Despite the growth in new and emerging technology like artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR), and more, a growing number of consumers are turning to “analog” experiences. People are choosing board games instead of computer games and interacting with the real world instead of the virtual one.
Hotel managers can capitalize on this trend by providing lots of opportunities to disconnect from the digital.
In fact, some are taking the trend toward digital very, very seriously. A recent CNBC report tells of two major Apple investors who are calling on the tech company to “address the growing concern that the iPhone is addictive and that overuse could cause ‘long-term consequences’.”
93 percent of respondents said they feel the value of personal service can’t be replaced
Opportunities for Hands-On Engagement
The Killerspin House is one interesting example, bringing table tennis, an old-fashioned person-to-person game, to a new generation. Employers are signing up for “UnPlug ‘N Play” sessions to encourage employees to get out from behind their desks during the day. Hotels are also capitalizing on the growing interest in analog activities, offering board games and hardcover books for guests to borrow.
In The Future 100: 2018 report, J. Walter Thompson tells of Disney’s planned Star Wars hotel for 2019 at its Hollywood Studios in Orlando. It is billed as the “most experiential concept ever…where a luxury resort meets a multi-day adventure.” Guests will have the opportunity to mix and mingle with Star Wars characters and even drive a spacecraft.
But these types of experiences don’t have to be that extreme to entice and engage guests. Michelle Dinsmore, a founder of Overit, a creative agency in New York, also runs several Airbnb properties and has capitalized on making personal connections with guests:
- She leaves personal notes that are waiting for the guests when they arrive.
- She stocks her properties with local products and artists to give guests a sense of where they are and the history of the area.
- She provides lists of things to do and experience in the area.
- She shares the story behind the properties to make sure they know who their host is.
It’s the kind of personal touch that really resonates, and a great example of how a technology disruptor can meet and mesh with high-touch, personalized experiences. Big brands can readily follow suit.
The Right Combination
Despite the proliferation of apps, technology, and devices, people-to-people, and people-to-real thing (e.g. books, board games) interactions still matter. The savviest hoteliers are finding ways to better serve guests by letting technology improve the customer experience.
In an American Express Travel survey of 1,000 consumers reported in Travel Pulse, researchers found that “93 percent of respondents said they feel the value of personal service can’t be replaced despite digital advances in the travel industry.” Still, travelers report that they do turn to technology for certain tasks—like researching hotel options or booking rooms.
They’re truly looking for that perfect combination of high tech and high touch to make their hotel experiences as rewarding as possible.