Understanding and anticipating individual guest needs lies at the heart of offering a superior hotel experience. To offer evermore tailored and personalised levels of service, it’s now possible to access an unprecedented amount of customer data via sources such as mobile check-ins, online bookings, loyalty programs and past spending habits. Alongside this array of information, a growing number of hotels are investing in beacon technology to gain insights into personal preferences and market more effectively to guests as they move around the property. So how does beacon technology work, and what specific ways can it be deployed for maximum benefit?
How Does Beacon Technology Work?
Used in combination with a hotel app, strategically placed beacons allow a guest’s movements to be tracked during their stay. As they come within range of a specific beacon, they receive a push notification that commonly includes useful information or an exclusive deal relevant to their location. Back in 2014, Marriott International installed beacons at a select number of properties as part of its LocalPerks push-messaging program — which has since been rolled out to 500 hotels. When guests download the relevant Marriott App, they need to activate the Location Services and Bluetooth on their smartphone. Once opted-in, Marriott can then push basic details about hotel amenities along with special location-based offers. This all obviously requires that individuals are happy to give up a certain level of privacy and personal information, which means hotels must clearly explain how being tracked during their stay can enhance their whole experience. With that in mind, here are just some of the ways beacons can be deployed to deliver a host of diverse benefits.
1. Streamlined Check-in
Rather than queuing at the front desk, beacons allow guests quick and easy access to their rooms. As they walk into the hotel lobby, a beacon can send a push notification that automatically brings up the reservation, enabling them to digitally check in without delay. Not only does this speed up things for customers, it reduces the time staff need to spend dealing with lengthy queues. Going further, a welcome message on arrival could offer a discount off a room upgrade or a meal at the hotel restaurant for that evening.
2. Understanding Guest Behavior
By tracking where guests spend their time around the property, beacon technology is able to deliver a wealth of insightful data. For instance, a person might split the majority of their time between the spa, pool and fitness centre. This would imply that they value health, well-being and relaxation. Using this kind of broad data, future marketing could be personalised to include the type of deals that would be most likely to appeal. In this case, a 20% discount off a luxury spa treatment or a free VIP fitness session could act as a tempting booking incentive.
3. Enhanced In-room Services
When a beacon detects a guest has entered their room, it can also act as a trigger to automatically turn on in-room features such as the lights and air conditioning. If it then detected a guest is in their room later in the evening, a message might be sent to their smartphone to remind them about the in-room dining options. Using the hotel app, a person could then browse the menu, pick a favourite dish and place their order — all without having to move from the comfort of their bed.
By knowing a guest’s location, relevant and timely offers can be sent that take advantage of likely buying intent and heightened states of receptiveness. Needless to say, this is a far more effective approach than sending generic offers in the hope of piquing a person’s interest. For instance, a 2-for -1 meal deal could be sent to a guest’s phone as they approach the menu board at the hotel restaurant. Specific preferences (accessed via loyalty membership data or previous hotel app interactions) can then be used to help personalise these deals by recommending dishes or drinks that someone is most likely to be tempted by.
5. Promote Special Events and Tours
An increasing number of travellers head on holiday intent on exploring the destination and local neighbourhood. So when guests arrive at your property, you could send them a push notification with a helpful notice such as, “Ask about our local sightseeing trips and exclusive guided tours.” By positioning beacons around public notice boards in your lobby or social spaces, this same approach can be used to promote any special events your hotel might be hosting with exclusive discounts for early sign-ups.
6. Helping Guests To Navigate
From a practical perspective, beacons can be incredibly useful to help with navigation around a hotel — especially for larger properties. Instead of having to ask staff for directions, mobile users can simply use their installed hotel app to navigate to their room and other geo-fenced areas such as the spa, restaurant, pool or fitness centre. In addition, beacons can be utilised to create interactive tours, highlighting noteworthy attractions or points of interest to guests as they stroll around the resort.
Making the Most of Beacon Technology
If you’re considering installing beacon technology at your property, look at the areas guests are most likely to require information on/or make a purchasing decision. When you understand when and where they’re most receptive, you can provide valuable assistance and push relevant marketing messages that influence decision-making. Ultimately, beacon technology has the potential to enhance the entire hotel experience. By gaining unique customer insights, you can personalise your service to meet guest preferences and needs in real-time. In turn, this can help maximise upsell opportunities and increase the average spend of each guest during their stay with you.