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Digital Democracy - Natives vs. Immigrants

The digital world is quickly enveloping us. At BITAC® Tech & Ops we investigated how this sea change will affect the future hotel guest.

Monday, May 12, 2014
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Your customer is changing and it’s all technology’s fault. And looking out into the distant and not so distant future, tomorrow’s technology is changing the way we need to think about tomorrow’s hotel business today.

But it is more than just the changing nature of technology, there is a massive generational shift occurring where the kids of today interact with technology in wholly different ways than older generations are even dreaming about.

Here’s what we know: Those of the millennium generation are already interacting with the world differently than their Gen X or baby Boomer brethren and as they get older, l their generations and the ones behind it will utilize technology in ways that we haven’t even dreamed of yet, but will also probably not want to.

It’s the ever expanding chasm between digital immigrants – us older folks – and the emerging digital natives who have grown up in a post internet world and experience life in a very different way. This was a major topic point discussed last week during BITAC® Tech & Ops held at the Memphis Peabody.

BITAC® is of course the industry leading one-on-one meetings and relationship building event. This week marks the 48th BITAC® meeting, which is attracted lodging executive elite representing leading and forward thinking companies. And they’re all here to come together at BITAC® to problem solve, network, sign deals and exchange ideas to move forward the quality of experiences for hotel guests, while adding profits to the bottom line. There’s even time to cut loose, be social and network in a luxurious and relaxed environment.

So get set to rethink everything you know as we enter a potentially bizarre new world where the blending of the physical and digital worlds is just beginning now. As more tasks migrate online (from booking reservations to keeping up with friends to making out a to-do list), the distinction between online and offline worlds will also become less distinct.

Plus, we’re quickly moving to extend the original concept of hyperlinking to include physical objects in what experts call the “Internet of Things.” More than the internet 3.0, it’s the linking of objects with sensors embedded in everything such as glasses, clothes, devices, appliances, doors, lights and cars. It’s a techno fueled world where information is collected and algorithms and ambient computing – think Google Glass -- talk to each other and “learn” about our preferences. Think about that for a moment?

In fact futurists (Consumer Electronics Organization) predict that 99 percent of physical objects that may one day be connected are not connected yet. And by 2020 expect 50 billion connected things which will grow rapidly from there, according to Cisco.

To get a deeper understanding of how the hotel industry may respond to future trends as well as current reality we utilized our real time polling system to ask our top level information technology attendees and industry suppliers to voice their opinions on these major sea changing issues. Here’s what they had to say:

What kind of mix are you seeing of digital natives compared to digital immigrants?
Hardly any digital natives, mostly digital immigrants - 33.3%
Equal split between natives and immigrants - 52.6%
We appeal mostly to digital natives - 14.0%

How do you expect this equation to change in 10 years’ time?
Hardly any digital natives, mostly digital immigrants - 9.9%
Equal split between natives and immigrants - 25.4%
We’ll be focused mostly on digital natives - 64.8%

How willing do you think people are to exchange privacy in return for heightened personalized experiences?
Extremely - 9.7%
Very - 34.7%
Somewhat - 48.6%
Not at all - 6.9%

How committed are you to using mobile platforms?
We use mobile devices mainly for better operations – for inventory, communications and financial operations - 28.3%
We use mobile devices mainly to engage guests, give them options and keep them informed - 18.3%
We use mobile equally for our guests as well as for our operations - 41.7%
We’re not convinced mobile devices are a useful investment for our property - 11.7%

Do you feel technology is used correctly to enhance the guest experience at the typical hotel property?
Industry on the cutting edge - 2.5%
Industry is properly positioned with tech - 5.1%
Industry could do better - 67.1%
Industry is way behind - 25.3%

What do guests want most from technology in hotels that isn’t internet related?
Control guest room functionality from phone - 14.5%
Ability to create more personalized stays - 30.4%
Online room selection and check-in - 26.1%
More technology driven entertainment options - 29.0%

What do you feel will be the next great guest focused technology?
In-room Connectivity Centers - 16.2%
In-room Video Games - 0.0%
Utilizing mobile devices for more personalized property experiences - 83.8%

What sort of apps based information do you believe would be most welcomed and appreciated by guests?
Pre-arrival information for the applicable convention, meeting, etc. - 25.4%
Pre-arrival information regarding tourism, things to do in the area etc. - 40.7%
Information regarding restaurants, activities, etc. within the hotel - 33.9%

Do you think ‘push offers’ to personal devices while at a hotel will be critical to the leisure guest experience?
Absolutely - 47.8%
Perhaps - 40.6%
Not at all - 8.7%
I’m not sure - 2.9%

Will eCommerce continue to steal ever greater share of marketing dollars from the advertising budget?
Absolutely - 80.3%
It’s siphoned enough away already - 9.1%
Traditional advertising will make a comeback - 0.0%
I don’t know - 10.6%

Guests are traveling with multiple devices. On average how many per room are being used when more than one person in staying in room?
1 - 1.3%
2 - 5.3%
3 - 33.3%
4 - 29.3%
5 or more - 30.7%

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