The future of hospitality revolves around hotels assuming the role of digital connectivity platforms to personalize the guest experience based on individual guest profiles. This is the beginning of what that will eventually look like.
When travelers book a room online at the new Hotel Schani in Vienna, they book the actual room they’ll be staying in, just like people do when they book flights and their specific seats.
Guests can choose high or low floors, close proximity to the elevators, their preferred bed configuration, and room category depending on size and view: Smart Street, Smart Garden or Smart Maisonette (two-level suite).
Because they will know their room number on arrival, guests can bypass registration and walk directly to their guest room to open the keyless door with the Hotel Schani app.
This also helps the hotel personalize the room upon request more easily because the staff has more advanced notice of where everyone is staying.
Open since April, the 135-room Schani was developed in partnership with the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering’s FutureHotel initiative at University of Stuttgart. (See our previous story on Fraunhofer.)
The goal was to create the most streamlined hotel user experience as possible — with the most opportunity for end-to-end, on-demand personalization as possible — all of which can be commanded via mobile.
Everything is still is beta right now, but future guests will eventually be able to choose different amenities they want delivered to their guest room pre-arrival or during their stay. All of this is in the interest of customizing the guest stay and building a relationship with the brand.
“The use of these innovative technologies gives Schani staff more time to focus on our guests’ individual needs, so they can take over concierge duties that would only be expected at luxury establishments,” says Anita Komarek, marketing manager at Hotel Schani.
The Schani app provides the full array of destination content provided by Stadtbekannt.at, which promotes itself as “a modern, innovative internet platform that is aimed at a young, web audience.” Presently, the content is only in German.
Hotel As Connectivity Platform
The next phase behind developing “The Smart Hotel for the Modern Traveler” includes a dedicated coworking space in the lobby rentable for both guests and locals, connected to private, on-demand meeting and event spaces.
Local members and paying guests can create a user profile with both professional and personal information in Schani’s online Coworking Marketplace, which people can use to connect with each other.
This is a similar setup to San Francisco’s Workshop Cafe that we profiled last week.
“The marketplace app should give existing coworkers and individuals a chance to network with like-minded people and start partnerships,” says Komarek. “The coworking space is intended for both locals and hotel guests as an interface for local and global collaboration, so we want to facilitate networking and offer regular events for community building.”
As an example of that, Hotel Schani hosted the finals of the Central European Startup Awards last night, bringing together over 70 national winners in categories ranging from Best Coworking Space to Most Influential Women in Tech.
When’s the last time you saw a hotel in America do that?
There hasn’t been a whole lot to get excited about in the hospitality sector over the last year in terms of what’s new and next. Today, modern design is becoming a commodity. Local, artisanal food and craft beer are common. Millennials now make up the majority of the workforce, so their expectations are becoming the norm. Keyless entry and mobile booking are standard across numerous hotel brands, or soon will be.
That’s why Hotel Schani could evolve into somewhat of a watershed moment in next generation hotel programming.
One way forward for hotels to differentiate their value proposition is by evolving into a digital connectivity platform to help guests meet other like-minded guests, thought leaders, cultural influencers and various companies in the destination aligned with their personal preferences.
By developing a platform for customers to create opt-in personal profiles, a hotel like Schani can build a sophisticated inventory of consumer data to better deliver customized travel experiences.
Presently, hotels are developing their own databases of personal guest preferences, but the future hotel offers a way for guests to supply their information themselves, above and beyond the shallow loyalty program profile. Eventually, hotels will have access to much more indepth data offering more linkages to identify similar interests between people and brands.
That’s where this is going.
“We do not use our guests’ profile information as of now, but we are thinking about such solutions in the future,” Komarek says.
It’s just a matter of time before large hotel brands start taking advantage of the coworking megatrend to create the next generation of hybrid virtual/live lobby socializing.
Brands like Marriott and Starwood, with all of their investments in “innovation labs,” have tested out different technology scenarios to accomplish this, but none of them have stuck or scaled to any degree.
It just might be this family-run Austrian hotel that establishes the blueprint, based on the social traditions of the classic Viennese Cafe where writers, artists, philosophers and political figures once debated the issues of the day.
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Photo credit: The integrated lobby, dining area and coworking space at Hotel Schani. Hotel Schani