Faced with a more competitive landscape, smart hotel operators are keeping their properties fresh by innovating in such areas as work spaces for business travelers, more creative meeting room configurations, free Wi-Fi, and adapting new technology to reach guests on mobile devices.
Business Center as Mobile Office
Hotels are creating spaces for business travelers who need small offices for short periods of time, for example, to conduct an afternoon brainstorming session or an interview. Going beyond the traditional business center by providing private locations, the new spaces are designed to be communal and interactive while also offering individual work zones. Adding features such as mobile furniture, and integrated technology make spaces ideal for collaborative sessions. This new twist on the business center can build guest loyalty and bring in incremental business to boost the bottom line.
Nontraditional Meeting Spaces
According to a recent poll of hotel operators, more than half noted that meeting planners have asked for nontraditional seating and setups. Forward thinking operators are converting under-performing restaurants or guest halls into large meeting areas that can be separated by decorative panels to create separate spaces or used together, offering meeting planners maximum flexibility. New options include built-in kitchens, entertainment venues and theaters. For example, a stage can be set in the center of a meeting room surrounded by couches and small tables instead of lined-up chairs and desks. Another way of shaking up a traditional meeting space is by offering food and bar stations in the room and letting guests serve themselves, as opposed to having a formalized coffee break.
Tiered Wi-Fi Services
We've all experienced it, thankfully less now than a few years ago. We settle into a hotel room, take a sip of coffee and flip on our laptop only to discover our hotel charges for Wi-Fiaccess... up to $50/day in some cases. With the trend today to offer free Wi-Fi, hotel owners and operators have come to recognize that digital content is a real point of differentiation, particularly to reach business and millennial travelers. However, how do you make money from "free" W-Fi service? One solution is offering faster connections to guests willing to pay a premium, such as business travelers who are able to expense the charge or to guests as part of a loyalty program.
Beacon in the Night
Along with digital signage, hotels are beginning to explore beacon technology. This location-based service uses transmitters to push notifications to mobile devices when hotel guests walk by a targeted area, such as a welcome message at the check-in counter, or a special offer as a guest walks past a grab-and-go food market in the lobby. Guests opt-in to receive the alerts by turning on Bluetooth on their smartphones or tablets. Beacon technology enables hotels to engage with guests at opportune times to offer personalized service, perks and incentives, or to share unique details about the hotel.