In case you haven’t noticed, there’s this great new piece of technology gaining massive acceptance, generically called the Tablet PC. Your guests will be arriving with them. Your competitors will be finding ways to use them. So what are you doing about it?
If you’re not convinced that this new technology is important, consider this: Apple, the world’s leading tablet computer manufacturer, shipped over 10 million iPads in Q2 2011 alone, nearly quadruple the amount of laptops (MacBooks) they sold in the same period. On an industry scale, sales of tablets are up about 400% year-over-year, while sales of notebook PCs have basically plateaued. This adoption rate is faster than just about any new technology to hit the marketplace in recent history, including the DVD player, PC, or smart phone.
The first question to ask yourself is whether or not your hotel is tablet friendly. Have you checked your website on a tablet to see how it looks? Can customers book from a tablet as easily as they can on a computer? Most tablets will only have two plugs – one to connect to a computer or power source and another for headphones. Without an Ethernet port, you better have WiFi available for your tablet guests and ideally, at no additional cost. Excuse the pun, but hardwired internet just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Once a guest arrives, there are many other interactions where tablets can make a strong impression. Rather than having your concierge show someone a paper brochure for an amenity or activity, why not present it to them on a tablet? It will impress your guests and allow you to show them a variety of material without interruption; introducing and enticing them to use more of your services.
At your restaurant, try showcasing your wine list with an app for users to browse by type, price and vintage. You’ll save big on reprints. Many wine list apps today can integrate with your inventory to only show those that are presently available, as well as ideal food pairings. You might even consider using tablets to replace the paper menu all together!
At check-in, consider having a tablet available so that your front desk staff can use them to up-sell rooms. It is easy to create simple presentations on features and benefits in a quick slideshow of illustrious photography.
What about behind the scenes? Think about how your staff members can keep track of guest requirements. Integrating a tablet app with your property PMS can go a long way to help reduce the waste associated with daily room printouts as well as speed up internal communication. Applications such as the dashboard system I have developed, Inn at a Glance, are designed to work seamlessly in a tablet configuration for this purpose.
These are just some of the ways that tablets can integrate into your hotel’s operation. Mind you, it’s not an overnight adjustment because there is the fixed cost of purchasing each unit and there are some security issues (never mind that you might have to install WiFi throughout your hotel). However, with their exponential adoption rate, you’ll need to be tablet-compatible and tablet-chic if you want to attract the younger tech-savvy crowd. Best get with the program before it’s too late!
(Article by Larry Mogelonsky, published on eHotelier.com on September 27, 2011)