For a long time, airlines received recognition as the drivers of innovation in the travel industry. In more recent years, online travel companies and their digital tools have taken over as the primary driving force. Now, the global hospitality industry is pushing travel forward as it rethinks technology, customer experience, and design. As travel increases around the world, customers are turning to online booking tools to make reservations, a phenomenon that has pushed hotels and resorts to completely redesign and retool themselves to meet the needs of their guests.
Self-service and mobile technologies have fundamentally shifted the ways in which customers and companies relate and interact. The hospitality industry now leads the charge in meeting customers where they are, by changing everything from the way we check in to a hotel to the entertainment available in the lobby.
Starwood Hotels, for example, has begun to offer mobile keyless entry into rooms, thereby eliminating the need to issue key cards and preventing people from locking themselves out of the room, provided they remember their smartphone. Additionally, Starwood has offered flash deals to customers who connect using mobile technology.
Similarly, Marriott International introduced PlusPoints, which encourages customers to connect with the brand via social media. In addition, PlusPoints allows customers to engage LocalPerks. By having the Marriott app open, customers can ping geo-located beacons around hotels for special deals. PlusPoints is also connected to a FlashPerks program that allows customers to turn reward points into digital currency to purchase special experiences, such as a Porsche test drive.