In part one of the fictional “Fiona Scully’s Digital Dream: A Stay at The Hanson Hotel,” we explore the possibilities of a tech-enhanced hotel experience through Fiona’s eyes, from her initial frustration with outdated check-in processes to her imaginative envisioning of a seamless, digitalized future. This narrative illustrates Fiona’s personal experience and reflects a growing trend among travellers seeking efficient, personalized services.
The Uber driver pulled up to the entrance of The Hanson Hotel. A seasoned corporate traveller, Fiona Scully seamlessly paid for her ride and stepped out of the car. Feeling tired and jetlagged after a delayed flight from Sydney to Los Angeles, Fiona’s head and shoulders dropped as she saw the long line of other new arrivals wanting to check-in.
After ten minutes of waiting in the queue, Fiona, looking at her phone, thought, if only I could use this to check in and get to my room. Why did I book a hotel with old technology? Suddenly, she was disturbed by a visibly irritated man, suitcase in tow, bumping into her, nearly knocking her phone to the ground. Muttering a hasty apology, he hurried past, leaving Fiona to regain her balance and composure. This unpleasant encounter and fatigue made her long for a more efficient check-in process.
As the line inched forward, Fiona’s eyes felt heavy, the lobby noise around her faded away, and her mind began to wander. She dreamed of a different pre-arrival and check-in experience that could have been smoother with modern technology.
Technology and personalisation
Before arrival, the pre-check-in experience on her mobile device had been user-friendly and straightforward. Following the prompts, she provided her personal information and in-room preferences, such as temperature and ambient lighting, before finally selecting her preferred room. All with the swipe of a finger across the screen of her phone during her flight. Without realising it, even before she landed, The Hanson Hotel had crafted an environment tailored just for her.
On arrival, Fiona entered the lobby and approached illuminated, interactive displays, allowing her to check herself in. As soon as she entered her name, she was recognised immediately. “Welcome, Ms. Scully,” the kiosk greeted as if the hotel had eagerly awaited her arrival.
Because Fiona invested a few minutes during the flight to provide her personal details and room preferences via the hotel’s online booking platform, the check-in process was efficient and straightforward. She had a brief conversation with an AI, which recognised her instantly. Upon confirming her identity, her smartphone chimed with her room number and a digital key. Fiona was on her way, marvelling at the ease, the silent efficiency of technology and hospitality, presenting a personalised welcome experience.
Dreams to frustration
Fiona’s dreamy contemplation of a more efficient, tech-driven check-in was abruptly interrupted again by another frustrated guest. A woman behind her, agitated by the slow-moving line, loudly voiced her displeasure to anyone within earshot. This sharp dose of reality snapped Fiona back from her thoughts. She felt a deep sense of irony as she stood there, pulled back into the analogue present, contrasting starkly with her streamlined digital future.
Fatigue quickly set back in as she edged closer to the front desk, and Fiona’s mind began to wander again, imagining a world where technology and hospitality merged seamlessly, ending the tedious waits and transforming her experience.
Arriving at her room, Fiona used her phone to open the door. As she entered, she noticed the walls glowed in the soft hue of her chosen colour, her favourite ambient playlist softly playing in the background. “How did they know?” she mused, remembering the preferences questionnaire she’d breezed through during her online pre-arrival experience.
As a seasoned traveller, one of her rituals is to fall onto the bed to test its comfort. She immediately felt a cocoon of comfort—shifting subtly beneath her. Feeling relieved, Fiona knew that her first few nights of jetlag would be cared for by the thoughtfully procured mattress and linen promising rest in what felt like an experience tailored only for her.
For one of the very times over her career of travelling, Fiona was elated by the fact that technology, in this instance, was not an intruder but a concierge of convenience. She ordered a small meal from room service with a few light taps on her phone. Fiona again thought that The Hanson Hotel had embraced what hotels should do—adopting innovative technologies that felt less like cold machinery and more like intuitive companions.
Fiona’s entire stay was a consistent experience of thoughtful, seamless interactions. She communicated with the housekeeping staff through her phone, setting schedules for room cleaning that worked around her unpredictable times and even set maintenance a task to replace a blown light bulb in the bathroom while she was out.
When it came time to leave, check-out was as effortless as her arrival and stay. With a simple swipe on her phone, her account was paid—no waiting at the desk to check out. As Fiona exited The Hanson Hotel, her phone buzzed with a survey asking her to rate her stay. She paused, reflecting on the personalisation she received, how the hotel had anticipated her needs and the invisible web of technology that had made her stay enjoyable and memorable.
Suddenly, Fiona was jolted back to reality after hearing a very unwelcoming “Next Please” shriek from the front desk agent, who looked strained and stressed, trying to process the arriving guests as fast as possible. Frustrated, disgruntled and now wondering what the remainder of her stay would be like, Fiona asked herself, when will hotels finally catch up with technology and make this process easy for people?
The story of Fiona Scully’s dream-like stay at The Hanson Hotel isn’t just a chapter in her travelling career; she is a growing demographic of traveller who embraces technology. It is a glimpse into a world where hospitality and technology meet head-on, creating experiences where every guest is the protagonist of their own travelling experience – determining for themselves how much or how little technology will be a part of their travelling experience.
This vision is not far-fetched, with existing and emerging technologies paving the way for such seamless experiences. The possibilities are endless, from self-check-ins that eliminate the need to wait at front desks to “smart” technology in each room and even learning from and taking ideas from other industries and verticals, such as Alternative Accommodation Providers.
Old vs. New Hospitality: The old ways of managing guests’ expectations with legacy systems are detrimental to the hotel’s reputation.
Importance of Personalization: Personalized settings and services, like room preferences, enhance hotel guest satisfaction.
Efficiency and Convenience: Automated technological features in hotels provide time-saving and hassle-free guest experiences.
Technology’s Role: Technology dramatically improves the hospitality experience, offering streamlined and personalized services.
Check-in next week for part II
In Part II of this article, we will explore these technologies in detail, examining how they are currently being used and how they might evolve to revolutionise further the guest experience in hotels like The Hanson Hotel.