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In the fast-changing world of technology used in hospitality venues, it’s all about the experience. Technology must be the facilitator of storytelling to deliver to guests something that immerses the senses and delights the mind. The movement behind this is experiential technology, but it’s much more than the audiovisual (AV) elements.
Pulling back the layers of the pieces of experiential technology concerns the connection between each element and its management, implementation and beyond. In this guide, you’ll explore experiential technology, why it matters in hospitality, the platforms that build it and more.
Experiential technology is the application of software, hardware, data, content and control systems to create immersive experiences for guests. In most cases, they engage all the senses and often have an aspect of personalization.
The emergence of experiential technology in hospitality was strong before the pandemic. Then there was a pause, but now the world is ready to travel and stay again. Of course, now those visitors want more. For a venue to succeed, it must elevate experiences.
This evolving aspect of experiences can deliver great value for the many stakeholders seeking to reimagine the guest experience. When applying it to venues, it immediately differentiates them from competitors.
These innovations also meet the expectations of today’s consumers. Modern travelers are well-informed about what’s possible. They won’t find the standard memorable and long-for experiences that are frictionless, personalized, intuitive and exciting. They will only respond (and return) when a venue can deliver this and actually make them feel special. The way to do this is with experiential technology. It’s what will make a brand memorable in the 21st century.
Experiential technology incorporates interactivity, immersion and personalization for all the senses. Creating these to be bigger and better stretches the possibility of the technology. They also involve many stakeholders, from experiential designers to architects to content creators and AV integrators. As a result, many building blocks must work in harmony and be interoperable, requiring a new level of platform.
As spaces involve more AV systems, lighting, digital displays, projection, motion tracking and augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), the builds become very complex. These polysensory and personalized installations can’t exist in siloes.
The new approach is with integration into a cohesive platform for central management. It consolidates hardware, software, control systems, sensors and tracking tools and content. Along with these elements, a platform further combines the entire ecosystem of AV, building management, environmental and property management. A new term from a Gartner study calls this a digital experience platform.
These platforms become the guiding force for developing the project as well as its management, implementation and maintenance. In addition to connecting disparate systems and delivering easy-to-navigate interfaces, they must also be able to handle copious amounts of data needed for the personalization factor.
Further, the platform must be robust enough to scale and provide a consistent and seamless experience across the guest journey. It must include a connection across the entire journey that starts before they arrive in booking.
Once in your space, it continues with check-in, which should be seamless, engaging and attentive. It’s followed by their stay, which should be a series of delightful moments with proactive recommendations. If things go wrong, which is inevitable, you have the opportunity to recover with the right response and support. Every interaction is part of the experiential ecosystem and a chance to win a customer for life.
Another complexity to add to the stability of these platforms is that the guest experience isn’t static. Each one has individual needs and preferences, so agility is also critical.
So, how does such a multi-dimensional platform become a reality?
Experiential technology platforms leverage two things—virtualization and IT convergence. Virtualization minimizes the amount of physical infrastructure needed. It enables disparate systems to become interoperable and manageable in one system. Virtualization is also vital for support and ongoing availability. It allows the platform to be resilient, so if one component fails, another is ready to prevent or minimize downtime.
Convergence is key to coupling multiple standalone systems into a single network. These technologies have long existed, but it’s the integration factor that builds a platform with value.
With these tenets, your platform can also deliver personalization at scale.
As noted, the platform must be capable of managing a lot of data. That data is another valuable asset that fuels personalization. With virtualization and IT convergence, the platform can more easily connect the most important data in a unified model so it can be used consistently for each guest. Adding artificial intelligence (AI) data is the latest innovation for personalization and will continue to play a significant role.
As hospitality spaces consider how to incorporate experiential technology and the platforms to sustain it, they must consider more than just conception and building. These processes take time and should involve all the players from the start.
Creating polysensory immersive experiences is a unique art that should be as authentic as possible, with elements of advanced technologies like 3D audio-beamforming and wave field synthesis, haptic audio, LIDAR sensing, AI and AR/VR. They’ll need to be true to the brand, flexible enough for dynamic experiences and integrate into the setting.
Imagination is the catalyst for this, and with the right minds at work, there’s little that can’t be designed. What comes after is implementation, management and resilience, and your platform will determine sustainability here. Without a consolidated and interoperable system, you may never get past design and concept. The logistics and details of implementing each piece are tricky and often require adjustments. Once the space is ready and running, you still have the day-to-day management of it, where uptime is the priority. Guests can have these breathtaking experiences without the show.
The effort to manage it and keep it running is even more critical, especially if the investment will provide a return in attracting new and returning guests. The journey for the experience is never over; it must replay each day, manageable in an efficient centralized platform, so each visitor captures a meaningful memory and connects it with the hospitality brand.
Alexander Hann, Communications Specialist, understands the challenges that clients face when they are making decisions about technology. He uses his extensive experience of communicating complex concepts to write about the latest developments in technology in a way that clearly explains benefits for business and technical decision-makers.