Hotels have always been customer-oriented, but with an innovative concept being adapted increasingly within the industry, guests are becoming more involved in steering the direction of these hotels towards success.
Hyatt first coined the term “lab hotels” in 2012 which they described as a “full immersion research, prototyping and testing facility” for new concepts with facilities, service, and design. Nine of its hotels worldwide were transformed into this testing ground for in-house initiatives.
One of its most successful experiments was eliminating the front desk, having “hosts” approach guests at the lobby (in some cases, even during pick-ups at the airport) to check them in using an iOS-based app on an iPad that already included credit card swiping and room keycard encoding.
Various other hotels have caught on to the trend, the most recent being Marriott International which turned its Charlotte, North Carolina branch likewise into a testing facility for guest-oriented innovations. The revamped hotel opened just mid-October of this year with the following changes: carpets were replaced with hardwood floors in guest rooms, bathtubs were replaced with showers, guests can now watch shows on Netflix on their in-room television sets, checking in has been made easier with the hotel’s mobile app, and more.
To get faster feedback from customers, Marriott also installed 19 “like” buttons the size of hockey pucks around the hotel’s facilities which guests can press if they’re satisfied with their experience.
Having easier methods of obtaining feedback helps hotel executives get a clearer idea of what guests want and don’t want. In a 2013 interview with the New York Times, Berkita S. Bradford, assistant professor of hospitality and tourism management at St. John’s University, said “in the past, hotels would develop the new idea at headquarters using focus groups and research, and then roll it out. Now, they go right to their guests [for immediate feedback.]”
The need to constantly innovate and boost overall guest satisfaction is stemmed from vacationers preferring to book with Airbnb for accommodations. Hotels are pressured now to step up their game and cater to increasingly demanding and hard-to-please guests. There’s no telling where the industry is headed, but with these “lab hotels” sprouting around, you can tell that it’s not going down without a fight.