How Beacons Are Transforming Guest Satisfaction in Hotels

The future of most businesses nowadays depends on a good slice of technology, whether it be providing better communication to clients and customers or producing game changing products. One place where tech is beginning to guarantee better experiences is the hotel and leisure industry where beacon technology is transforming how businesses and customers connect on a deeper, more personal level.

Beacons have a number of practical applications. Essentially they provide a way of interacting with customers who are close by and can be used to not only enhance experience but also increase revenue by pushing relevant notifications and current offers. Initially tried out in the retail industry but now making an impact everywhere from cinemas and museums to fun parks and hotels, beacons have been able to overcome problems suffered by other technology, including GPS, such as poor or intermittent reception and granularity. 

How Businesses Use Beacons 

The key to beacons is micro-location that can provide a more exact location and interaction service. They can be set up to provide a full coverage service for hotels that allows everything from ordering room service to sending out targeted offers of cut price spa treatments during quiet periods.
Beacons, in association with dedicated apps, are also a great way for hotels to develop their marketing strategy further by gathering pertinent insights into guest behaviour, for instance which areas of the hotel are the most popular and when they are primarily used. With more information at hand, hotel managers can pick just the right time to offer upgrades or upsell products and services such as restaurant meals, bar deals or massages as well as deliver a more seamless experience to guests. 

The Benefits for Guests 

We are more used to technology nowadays and the benefits it can bring and the way it undoubtedly creates more choice. Perhaps a few years ago, we may have been more reticent about giving part control of our smartphones to the hotel in which we were staying but the benefits now far outweigh the cons. 

Allow Your Guests to Check-in Digitally 

If your hotel is busy and there is a queue at the reception desk to check-in, beacons can make it easier so guests don’t have to stand in line. If you have a beacon placed nearby it can then send a digital check-in message to an arriving guest’s smartphone via Bluetooth, which they can then accept. They will already have filled in their details when they initially booked, so after a long journey they can opt to go straight to their room. 

Direct Your Guests by Phone 

With innovations such as GPS the problem was always accuracy within a small area which meant that directing a guest around a place like a hotel was always going to be difficult. With the appropriately placed beacons on site this problem is easily solved. Guests are targeted to their room without any hassle, something that large establishments have found invaluable. Not only that, directions can be given to find important areas such as the bar, restaurant, salon or swimming pool without having to ask any staff who happen to be wandering past.
Hotels can also load virtual tours onto their apps for smartphones or tablets giving guests an interactive outline of what is available during their stay and allowing them to book particular services. 

Digital Doors Linked to Smartphones 

One of the key successes in recent years has been the development of digital technology that adds both security and ease of use to opening the hotel door. Once your guest has signed in using their smartphone, the same device can then be activated as a smart key that gives them access without having to go to the reception desk for a card or key.
This can be either implemented using a code or simply by the guest being in close proximity to the room door itself. 

Using Beacons Inside the Room 

Once the guest is inside their room they can operate all that they need using their smartphone, from switching on the lights, regulating the temperature, ordering films or other entertainment, as well as having quick and easy access to room service. All of this, of course, can be combined with push notifications to appraise guests of everything that is on offer and implemented when they come in close proximity of any area of the room, such as the TV.
One way that beacons, in conjunction with smartphone technology, can work is by dropping an invitation to enjoy some room service. If you have an idea of the kind of food that a guest likes, you can organise your menu accordingly and send them a personal message to check it out. They can then order by the touch of a button. Because the beacon allows the hotel staff to know that the guest is in their room, everything is automated to the point where the food is cooked and delivered to the door. 

Pushing Offers and Building Loyalty 

Assuming the hotel has got its marketing strategy right then the beacon technology can be used to tailor offers to clients to build loyalty and increase the prospect of upselling. In the past you might send coupons and offers blindly to guests using a pretty much scattergun approach. Beacons allow you to target more effectively, especially as you continue to build up a profile of a particular guest. If you know that they enjoy a morning swim, a push notification for when the best time is to take the plunge can encourage them to use this facility more.
The importance of location based marketing cannot be underestimated here. If a guest is in close proximity to the salon for instance, sending them a notification of a special offer if they pop in and say hello has more choice of leading to a sale than if the guest is lying back in their room reading a book. 

Hassle Free Check Out 

When guests are in a hurry to get going on their last day, you can send them a push notification of their final bill which they can then agree to on their smartphone, again releasing them from the hassle of having to queue to pay their bill. This same process can alternatively be used to encourage them to extend their stay. 

The Benefits for Hotels 

While providing their guests with a more seamless experience, hotels in turn benefit from more in-depth analytics that can not only help deliver a superior service to customers while they are staying but to help develop future strategies for building the business. 

Upselling and Upgrading 

Ample opportunities arise for upgrading to better rooms or upselling particular hotel offers when you have access to more of the data you need. This no longer needs to be a hit or miss affair. With beacons and can better tailor marketing and offers to provide the customer with much more of what they need.
Let’s say you have an exhibition in the lobby and your guest spends quite a large amount of dwell time there. If you have similar or complementary products on sale in your shop, then you could send them a personal notification that you have some special offers if they would like to see them. Targeting under specific circumstances leads to a better chance of an up sale than if a blanket notification is sent out to everyone. 

Monitoring and Analysing 

The presence of beacons provides ample opportunity to build several key analytics including which attractions are most popular and the time of day people tend to visit them. They can be used to make menu choices for room service based on guest favourites or you can develop better strategies for having key areas properly staffed.
You can also use beacon technology to monitor staff activities and improve productivity by alerting the appropriate staff that a certain area needs to be attended to as well as monitor which rooms guests have checked out of to be prepared for the next visitors.
There are plenty of uses that a hotel app, when connected to a guest’s smart device via beacons, can be put to, providing what many term as a ’personal concierge’. It allows opportunities for hotels to deliver a top class service while also improving their profitability, a win-win situation for all concerned. 

The author is marketing head of MobiMedia, a company that specialises in mobile-led digital solutions and a part time food blogger. The views expressed are his own.

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