Opinion by Barbara Burton, General Manager, London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale
In a constantly changing world, London leads the way when it comes to digital innovation, output and growth; according to tech commentators, the city is now the digital capital of Europe. It therefore has become critical for hotels to keep up to date with technological advancements and trends, enabling both guest expectations to be exceeded and for brand loyalty to flourish.
Customers needs are also constantly evolving; it is reported that the top three customer needs today are shopping convenience, product information and choice. These are three important factors that the hospitality industry already abides by, nevertheless hotels can and will continue to develop technological advances to remain in the forefront of this evolving era.
I also believe that one of the main needs of the consumer today continues to be the ability to conduct business 24/7, from any location, anywhere in the world and quickly. In addition, I believe we as individuals are becoming more intelligent with information and knowledge at our finger tips, pushing us to search for the best price, products and solutions to meet our needs.
At the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale, the Marriott Mobile App keeps guests one step ahead, providing freedom and choice; including online, keyless check-in and instant chat messages exchange with hosts. Chat will become the leading form of communication with businesses as telecom continue to shrink in volume.
In keeping with both technology and the environment, gone are the days of traditional newspapers but our guests now receive access to a variety of newspapers and magazines on press reader, an application, which is suitable for business travellers on the move or leisure consumers wanting a choice of reading materials.
Meeting rooms can now also be booked online, removing the traditional email enquiry stage, waiting for a proposal and reverting back and forth with a sales associate on contractual terms. This may not be suitable for all meetings and for every customer, however, this provides a suitable booking platform for those clients who want choice, convenience and the ability to organise a meeting at anytime of the day or night.
Hotel’s PMS (Property Management Systems) are also evolving. Historically PMS were mainly a front office operation, however moving forward, hotels are looking for a system, most likely cloud based, to manage rooms F&B, finance, sales and marketing along with the ability to highly customise all areas. This change is likely resulting from how the guest experience is changing and the increased need for speed and personalised seamless service across all entities of a hotel.
Hotel staff will also need to adapt to an increased number of systems and greater technology back of house, potentially including robots, improved reservation systems and AI (Artificial Intelligence). This in turn may have a knock-on effect on the recruitment process, ensuring that the person with the right technological skills is recruited to manage a robot on the front desk.
It is a particularly interesting time for London hotels as 65 new hotels are opening in 2020 and the industry is pushing to break new boundaries with advancing and new technology.