Wayfinding tech seeing niche growth in hotels
 
Wayfinding tech seeing niche growth in hotels
07 FEBRUARY 2018 1:25 PM

Resort properties, including the Orlando World Center Marriott, are adopting wayfinding apps to help guests, but the technology still lacks widespread adoption.

REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Hotels, whether resorts or other large property types, can sometimes be difficult to navigate. Some hoteliers have looked to technology, specifically wayfinding apps and beacon technology, to solve that problem.

Those technologies have been a point of discussion in hotels for years now, but some properties are only rolling out it today—including the Orlando World Center Marriott, with its World Finder app.

Experts from that hotel and other properties shared some insights on wayfinding.

1. There are multiple use cases for resort-type properties
Gary Dybul, director of sales and marketing at Orlando World Center Marriott, said officials at the hotel see many potential uses for their new app that can be tied to various revenue streams.

“Until now, we were handing out property maps along with restaurant hours of operation and scheduled activities—which is still an option for those who want it,” he said via email. “This app allows us to provide all that information, as well as a direct connection to make reservations, book a tee time at Hawks Landing Golf Course or view offerings at our spa, all in the palm of their hands.”

2. Apps can help amass information on guest behavior
Dybul noted restaurant menus and hours of operation appear to be the top use for his property’s app since it was rolled out in December. He also noted the more time his property has to observe guest behavior, the better service will be through the app.

“We believe there is much more we can add over time, customizing the information as we learn more about what our guests are looking for in the app,” he said.

3. Hilton unveiled a similar app in 2016
Hilton announced and rolled out a similar wayfinding app for resort properties in 2016 called Fun Finder, which is now in operation at Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort in Honolulu and Hilton Anatole in Dallas.

Officials at the Waikiki Beach property noted there are several use cases for the app, including noting times and locations of meetings for business travelers, making reservations at restaurants and spas, coordinating schedules for family travelers and walking tours for people who are at the resort or in Hawaii for the first time.

4. This approach is seeing more widespread use in amusement parks
While new to the hotel industry, particularly at resort properties, wayfinding has been leaned on heavily in the amusement park industry.

Heavy hitters like SeaWorld and Walt Disney World, both of which dabble in the hotel space, offer wayfinding apps.

5. There seems to be less appeal for meetings attendees
When people think of wayfinding in the hotel space, it’s easy to immediately think of meetings and events. But Armand Rabinowitz, senior director of strategy and workgroups for Hospitality Technology Next Generation, said there seems to be less appeal in those areas for practical reasons.

“After several hotels completed their pilots, it would appear they realized the best-use case for beacons was wayfinding, and that was really just relegated to large hotel venues with meeting and convention space,” he said. “My experience has been that no matter what we tried, most meeting attendees didn’t engage with mobile technology appropriately to leverage the wayfinding. They would go way out of their way to get help from a person. The solution, it turned out, was just to put more people out to help attendees find their way.”

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