Why CRE owners should have tech support handy when implementing new technology

Hilton is one of a number of hotels following a new trend of letting guests use their smartphone as their room key, writes RCR Wireless’ Jeff Kagan.

So, rather than handing guests the standard plastic key, hotels will let point them to their smartphone app. Hilton’s app for example is called Digital Key. As Kagan wrote, the concept worked well—until it did not.

Although using a hotel’s app on a smartphone saves guests the hassle of carrying a room key, the app is not 100% reliable. An issue could come from the hotel or in Kagan’s case, his smartphone. Either way, if a guest can’t get into their room, they are not going to be happy about it.

How it works is after a guest checks in at the front desk, the hotel’s app contains their credentials and will unlock the door. The process isn’t as fast as using a key card would be, according to Kagan, but anything new is appealing to users.

On Kagan’s first try, the Digital Key worked just fine. The next time however, he was unable to get into his room with his phone after a number of attempts and was given a phone number to call. After being put on hold for several minutes, Kagan went to the front desk and requested a regular plastic key.

Although he was initially frustrated with Hilton, Kagan realized the issue was not with the hotel chain, but rather with the technology itself. After cooler heads prevailed, Kagan recognized he should have requested a regular plastic key as a backup in the event the Digital Key app did not work for some reason.

Additionally, Kagan recommended for any hotel chain that wants to implement a smartphone room key app to train its staff on how to help customers with the technology. Part of his bad experience was there was no one at the hotel or on the tech support line he was given who knew how to help him.

Later on, Kagan thought to restart his smartphone, and the Digital Key app worked again.

This experience Kagan had is also a good lesson for any commercial real estate owner that implements new technology to make their tenants’ lives easier. If a building owner is going to enter a relationship with any technology company, they need to make sure that company has tech support readily available to help tenants who are having an issue.

As Kagan wrote, “New technology can sour a relationship when it doesn’t work correctly. This is something every business should consider. They want to use tech to build a customer relationship, not run it.”

So, while property owners can make their buildings more attractive to tenants with technological advances, it’s crucial to make sure everything works well, and when it does not, there’s someone available to assist. If there isn’t, the tenant is likely not going to blame the tech company, but rather the building owner.

“That was the mistake Hilton (was) making,” Kagan wrote. “That’s a big mistake. That is putting their brand in the hands of technology run by other companies. Companies should always have tech support waiting. If there is no support, there should be no new technology. Period. That’s the only way to protect and build your brand.”

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