Each week, there are multiple news stories about hotel brands embracing new guest-facing innovations. From robots to keyless entry to digital concierges, there is no shortage of new technologies that are transforming how guests interact with brands.
While these innovations create great media headlines, one has to wonder if these technologies ultimately alienate or allure guests. This is a challenging question for all hoteliers. That’s why the Wall Street Journal recently tackled the issue in this feature story.
While in the next 10 years, robots and other innovations will most likely be commonplace for many hotels – with guests being fully used to interacting with brands through technology. Today, we are seeing a technology shake-up that could be creating a divide amongst guests. For example, there seems to be a split between people who prefer interacting with humans, as opposed to texting the front desk when they need something like a toothbrush.
And although robotic butlers may have a “gee-wiz” factor that could appeal to Millennial travelers, it could cause friction for Baby Boomer guests.
As we have highlighted before, by chasing Millennials, hoteliers may risk losing their baby boomer guests, who have more money to spend. It’s all too easy to forget that many baby boomers want a frictionless, yet often a technology-less experience that will make them feel comfortable.
However, this may not be the case for all baby boomer guests. But the bottom line is that the pace of innovation could scare many away.
Of course, many hoteliers are fully aware of this demographic divide, and are trying to develop the best strategies for appealing to a wide audience of guests. But it remains that the rapid pace of hotel technology development is making the “alluring versus alienating” question very difficult to fully answer.