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Reprinted from Lodging Magazine
North Palm Beach, Fla.–Digital transformations and a desire for personalized experiences are setting the stage for a new era of travel. Driftwood Hospitality Management (DHM), a North Palm Beach-based hotel management company, recently surveyed its general managers across 48 operated hotels in the United States and Costa Rica to understand what trends they’re seeing at their hotels and to gather insights into the evolving needs of today’s travelers.
“The hospitality industry strives to keep pace with trends, to bring travelers what they crave—personalized and meaningful interactions,” Michael Diaz, chief operating officer for DHM, explains. “The trends we are seeing at our properties today reflect the importance of connectivity and authenticity throughout the travel experience.”
Three Hospitality Trends that DHM’s General Managers Are Seeing
1. Digital Concierge
Gone are the days of calling the front desk or even going to the concierge with a request. John Marko Jr., general manager at the Hampton Inn by Hilton Chicago Downtown, shared that his team is embracing new technologies such as a text-based message service where guests can communicate in real-time with the front desk via their smartphones. Hotel frontline teams across the nation are using these sorts of programs to fulfill housekeeping requests, valet, dinner reservation requests, and more.
“When implementing new technology, it is important for the staff to go through proper training so that they can understand the benefit to the guest and themselves,” Marko Jr. explains. “Making a change may come easier to some than others, but as we’ve seen at our property, once the team is excited, that is contagious and really does carry over to guests. We are also focused on the message that while advancing our technology is important, nothing will ever replace great customer service with a personal touch.”
2. Smart Rooms
As travelers implement smart home tech to automate and simplify their living spaces, they will begin requesting high-tech amenities that go beyond WiFi access during their travels. David Truesdale, general manager at Hilton Durham, shared that in the near future, his property will be introducing the Hilton Connected Room, a high-tech guestroom that enables travelers to personalize and control every aspect of their stay from one central point—their mobile devices. Currently, Hilton Honors members have access to digital key in select properties so that they can bypass the front desk completely upon check-in. Truesdale has seen an uptick in this throughout the first quarter.
3. Local Experiences
Travelers want authentic experiences that allow them to live like locals. And with events like the Festival of Colors in Spanish Fork, Utah bringing in an estimated 70,000 travelers over two days, properties such as the Sheraton Salt Lake City are looking to provide just that. Marriott International invested in PlacePass, a travel technology solutions provider offering travelers a leading online meta-search platform for in-destination experiences. Properties can now leverage PlacePass to offer guests memorable experiences when they travel, allowing them to choose from 100,000 plus authentic local experiences in 800 destinations worldwide.
“Whether guests are here on business or pleasure, they want to maximize their time away from home and return to their friends and family with a story to tell,” Jason Ford, general manager or the Sheraton Salt Lake City Hotel, says. “As a result, they are seeking truly local experiences–from hot air balloon races to a trip to the world-renown Bonneville Salt Flats–and we are not only obligated but also delighted to respond to these requests both in-person and with the latest technology.”