It’s fair to say that software will help shape all areas of our lives in the coming years. Whilst the benefits of automating repetitive tasks and providing useful and contextual information are self explanatory, there is one area that software is greatly under utilised: the personal touch.
The benefits of providing a user with even a minimal amount of personalisation, especially with regards to the internet, are well known. You would be hard pressed to find a webpage with a login that does not include some level of personalisation. Twitter, for example, shows the current user’s name and photo on every screen to help identify the account as theirs. Settings can further personalise an application, but how does this translate into the real world?
Recently, I was lucky enough to be given a Scholarship Ticket to the excellent EnhanceConf in London. For this trip to the capital, I stayed at the new ‘concept’ hotel by Premier Inn named HUB on Brick Lane.
HUB, at its core, is a hotel for the connected. It’s apparent, as soon as you walk through the doors, that technology will play a large part in your stay. From the modern, automated check-in stations, the tablets built into the bar tables and the huge message board TV in the elevator, there are points of interaction everywhere.At the center of the experience is the new Premier Inn app. Once checked-in, the app becomes the control center for your room, allowing fine tuning of the lighting, air conditioning, and television. Best of all is the ability to order breakfast from your device. This is a fantastic feat of engineering, connecting 120 rooms to a network capable of allowing thousands of different devices to control the various features of a room. It could also be considered slightly over-engineered for such a small room where the built-in controls are inches from your head when in bed.
The personal touch came when I turned on the TV. In the top corner of the screen was a short message welcoming me – by name – to my room. Wow! For such a small touch, it helped me to settle, made me feel more at home and gave a sense of ownership to the room. Out of everything in the hotel, it was this small thing that stood out. Why did it make me feel more at ease? Could this be replicated to introduce the same feeling elsewhere?
One of the current projects we’re working on at Plymouth Software is a brand new version of Trust Trails for the National Trust for Scotland. I quickly imagined the software having a personalised welcome message to a visitor when approaching a property for the first time. It could give a short, up-to-date message from the owners, perhaps pointing out the must-see places and giving a recommendation of something to try from the coffee shop. By the third visit the software could provide information about finding those secret spots with the best views to encourage repeat visits.
If the personal touch can help users to feel settled in a hotel room, it has the ability to do much more. The growing trend within hospitality is for businesses to provide the personal touch to enthral customers to return, engage and spend more during a visit. HUB certainly enticed me to spend more in the on-site restaurant! Perhaps software can do the same for your guests and visitors.