New Roads in Guest Experiences
If you’ve done much in the way of work-related travel, you’ve no doubt stayed in your fair share of hotel chains. You’ve also probably become familiar with their neutral palettes of brown and beige, their dark, wooden concierge desks, the tile expanses of their lobbies, and their invariably consistent food options.
But, in the last few years, you’ve probably also noticed a few variations in these “invariable consistencies.” Location to location, chain to chain, brand identities are starting to loosen a bit to allow for a more local look, feel, and flavor. Many hotels are incorporating local (or locally inspired) taste, from the interior furnishings and decor to the cuisine and craft beer.
It’s all representative of an evolving guest experience (GX), one in which the definition of “guest” isn’t exclusive to just those staying at the hotel, but also includes local residents wanting to swing by for happy hour or an entrée that some friends from out of town were raving about during their visit.
And it’s likewise a potential opportunity for service-forward parking companies to partner with hotels.
The researchers at Deloitte recently cited that the next generation in GX will be driven by “cognitive capabilities and the development of a partnership ecosystem.” If you work in parking and mobility, and your ears didn’t just perk up, you might be in the wrong industry.
Cognitive capabilities, such as artificial intelligence, and partnerships are leading the current mobility revolution, and there’s plenty of opportunity to blend it with the evolution of hotel guest experiences.
For instance, let’s say you’ve just arrived in Las Vegas for a convention. You’ve picked up your rental car, cruised to your hotel, checked in, responded to a few emails, checked the itinerary and decided that you’ll catch the early bird meet-and-greet since you’re already here.
But it’s summer, of course, and when you get down to your rental car, you’re already dripping with sweat in the 108º weather. (“Honestly, what kinda’ rental car has leather seats in Vegas, anyway!?”) You get to the convention center, finally find a parking spot… and find yourself hoping the rest of the trip goes far more smoothly.
How could a parking partnership have helped your situation? Actually, in innumerable ways.
For instance, had a parking company partnered closely with your hotel, it may have elevated its valet services to exceed your expectations, offering to have your car ready and waiting for you at specific times throughout the day. If this hypothetical parking company is technology focused, you might even be able to download an app that lets you schedule your expected parking times in advance, or notify the valets when you’re leaving your room. They could have had your car ready and waiting… AC already gusting. (Think Caesars partnership with Ace!)
And yet, here we are with just one of many possible parking-hotel partnership solutions.
Ideating for a moment, can you think of ways parking management companies can engage with hotel general managers in your area to help them enhance guest experiences?
Perhaps it’s free parking passes for convention centers and popular attractions. Perhaps it’s plate-recognition technology that allows you to offer free membership parking or valet services to help attract nearby residents to the local Caesars Palace for happy hour. Perhaps it has nothing to do with complimentary parking at all, and all to do with customizing your services in a personal and local way, a sort of experiential welcome card.
“This partnership ecosystem has benefits for all types of hotels as it helps them provide the experience guests want while reducing hotels’ total cost to serve,” explains Deloitte. Beyond reducing service costs, it may even help to increase revenue and occupancy.
Think that’s a stretch?
Consider that 69 percent of travelers want to turn business into “bleisure”. But hotels find it difficult convincing nearly half of business travelers to extend their stays. They need to be convinced it’s worth it, that they won’t feel guilty or worry about the extra day in LA making them look bad to their management back in Milwaukee. Or wherever HQ is.
Creating partnerships and authentic guest experiences that make staying an extra night or two more appealing could help hotels hang onto a sizable chunk of business men and women who indeed want to extend their stays to take in a little leisure time.
Again, the ideas and opportunities are endless—but undeniably present.
While the perks of parking partnerships may not be the only reason guests choose to stay (or to extend their stays) at hotels, they could help to make all the difference. After all, it’s not the lobby, but the parking location where guests take the first and last steps—where they form the first and last impressions—of their hotel experience.