can help you improve efficiency and guest service? Check out our Quick Guide to PMS Integration.

Futuristic Hotel Technology That’s Here Now

Technology is progressing at a rapid pace; in the hospitality industry, big hotel chains like Starwood are currently testing some space-age gadgetry that could come straight from a sci-fi movie.

You probably wouldn’t guess that visiting a hotel chain’s headquarters would be like getting a peek into Batman’s Batcave, but that’s kind of what it must have been like for a Yahoo Travel editor invited to Starwood’s HQ. Imagine concept hotel rooms that serve as hotel innovation labs where amazing technology is bought to life, like RFID (radio frequency ID) carpet that recognizes your step and lights your way for a midnight bathroom break, and touchscreen smart mirrors that allow you to check the weather or read today’s headlines while you brush your teeth, or virtual reality exercise bikes that take you along a scenic outdoor trail without leaving the fitness center. It’s all very exciting and not so far away from becoming an everyday hotel stay reality.

Technology sure moves fast and it’s hard to keep up. Are you aware of these futuristic gadgets that are wowing guests in hotels right now?…

Robotic Bellhop

Yotel, a high-tech hotel located at New York’s Times Square, features the world’s first robotic luggage handler that automatically stores guests’ excess bags in space-saving storage compartments. The large robotic arm called Yobot stands 15 feet high and is a useful addition to a hotel with small (yet futuristic) guestrooms where even the beds are motorized to fold up for more floor space when not in use.

Robot Butler

A compact three-foot tall Botlr (robot butler) greets guests with a cheerful beep at Aloft Cupertino in Silicon Valley. The first of several Botlrs being tested by Starwood-owned Aloft, the little robo-butler named A.L.O. delivers requested amenities like extra towels to guestrooms, freeing up human hotel staff to focus on more intricate service matters. Equipped with a camera and other sensors, A.L.O. efficiently navigates the hotel with ease — operating the elevator via wireless — and communicates with guests via a flat-panel display.

Keyless Entry

A number of big brands like Hilton and Starwood are already testing keyless guestroom entry via a smartphone app at select properties, and at some Starwood properties, you can now unlock your room with your Apple Watch. Guests at the Alma Barcelona can access their room simply by scanning their fingerprint, and Boston’s Nine Zero Hotel admits guests into the pricey Cloud Suite via retinal scan!

Room Control Apps

Custom hotel apps are going beyond room reservations and local information, taking the personalized guest experience to new heights. Luxurious rooms at The Halkin by COMO in London feature touchscreen consoles that allow guests to call the butler, request guest services, control lighting and temperature and more, and in-room tablets at Peninsula Hotels and the Aria in Las Vegas allow guests to do much the same. Guests at Virgin Hotels can download a personal assistant app called Lucy, which covers room reservations, in-room climate control, room service, spa bookings, concierge services and even access to a guest chat board.

A Robot-Run Hotel

In an ambitious bid to increase efficiency, robots make up the main staff at Henn na Hotel, which opened last month in Sasebo, Japan. At Henn na Hotel (translating to “Weird Hotel” in English), guests are greeted by a Japanese-speaking humanoid robot and an English-speaking robot dinosaur at the front desk, and there are also robotic porters and cleaners. Guests are encouraged to “enjoy conversing with these warm and friendly robots as they efficiently go about their work.” (Just try not to think about Terminator, I, Robot, or The Transformers.) Self-service check-in and check-out, and keyless room entry via facial recognition technology contribute to a smooth, automated process… and there are human staff on site to make sure guests are safe.

 

Whether it scares or excites you, hotel technology is ever evolving — all in the name of enhancing the guest experience.