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People today expect to be connected always and everywhere; sometimes it’s hard to believe that there was a world before smartphones and Wi-Fi. In the time since Wi-Fi became ubiquitous in hotels, apartments, and public spaces, it has fueled the evolution of connectivity in a lot of ways. Just like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the most basic needs start at the bottom, and you can’t get to the next level without a strong foundation. 

By now, everyone is aware that hotel giant Marriott International announced on Friday a massive data breach that goes back more than four years and may have affected up to 500 million customers worldwide. 

After two years of preparation, the FlyZoo Hotel — a futuristic property that uses interactive technologies to do everything from greet guests to deliver room service — is ready for business. 

Mobile technology is fast becoming central to the entire travel experience. Consumers are increasingly using their smartphones to research trips, book accommodation, check in at the airport, and access their hotel room. But one of the next big roles mobile has to play in the travel process is mobile payment. The idea of an entirely cashless society might still seem some way off, but mobile payment is gaining popularity. As it becomes more widely used, its fast and frictionless nature will bring benefits before, during and after a trip. 

Digital marketing, also known as internet marketing, plays a significant role to boost hotel website traffic and online bookings. Recently, many big announcements were made in the digital industry, for example when Facebook introduced a new video format for marketers, or when Google announced a board core algorithm. If you are a new hotelier and want to stay ahead in the industry, then you should know what’s going on in the hotel digital marketing industry. 
 



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Technology Booms for All Generations

04/10/2018
It is widely accepted that millennials are the most tech-savvy generation today, but in the midst of focusing marketing efforts toward one group are the other generational groups forgotten during technology implementations? In reality, boomers should not be dismissed when considering the use of technology or when implementing technological advances since many are interested in the conveniences that come with technology. Rather than catering technology solely to millennials, businesses must consider all generations when making advancements because the technology will be used by many different generations. With that being said, baby boomers have a different way of interacting with technology and slightly different expectations about how technology operates.
 

Like millennials, boomers are using technology to enhance their lives. They prefer face-to-face interaction but are using technology such as the Facebook app and cell phones to keep in contact with family and friends. Although they do not prefer to be connected 24/7, boomers have many similarities to millennials and would not describe themselves as being old. Similar to millennials, they would rather have experiences than valuables. Boomers use apps for convenience. A recent Zipcar study showed that 69 percent of boomers who live in an urban area stated that the app “makes their life easier” and 81 percent of these respondents are Facebook users. Similar to those born after the 1980s, boomers are becoming Uber drivers and users. Based on a 2015 study, almost 25 percent of Uber drivers are boomers, as written by The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania. Technology is greatly affecting the lives of all generations. 
 
Technology in the Hospitality Industry
Technology is influencing the hotel industry by gradually computerizing human services. For example, airlines and hotels using mobile apps to provide faster check-ins and personalization, and robots taking over the operations. Yotel centralizes technology innovation with a robot handing over room keys rather than a front desk agent, and carrying luggage instead of a concierge. The automated process creates convenience and saves time for the guests. People across generations are receptive to robots in the hospitality industry. According to U.S. online bookings company Travelzoo, many people worldwide are comfortable with machines assisting them on their travels.
 
Hotels are launching mobile apps that allow guests to order hotel amenities at their convenience and to create an easier arrival and departure for guests. Technology does not have to take over the hospitality industry, but may benefit the guest experience. According to a study entitled “6 Mega-Trends in Hotel Technology,” technology is being added to personalize and to increase the promptness of engagements. Unique experiences and direct contact with a brand are becoming an expectation for all ages rather than simply a bonus. In speaking with Forbes Travel Guide 2016, Senior Vice President of Rooms at the Four Seasons Scott Taber said that the Four Season’s mobile app allows guests alternative communication options. “Of course, the guests always have a choice and that is what it comes down to – creating great choices for our guests.”
 

Generational Use of Technology
Businesses must understand that technology is not just a millennial trend. In the era of AOL, Blackberry and the outset of online dating, baby boomers initiated the demand for technological advances and contributed to the start of the technology boom. While they did not grow up with technology and are not as reliant upon it as millennials, they are familiar with technology and less likely to take the convenience of a new technology product or app for granted. As reported by Digital Trends,  Americans compulsively check social media 17 times a day, on average, and those ages 25 to 54 showed the highest rates. Furthermore, Webrezpro states that 85 percent of baby boomers are planning their getaways via the Internet. These statistics signify that while technology usage is high for younger millennials, technology is also welcomed by all of Generation X and the younger boomers.
 
A difference in how generations interact with technology is based on the amount of experience they have had with it in the past. Millennials grew up with consistent exposure to technology, and they are willing to experiment with the features of a given device. According to Dr. Michele Van Volkom, lecturer at State University of New York at Albany, boomers tend to use any specific technology for the main purpose of that technology. For example, millennials are more likely to be comfortable using a phone for a variety of functions such as entertainment and scheduling in addition to just the main functions of calling or texting. A study conducted by Expedia stated, “Travelers now consider [their mobile device] to be the single most indispensable item they carry with them when they travel, ahead of their toothbrush, deodorant and driver’s license.” Many hotels are beginning to embrace TechRadar’s concept BYOD (bring your own device) by recognizing that travelers would rather connect their phones to the televisions to watch Netflix, Youtube and Hulu than [G3] have cable television. By connecting their phones, guests are able to customize what they watch and bring the familiarity of their videos to the hotel room (Benbria).  
 
Same Technology, Different User
Although different generations’ habits may differ, the goals and priorities they have in hospitality settings are often very similar. Convenience and personalization are main priorities for guests in hospitality settings regardless of what generation they are part. Boomers are engaged in technology but they may appreciate more guidance when using technology. Businesses must be able to provide guidance and how to use technology in their properties in order to fully accommodate their guests. Millennials may take more interest in technologies that have multiple functions to ultimately make them feel at home. One example might be that millennials wish to  access their own music and movies through the hotel television, this according to an Oracle Hospitality study published in April 2016. While baby boomers may not demand such specific technology functions the way millennials do, they would not mind the convenience of technology options to make them more comfortable Hoteliers and solution providers must invest in innovations that keep pace with the expectations of a tech-evolving guest. Guests from different generations will use the technology provided in a manner that best fits their lifestyle with a different level of reliance, but technology is appreciated across different generations.
About The Author
Boston University: Janiece Nelson, Kimberly Kibler, Sabrina Avila, Elise Tringale and Ivy Guo




Special thanks to Leora Lanz's Digital Marketing for Hospitality class at the Boston University School of Hospitality Administration for providing this series for our readers.

This is the fifth article in a total of five articles in this series.

 
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