Traditional hotels are exclusive spaces, as much about who is allowed in as who is kept out, offering a specific form of sanctuary from the outside world. New Generation hotels have been leading the way in recognizing that technology-enabled guests value independence and equality, and more slippage between the street and the lobby reflects the slippage between work and leisure for digitally connected travellers. The open lobby format is an inclusive, democratic space for guests to partake in work or leisure when and how they decide, and this is at the heart of the ethos of guest journey design.
Why Use an App as a Design Tool
According to a Google study, Business travellers are extremely comfortable with app use for travel and 78% of leisure travellers have downloaded and used at least one travel app. And of course, for travellers on the go, the smartphone is the primary device for research and location assistance. A well-designed hotel app can fill in some of the gaps for these travellers and build loyalty, through integration with maps programs as well as local businesses and attractions.
A custom Hotel app can also take advantage of new hotel design; opening up the lobby further and providing a personalized feel to the guest journey. For example, guests can check-in via the app and receive a unique and secure mobile key on their phone, allowing them to take themselves to their room when they choose to. Once inside their room, guests can use the app to control the lights and temperature, order room service, movies, or a taxi for a night out.
Liberate Guests and Staff from Front Desk Hegemony
“What works good is better than what looks good, because what works good lasts" – Ray Eames
The eradication of the front desk liberates the concierge to freely circulate amongst the guests in the lobby, and simultaneously frees guests from forming queues to receive information. A mobile concierge can be reactive, offering advice on events or local papers, informing guests on the use of workstations or offering snacks and beverages. The guest in turn, is free to take their time lounging or working, as they like.
Trust and Independence Integrated into Guest Journey
Smartphone owners rely heavily on their devices for work and socializing, and this has created a feeling of trust and security. A hotel app that designs an integrated, frictionless guest experience from research to checkout can become a reliable part of the smartphone owners’ repertoire.
And because of Smartphone owners’ reliance and loyalty to their devices, they more favourably view apps that facilitate seamless transactions and ease of use. Good hotel service and design can be delivered through the smartphone as invisibly as it can through old-fashioned luxury experiences, while maintaining and fostering the guest values of independence and connectedness.