The digital human touch: how technology is bringing greater personalization to luxury hotels

From crowdsourced travel guides to accommodation-sharing platforms, technology has transformed hospitality — and the luxury hotel industry is no exception. High-end hospitality brands are connecting with a new generation of tech-savvy guests through artificial intelligence, voice-activated speakers, robot butlers and other gizmos and gadgets. And while some may think technology means impersonal service, these hotels are proving that tech can offer guests greater convenience, customization and personalization.

5 ways luxury hotels use tech to personalize the guest experience


1. Marriott introduces resorts in augmented reality

With augmented reality (AR), hotels can offer guests an immersive experience even before they arrive. Marriott Caribbean & Latin America Resorts have launched an app that lets users explore Marriott properties from the palm of their hand. Called Portal to Paradise, the iOS app invites potential travelers to take a virtual stroll through each property. Along the way, guests can check out 360-degree views of pools, restaurants, beaches, spas, rooms and more.

2. Alexa for Hospitality brings voice assistant tech to hotels

Siri, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa — many consumers already rely on these voice assistants to make everyday tasks easier, so why not bring them to hotels? Alexa for Hospitality is a program developed by Amazon for the needs of hotel guests. Marriott International, the first hospitality company to partner with Amazon’s new initiative, is introducing the voice assistant technology at select properties in summer 2018. With the Amazon Echo smart speaker installed in rooms, guests will be able to get hotel information, request services and control room settings all by asking Alexa. What’s more, travelers may soon be able to connect their own Amazon account to the in-room Echo, giving quick access to personal music and audiobook collections.

3. Hotels hire robot butlers to serve and entertain guests

In the last few years, hotels have experimented with the use of robot butlers. Forgot your toothpaste? Starwood’s Botlr can take care of room service requests quickly and discreetly. Need some information? Guests at Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas, can now meet and greet “Pepper,” a humanoid robot that works in the lobby as the hotel’s Technical Ambassador. Visitors can ask Pepper questions or just get the robot to pose for a selfie — Pepper can also dance or tell stories, and is able to detect a guest’s approximate age, gender and mood.

4. Four Seasons offers guests instant service through private chat

While many hotel brands have introduced chat bots to answer customer requests, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has taken a different approach. Through Four Seasons Chat, the luxury hospitality company has combined the convenience of instant messaging with the personalization of a human concierge. Guests can message Four Seasons staff before, during and after their stay using Facebook Messenger, WeChat, SMS or the Four Seasons App. The 24/7 service allows for speedy response times (minutes, if not seconds), and also enables staff to translate messages into more than 100 languages.

5. Dorchester Collection uses big data to identify problems (and fix them)

Big data and analytics offer hotels a powerful tool for digging deeper and understanding guest behavior. Ana Brant, Director of Global Guest Experience and Innovation at Dorchester Collection, has described how the luxury hotel company discovered how to improve customer loyalty by studying data from online reviews and social media. In this case, the company learned that luxury travelers often saw five-star hotels in Paris as interchangeable. Dorchester Collection then relied on staff insights to differentiate their own properties, highlighting the haute couture heritage of Plaza Athénée and the artistic identity of Le Meurice.

These are just some of the ways technology is transforming the luxury hospitality industry. We discussed this topic during our Glion Luxury Conference in Geneva, on 20 September 2018: learn more about how technology can drive richer, more personalised experiences by following the conversation on our social media channels.

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