What does today’s business traveller expect in their serviced apartment? A few years ago, it was all modern kitchens, separate working areas, flat screen TVs and super-fast wifi, but the emergence of smart technology has moved the goalposts. In today’s competitive business travel market, serviced apartment operators need to embrace the power of tech to provide an excellent in-apartment experience and stand out from the competition. Here’s five ways to get you started.
- Smart locks
Even before the age of social distancing and the reduction of heavy-touch surfaces, the room key was on the way out. Now, with guests able to check-in and check-out remotely, the physical room key is fast becoming a museum piece.
Smart lock technology is not only widely accessible, but comes in enough shapes and sizes to suit every location and building design. From the basic - using a pin code on a keypad or virtual key on a mobile app - to the futuristic - such as facial recognition and remote sensors opening the door as you approach - keyless entry can be rolled out with ease across your unit portfolio as they require minimal hardware. What’s more, management can remotely reset codes when guests check-out and send digital access to operations and housekeeping when required, making the guest experience even slicker.
- Resident apps
Gone are the days of the A4 laminated information brochure. In the tech age, business travellers expect a digital welcome pack in their apartments from which they control various aspects of their stay. Whether on a tablet in the apartment or accessible via their own devices, guests should be able to access key information, reserve the building’s amenities, communicate directly with operational staff and order in-apartment services with the touch of a button.
This is even more important with the current rise in extended stay. Post-Covid, serviced apartments guests are travelling less, but staying longer, which means they are less likely to want full housekeeping everyday and more likely to encounter a maintenance issue. An in-apartment app that gives them control over these preferences is therefore essential, while those staying longer for ‘leisure-work’ will appreciate the ability to easily book local attractions and amenities.
- Home devices
What makes a true ‘home away from home’? With the rise in longer stays, operators are looking to increase the homeliness of their apartments by using more natural materials in apartment design (e.g. wooden surfaces and patterned curtains), making the layout more comfortable (e.g. separating work and living areas) and adding ‘home electricals’ (e.g. Nutribullets and Nespresso machines).
Yet, smart technology provides a whole new angle. While you can’t bring your favourite spot on the sofa with you, guests can recreate their home digital set-up in their serviced apartment, such as connecting their Sky account to the smart TV, linking their Sonos to the smart speakers and syncing their smartphone apps with a range of the apartment’s devices.
The modern business traveller is increasingly conscious of their carbon footprint and sustainable apartments will likely improve customer loyalty, especially for longer stays. Canny operators should therefore not just tell guests the ‘eco-benefits’ of their stay, but show them too.
For example, operators can add motion sensors to lights, which turn on as they enter a room and turn off five minutes after they’ve left a room (i.e. going from sitting room to bathroom). Automated thermostats - where heaters and coolers only kick in at a certain temperature - make buildings more efficient and guests more comfortable. Meanwhile, simpler measures, such as inputting smart meters to show guests their efficiency sayings, will also enhance their stay.
- Voice activation
Opening the curtains from the comfort of your bed. Dimming the lights from the sofa when watching a film. Asking the coffee machine to prepare a morning espresso. Voice activation may seem like a fun novelty, but that’s how mini fridges were once perceived.
While the Alexa-fication of apartments is not to every business traveller’s taste - and operators should always give guests the ability to use the manual option (i.e. flicking light switches by hand as well as by voice) - the workforce is becoming more tech-savvy, with digitally-native generations replacing retirees each year. Operators that act now will be in the best position going forward.
Smart tech is a ‘must-have’
When it comes to serviced apartments, smart tech is becoming less of a ‘nice-to-have’ and more of a ‘must-have’. From enhancing guest experience to minimising operational costs, it is a crucial tool for operators and expected by travellers. At res:harmonics, our software integrates with the latest smart tech so you can offer guests a seamless experience pre-stay, during-stay and post-stay. Get in touch to find out more.