Technology: Tomorrow's hotel in the Middle East

Aruba Networks Middle East & Turkey hospitality business development manager Graeme Kane reveals how technology is driving the future of hotels

Aruba Networks Middle East & Turkey hospitality business development manager Graeme Kane.
Aruba Networks Middle East & Turkey hospitality business development manager Graeme Kane.

A new breed of traveller is already playing a key role in shaping the travel industry in the Middle East.

Millennials (aka #GenMobile), and their influence will continue to strengthen over the next decade. By 2020, millennials will represent over half of the total spend in this space. This continuously-connected, context-aware generation places a high importance on personalisation and memorable experience in their travels. And they expect mobile technology to be their enabler.

Hotel chains are already responding to this shift in their customer base by creating or purchasing boutique brands to add to their portfolio. Gen Y-focused brands have been created to meet the demands of millennials. These guests demand the latest technology to help them stay connected and engaged, and expect hotel chains and other travel-related industries to personalise their experience through technology. Over 70% of these travellers say free Wi-Fi plays a key role in deciding where they book. So being able to provide the best possible Wi-Fi experience, personalised with mobile engagement solutions, is critical for hotels.

Utilisation rates in hotel gyms, spas, bars, restaurants, cafés and business centres are important as these constitute a sunk cost and have corresponding operational costs.

These cost drivers can be turned into revenue streams by answering five key questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why?

Technology now exists so hotels can identify ‘who’ is entering the facility, ‘what’ they are interested in (based on previous visits), ‘where’ they are inclined to spend more time within the property, and, most importantly, ‘why’ they are taking these actions.

This type of information and data can help a hospitality programme manager build a relevant, customised loyalty programme that benefits the customer but also lowers maintenance costs in the back office for the company. The aim is to create an experience guests will write home about.

Mobile connectivity at a hotel is no longer just about high-speed internet access. but about offering guests an immersive, personalised experience that boosts guest loyalty and increases hotel revenue. From wayfinding and push notifications, based on an individual’s location and personal preferences, to simplified check-in/ check-out, mobile solutions allow travellers to have a “wow” experience on every step of their journey.

Predictive, proactive, and actionable data opens the door to new travel experiences. With the proliferation of IoT devices and deployment of the latest technologies like Bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacons, and armed with data to capture the traveller’s preferences, hotels these days possess the abililty to ensure a dynamic and personalised customer experience by creating and deploying a well thought out mobile application and guest engagement strategy.

The same level of interaction that customers already experience in airports, retail, stadia and museums is brought to the hospitality arena in order to lift service levels and increase customer satisfaction by enabling customer engagement at a personal level. These engagements lead to aggregated personalised data which, in turn, helps hospitality facilities improve their programmes, services and utilisation rates as well as, ultimately, lower costs in the end.

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