Technology has changed our way of traveling. And our way of traveling has changed the relationship between the traveler and the hotel. Customers are increasingly more digital. It is true that there are still some analog die-hards, who book at the same travel agency every year, who want their paper tickets, and do not give a thought to any trip that does not feature in an exhaustive brochure. If they have any queries, they make a call. There are also the super-connected travelers, who don't make a move unless it is done digitally, and who think that most of the technology available is slow, counterproductive and doesn't meet their digital needs.
And then there is the simply digital traveler, who has gradually embraced technology in their daily life, saving them time and making their life easier. This traveler is most probably not a digital native, they have been known to send a fax now and again and still remember cell phones that were meant just for calls.
But this person is planning their next vacation. They may be on the train or at home on the couch, and they start to look for information on their phone about their next destination. They check travel websites and forums for the recommendations of other travelers. They check the weather at potential destinations, the attractions, and any excursions they could do. And they compare hotel prices, photos, and the opinions of other guests.
They get home and they turn on their computer, as this is how they prefer to book. It's more convenient and gives them greater peace of mind. They look at the price of the hotel on its website and compare it to an operator like Booking or Trivago. If there is a discount, they book with the latter, since they also have the option of canceling or paying upon arrival. The easier, the better. They get email confirmation; all they need is the booking reference. Perfect, this way they don't have to print it out, and it will not get left at home.
In the greeting email the hotel gives them the option to install its app. But why should they? Their phone’s storage is already filled with a load of apps that they barely use. But, wait, in addition to the booking details, the app offers recommendations for their trip. It includes information on transportation, shops, and restaurants near the hotel, which is always convenient, and the schedule of activities for the dates they are going. And they can also make a luggage checklist and find out the weather forecast! Perfect, so they download the app.
The long-awaited day arrives. It's a shame the vacation has to start after such a long and tiring journey. And they still have to join the lineup to check in at reception. Oh, wait! They can check in online. Less waiting, fewer lines. So they can relax in the room as soon as they arrive. All they have to do is show their ID and pick up the key. But, maybe not. The hotel’s app lets them identify themselves just by taking a selfie. Is that safe? They're not sure about that...
They check the email, in which the hotel gives a detailed explanation of how it works, stating that biometric technology is completely secure, that their stored data is encrypted, and that this system lets them go directly to their room. What about the key? They can open the door using their phone. Great! Because when they get to reception they see three families waiting in line and they're tired. They feel somewhat relieved and a stealthy satisfaction skipping past the line and going straight to the elevator with their luggage.
Oops! They didn't think about data consumption or the battery. The whole check-in, taking selfies and checking emails has run down their phone’s battery. Thank goodness the hotel has excellent Wi-Fi. There's no need to stand up and move around the room with your arm in the air searching for signal. Plus, the hotel left them a courtesy power bank in the room to use during their stay. So, if they use the app to search for a restaurant, book tickets, or get around the city, they won't have to worry about their low battery.
So far, the trip has been perfect. Now it's time to look for a restaurant. Wait, at these places they get a discount if they book using the hotel’s app...