For once in my life, I’d like to stay at a hotel where the digital world is a part of the overall experience.
I’ve stayed at my fair share of hotels, but none has ever gotten close to what I, as a frequent business traveler, would expect digitally from a dream hotel.
If I were doing PR for a hotel with a budget to match our mutually shared ambitions, here’s how I’d do it:
1. Complimentary Wifi
Goes without saying these days. How else can I tell my friends about the hotel?
And don’t give me those fucking pieces of papers with 24-hour passwords printed on them.
2. Online Booking
Yes, please. But it should be simple. No fuss. Still, please let me decide if I want my towels hanging or placed on the bed or if I want to have certain stuff in my minibar.
Simply put, let me customize my whole hotel experience.
3. Online Room Service
Let me customize my order online. And don’t complain; as a customer, I’m doing your work for you, just like in an internet bank. And let me earn points for doing this stuff myself!
4. 24/7 Online Concierge
Maybe I’d like to head out for a couple of hours. But what to see? A streaming video call with a hotel tour guide would be excellent. If the tour guide talks to several different guests in various locations at the same time – that’s ok. Maybe some of us get hungry at the same time; maybe we could have lunch together? The tour guide could then set us up.
Oh by the way, should I take a left or right here? What does my GPS position tell you?
5. Online Customer Service
I’ve got some questions about the hotel. Is it ok if I ask these questions on Facebook, Twitter, or maybe on my personal site? Of course, it is. They’re happy that I’m interested in the hotel, and it doesn’t matter where I post my questions; they’re aggregated and answered by the hotel promptly.
And also, around this crowdsourced and ever-evolving Q&A database, a small community arises. And some former guests even helps the hotel with answering questions.
6. Computer in the Room
If a hotel should place one versatile, helpful, and useful item in a hotel room, what would it be? A computer1, of course!
An iMac would do the trick, though. And I would love it if this computer came with a portable pad as well, so I can use the hotel’s online services when I’m in other places of the hotel.
7. Mobile Application
Every decent hotel should have their own mobile application.
The possibilities are endless, especially when it comes to catering to people staying at the hotel regularly. You can pack it with useful services, two-way communications systems, community functions, social gaming, and bonus programs.
8. Complimentary Skype Headsets
The business hotel should consider Skype. The room could have complimentary Skype headsets and Skype Out credits.
It would make international guests happy because this means that the hotel is making it easier for them to connect with their friends and families at home. And this warm feeling will power up their feeling towards the hotel brand, of course.
9. LBS (Location Based Services) Discounts
If I use services like Foursquare, Gowalla, and Facebook Places (even Twitter has this functionality), I think I should be rewarded for telling my friends about the hotel. Or at least acknowledged by being highlighted on the hotel website, so that I at least can earn more followers. It’s a courtesy thing really, something that hotel used to pay close attention to.
The least the hotel could do is just to say thanks, right?
10. Hotel Chat Room
I can’t get the ice machine in the hallway working. Is the gym any good? If I have only two hours in the city after my conference, where do you suggest I go? I do want answers to these questions, but I ‘d rather have the honest opinions of other guests staying at the hotel. Maybe someone wants to share a cab to the airport and save some money as well as the environment?
Let the hotel guests connect easily with each other. If they are complaining amongst each other, make sure you listen in and make sure you act on the feedback. This will be a powerful loyalty tool, I promise.
11. Massive Digital Picture Frames
Instead of traditional art on the walls, set up video picture frames instead and lets me choose art for myself. Or if I’m a business savvy individual, I might want to see the news on one screen and pull up stock quotes on another. Or, maybe the company having a kick-off can arrange for the party images to be streamed to the walls?
Or why not allow for my beloved ones to send me a picture of themselves on the bedside table?
12. User Reviews on the Website
Let’s be brave about this. User reviews are all over the net, and however truthful – they sure give a more honest opinion than a glossy and extremely biased hotel website. Why not let the user reviews in? As well as user-generated pictured? I promise your guests will find these anyway, so please make it easy for them. That’s how you earn trust and reputation, right?
13. Crowd Discounts
If you allow strangers to come together and share their experience by getting better deals, it will strengthen your community. And who knows, maybe your hotel will create friends. Of course, they’ll remember where – and thanks to whom – they met.
14. Video Streaming Services
At some hotels, you can choose from maybe a selection of 25 pay-per-view movies. We as hotel guests aren’t satisfied with this anymore. We want to be able to choose from thousands and thousands of movies, tv-shows, and why not – audio books? There is more than one streaming video service allowing for this today.
15. Spotify Stereo
I might want to listen to some music. Make sure the room has a Spotify premium account ready for use. This gives me access to the music I love, and of course — I will love the hotel for it.
16. Online Service Center
Let me book cinema tickets, cab rides, tours, tables at restaurants online. This is a great way for the hotel to create a portal and the service center could easily merge with the online community functions, the screens in the hotel, on the pads, and so forth.
And oh, please make sure that guests can access the service center via large touch screens in the lobby!