This is the technology guests want the most

New research highlights that guest smartphones now are recognized as an essential tool for delivering and improving their travel experience. Photo credit: Criton

Mobile has become so embedded in everyday life that hotels are finding they need to embrace a mobile-first approach. Guests’ dependence on mobile phones while traveling shows that this technology is a powerful tool for increasing for guest satisfaction and loyalty. 

Research commissioned by Scotland-based hospitality firm Criton of more than 3,600 travelers highlights that loyalty programs, self-check-in/out and accessing a hotel room via a digital door key are primary requirements of today's guests.

Loyalty programs are important to more than half of respondents (53 percent) while self check-in is important to 35 percent. Eighteen percent find an in-room tablet is important while 10 percent find in-room mobile as most important. 

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The findings highlight that guest smartphones now are recognized as an essential tool for delivering and improving their travel experience. With 45 percent of respondents traveling for leisure more than four times a year, the survey showed that 62 percent of respondents regularly use an accommodation app, with the figure increasing to 67 percent among business travelers.

“Increasingly, today's travelers are downloading apps that help them get around and stay connected with their hotel,” Criton founder/CEO Julie Grieve said in a statement. “That level of tech awareness or even dependency also raises expectations for information, guest services such as check-in, digital key and offers and incentives to reward their loyalty.”

If their favorite hotel was to have its own app, 74 percent of respondents overwhelmingly stated they would use this digital channel, with only 10 percent favoring an in-room device such as a hotel's smartphone or tablet. This reinforces Criton's core belief that the future of hotel technology is guests' own devices, the company reports. Hoteliers no longer need to absorb the cost of installing in-room devices when their guests travel with their own smartphone and are more comfortable with the apps and content within it.

The opportunity to check in via an app and access their hotel room via a digital door key was warmly received with 58 percent likely or very likely to want this technology. With 68 percent finding it unacceptable to wait in line at reception for longer than five minutes, offering guests access to a service that global chains already offer is fast becoming a core priority for independent operators.

Respondents prioritized loyalty programs as their favored element of hotel technology with 53 percent recognizing it as their top requirement. In a competitive landscape, the opportunity to drive direct and repeat bookings through a personalized loyalty program will ensure hoteliers save on online travel agent commissions while creating their own closed marketing group to upsell onsite services and facilities, according to Criton.

Key findings:

  • 39 percent use TripAdvisor as their main source of research and inspiration before booking a hotel, followed by 29 percent of respondents relying on online search
  • 40 percent of travelers said they regularly stay in a boutique hotel, with 6 percent in a luxury hotel. The majority (47 percent) stated they regularly stay in a midrange hotel.
  • 53 percent have at least one hotel app on their phone.
  • 74 percent would use a hotel app if their favorite hotel had one.
  • 55 percent stated it is acceptable to wait at check-in between two and five minutes.
  • 62 percent would be likely or very likely to check in to a hotel via an app.
  • 58 percent would be likely or very likely to check in to a hotel via an app and use digital key.

App usage:

  • 62 percent use an accommodation app such as Airbnb regularly.
  • 57 percent use a transportation app regularly.
  • 47 percent use an airline app regularly.
  • 36 percent use a hotel app regularly.

“Respondents to the survey were people who travel regularly, with the majority opting for a midrange hotel or accommodation,” Grieve said. “It is increasingly clear that adopting technology has to be seen as an imperative for all hospitality providers; it is not something purely for the major franchises.”

The results are from an online survey that ran from March 26 to April 1 and received a total of 3,654 responses.