Anticipate Guest Charging Needs to Help Deliver a Frictionless Guest Experience

| February 17, 2017

Today’s smartphone is a magic wand of sorts. Consumers can use it to instantly connect themselves to another person who could be on the other side of the room or across the globe. They use it to change TV channels, control room temperature, purchase items, split a restaurant bill among friends plus assign a tip and pay using one of several mobile wallets stored in that device. Consumers can book travel, select an airline seat, reserve a hotel room, order room service, buy theatre tickets, upgrade their room, arrange for transportation, check their loyalty status, take and post selfies, and write a great service review all while floating on a raft in the middle of the pool. They can even unlock their room door by just placing the mobile device in proximity to the lock.
 
However, Kube Systems knows that there is one simple thing that can stifle the magic of today’s mobile technology: A dead battery. When the power is gone, the magic can’t happen. But charging the device isn’t as easy as one may think. If a guest is sitting at the pool bar or in lobby lounge waiting for their room to be ready, chances are high that there won’t be an available outlet nearby. Assuming the guest remembered to bring his charging cable – which often isn’t the case – he can prop himself up against a wall in an adjacent corridor or ask a bartender if there is an available plug behind the bar, but neither scenario is comfortable nor ideal.
 
Powering up in the guestroom can be equally challenging. A female guest arrives in her room eager to charge her phone, tablet and laptop. No outlets appear to be available. After wrestling to move the heavy king-sized mattress away from the headboard, she is forced to make a choice: unplug the alarm clock and risk missing her morning meeting or unplug the light. Again, neither choice is ideal, and only one of the guest’s three devices that need charging can be accommodated.
 
Hoteliers can invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in mobile apps, location-based marketing services, and in-room automation enhancements, but if the guest’s mobile device is dead, so is the experience. If the battery is dead on a guest’s mobile device (especially the smartphone), none of the digital services being offered by the hotel to drive engagement can be realized. All that money invested in mobile apps and widgets to drive relevant content and enhance the guest experience is wasted if the guest can’t conveniently plug in and power up as needed.
 
Friction in Guestrooms
Opinions vary on how to accommodate guests’ charging needs. Some brand standards call for a set number of AC outlets in the room. Others have AC outlets combined with USB Ports, and some have table top charging station requirements. Unfortunately, many table top devices (and of course the outlets) still don’t have the necessary charging connectors built-in. Unless 100% of guests remember to bring their charging cables 100% of the time, adding supplemental devices is moot.
 
If you’re a limited-service hotel, making guests bring their own cables might be okay; but if you’re a full-service provider, not so much. The very nature of the term suggests that every guest need will be met. Kudos to the hoteliers who have come to this realization and provide a solution that corresponds to their brand promise. They understand that it’s not enough to just offer a place to plug in; it means investing in a solution that is equipped with built-in charging cables so the guest is not forced to remember them. That is the definition of service in the context of in-room charging.
 
Yes, most hoteliers know they need to offer convenient mobile device charging; after all, as travelers themselves most hoteliers have probably found themselves in a charging predicament at one time or another. However, it is still amazing how many hotels worldwide still offer the old Apple 30-pin connector with no plans of upgrading to the more current Apple Lightning connector or the Micro USB connector that is used by the entire Android universe. Apple may be the single most popular smartphone model, but the aggregate of all other Android devices makes up 86.6% of the smartphone market (IDC, Q3 16’).
 
Friction in Public Spaces
Public spaces are generally worse off in terms of providing a charging infrastructure for guests. Most of a property’s post check-in revenue is made in the restaurant and bar. According to Smith Travel Research (STR) analytics, full-service hotels with large food-and-beverage outlets can have as much as 50% of total revenue come from those operations (30% is average). Obviously, a hotel should want to encourage guests to stay in those areas as much as possible. Research shows that if dining venues provided charging, users would stay longer and spend more. So why then would hotels knowingly not accommodate that need and risk losing revenue?
 
To reduce friction in the guest experience, stop making guests pull furniture away from a wall to reveal an outlet or ask a hotel staff member to use an outlet. If the hotel is power-strapped in its public spaces, fix it. The post check-in revenue hotels might lose is far greater than adding a power source. And if a hotel is investing big bucks in Beacon technology (via Bluetooth low energy) so it know where guests are at any moment to communicate by text and push special promotions, then it should make sure the devices it is communicating with are charged.

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