The hospitality industry has always depended upon good service. From the efficient way a staff member helps with luggage to a personal restaurant recommendation from the front desk to even the smile of the waiter when a family walks in, service can mean the difference between a simple stay and a holiday.
And to keep up in the digital age, many hospitality brands are turning to tech solutions to augment their guest service experience. Brands offer everything from keyless room entry to paperless checkout, all designed to ensure the guest can quickly and effortlessly interact with hotel services.
However, while high-tech concepts may draw guests to your brand and quicken engagement with hotel services, once they get in the door, it’s a high-touch delivery that will make you stand out.
Touch is the foundation of great hospitality, and if you forget it, your guests will soon check out for good. Here’s how to make sure you’re matching high tech with a high touch:1. Adapt Touch to Tech
Every time you introduce a new tool or piece of tech to your operations, you need to stop and analyze your customer service needs. You will need to perform an audit on guest satisfaction and employee training. In addition, you’ll probably need to test that initial audit with frequent spot checks to really challenge how your employees are adapting to your tech innovations.
2. Foster Employee Training 2.0
If you don’t have people behind your technology who understand exactly how it works, the technology will always fail. Something will break down; something will crash. This is why going back to basics and training your staff should be a huge part of your tech strategy. No, it’s not as sexy as a new piece of technology, but installing Employee Training 2.0 will ensure your guests don’t feel lost or confused during any point of their stay with you.
Befriend technological advances; they can bring you closer to your customer if you use them in the right way. Connect customer satisfaction with employee training, and use tech to understand both populations so you’re always making sure that your high touch is living up to your high tech.
3. Bring Back the Human Element
A few years ago, talking heads around the world were writing premature eulogies, mourning the imminent death of brick-and-mortar establishments. As it turns out, physical stores had one more card to play: omnichannel experiences.
Notable online brands like Amazon, Birchbox, and Fabletics are now moving into physical spaces at the request of their client base. The tailored travel experience is coming back into fashion in a big way — blending human interactions with high-tech experiences.
The same sentiment rings true in the hospitality sector: People are starting to miss the human element when planning a trip. A new kind of travel agent is emerging. Brands like American Excursionist have recognized that there’s a huge demand for personalized travel experiences, and you should, too. How can you tailor your guests’ experiences so they feel special?
4. Bridge Cultures With the Power of Touch
Cultural differences have a huge impact on how a hospitality brand can operate across regions and countries. Moreover, cultural differences seem to determine how guests will respond to different kinds of personal service.
For instance, according to one study published in the Journal of Tourism & Hospitality, Taiwanese tourists appreciate “friendliness and enthusiasm” most, whereas American tourists value “immediacy and efficiency.”
Touch is a sensitive and holistic quality that you can use to adapt your services to the tastes of your different guests.
5. Mirror Healthcare
Most people view vacation as a way to de-stress and rejuvenate, and hospitality brands need to be aware of that at every stage.
When I worked in healthcare in the ’80s and ’90s, we were putting tens of millions of dollars a month into buying new high-tech equipment. All of a sudden, we realized we weren’t achieving the great outcomes we were expecting. We had to go back to basics.
It’s amazing how important eye contact is to a patient. When you look into people’s eyes, they’ll know you’re on their side. The same goes for hospitality. High-tech travel is exciting, but it can’t look your guests in the eye and tell them it’s happy to see them. To be honest, you wouldn’t really want it to.
In the frenzy of high-tech adoption, it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of human interaction. Striking a balance between tech and touch will give customers the harmonious experience they truly desire.
At the end of the day, customers want to do business with people, not machines.