IN THE FIELD WITH DAVID ESSERYK – PART 12 / Tech as a Brand Differentiator

Connected services bring the competitive edge to savvy hoteliers

David Esseryk, the AccorHotels Group’s Vice President Guest Technology, is in charge of guest-facing technology for all brands. In this edition of his regular report, he explains how, by offering new connected services, hotel groups hope to gain a competitive edge and additional sales.  

Some might view them as simple gadgets, or even money down the drain.  But for AccorHotels, leaving connected services at the threshold of establishments would be, quite to the contrary, a critical strategic mistake. As the so-called in-room technologies conceal a highly effective differentiation strategy for the hotel industry and wonderful opportunities for additional sales, AccorHotels has developed a number of easy-to-use services that are free of charge.

Starting with the partnership with the streaming platform Deezer for music on demand in the bar areas (or lobbies) of hotels. Established for over six months in 450 Ibis hotels worldwide, the service will soon be available in Mercure and Novotel hotels.

leaving connected services at the threshold of establishments would be, quite to the contrary, a critical strategic mistake

In addition, over 1,000 AccorHotels offer the possibility to access 4200 media publications that can be viewed free of charge on the Wi-Fi network of the company; they are available in 60 languages, and with voice option for 16 languages.

But although until now the objective has been to enhance customer experience and ensure loyalty, other solutions under experiment ensure diversification of AccorHotels’ sources of guest satisfaction. That is the objective of My Web Valet, a new digital experience automatically displayed when connected to the hotel’s Wi-Fi, on which information and advertisements about an establishment is published, as well as the paid services offered to customers. The customers can place orders directly from a mobile terminal.

At the same time, Marriott Hotels & Resorts rolled out mobile service requests to 700 hotels – allowing a guest to make any kind of request to the hotel from within the app. Marriott mobile app users report much higher intent to recommend Marriott – a leading indicator of brand preference – and a materially higher satisfaction with their “arrival experience.”

Proofs of concept are an excellent way to validate the viability of new services at lower cost and risk than big-bang releases. Do consumers actually use the new feature? Is it technologically scalable? Can we operationalise it on property with minimal disruption to the hotel?  Hotel groups continuously need to test, evaluate, adjust – and move on if something they try doesn’t provide value or substantially boosts the guest experience.