The Good, Bad, and Ugly of So-Called “Connected” Hotels

Being Hyper-connected, today’s consumers are ever more being pandered to by businesses intent on converting what Altimater Group’s Brian Solis called “Generation C” – basically the aggregate of all generations holding smart devices. Nowhere is the new marketing funnel more focused now than at selling  the guest experience to this wired bunch of customers. Here’s a look at a few engagements, with varying degrees of hyperactive hipness and hyperbole.

The Pullman on Mobile landing

The Pullman on Mobile landing

Pullman Hotels and Resorts

This Accor group of hotels just revamped their website in order to better engage their connected customers across the aesthetics and usability landscape.  SVP Global Marketing, Pullman, Xavier Louyot told Eye for Travel:

“The new Pullman Hotels website has been set up with the evolving lifestyle of tech-savvy customers in mind. Pullman focused on the aspirations of its ’hyper-connected, mobile, multi-cultural’ travellers who believe that just because they are travelling for business doesn’t mean they shouldn’t enjoy themselves. And just because they are travelling for leisure doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be connected.”

Did they really? Not really, this could be hype.

Here’s how I rate Pullman; Website 7 of 10 (usability and aesthetics good), Apps 6 of 10 (same old Accor app), Social Media 3 of 10 (presence scattered and negligible). The mobile contingent of this chain is really a redirect to the old Accor presence, there is no congruent Twitter, Facebook, or even G+ engagement of any significance, and any unity across the social channels is simply chance. Accor still thinks social media and connected customers are BS.

Screenshot of what Wyndham finds compelling

Screenshot of what Wyndham finds compelling

Wyndham Exchange & Rentals

Another sub-chain professing big time user experience knowhow (UX) Wyndham’s got a lot to say about cutting edge guest engagement, but is there really any meat to the matter? If the website at the end of this link is any indication, we might as well be listening to radio broadcast. Stan Kreydin, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology officer for Wyndham Exchange & Rentals professes before Eye for Travel that “Creating an unambiguous cross-channel experience is of paramount importance.” 

Wyndham Worldwide has almost 25,000 likes on Facebook and published a wall post over a week ago. Wyndham Vacation Rentals is one of the company’s myriad Twitter encampments, but a broadcast post a day or so does not cutting edge UX make.

Did they really? Nope, Wyndham is all talk. Their only saving grace is resident in their so called Dream Hotels contingent.

Here’s how I rate Wyndham; Website 6 of 10 (usability and aesthetics okay), Apps 4 of 10 (A simple booking app), Social Media 3 of 10 (presence scattered and negligible). Twitter, Facebook, and other scattered presences give no clue to a significant guest engagement.

My screen looking at Hyatt's message - as it turns out, a true one

My screen looking at Hyatt’s message – as it turns out, a true one

Hyatt Hotels

For every dog among really engaged and progressive business out there, at least one in three pops up a champion where excellent initiative goes  . A chain I once criticized as being part of a sort of cartel of old fogies bent on suppressing free OTA moves, Hyatt is now perhaps the world’s most connected and tuned in hospitality group. Interestingly, when I first learned of this, my enthusiastic review of their social progress was so sales sounding, David Silverberg, the editor at Digital Journal actually went so far as to remove the honest review from that media outlet. (eat your heart out on the SKIFT one below @digitaljournal)

Incensed as I was excellence being so suppressed, I don’t blame any editor for disbelief where brands go now. For Hyatt though, every move they make lately sounds like “guest experience” – and their profits speak very loud too. Not only does Hyatt get more guests via connectivity, they actually got to raise prices for services rendered. This is a short eval session here, but bravo to Hyatt for dancing to a new tune. Don’t take my word for it, here’s the Skift Take on Hyatt.

SKIFT TAKE

Hyatt has optimized its revenue and occupancy levels as well as excelled on social media over the past year leading to the profitable Q3 jump.

— Samantha Shankman

Did they really? You betcha they do. If developing a fantastic guest experience everywhere were the Super Bowl, Hyatt would have won 56 – 0 over all other hotel chains. And get this, I hate corporations.

Here’s how I rate Wyndham; Website 7 of 10 (it’s not WIHP Convert but its nice), Apps 6 of 10 (better than the average hotel app), Social Media 8 of 10 (tweet their concierge and see). Twitter, Facebook, and their other social engagements connect directly to key personnel and not some hired intern who makes $10 an hour. As a note here, the last time I asked for a quote for a story via Twitter, the head of Hyatt communications director Amy Patti contacted me directly within minutes of my connecting with their social managers. Not even the most connected PR giants I know from Michael Kempner to Melissa Waggener are so fast.

My Dad always used to say, give even the Devil his due.

That’s all I have time for today, I’ll evaluate some more hype and hotel heroism later on this month.

 

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