The love for new technologies, the overflowing passion for novel devices and the almost obsessive thirst for knowledge about each new technological advance has led to the creation of a new user profile: the geek guest.
by María Cecilia Hernández Ocampo
They are here to stay, it is not a passing fad, a trend that, like all of them, comes and goes: technological or geek guests, as you prefer to call them, are a reality that the hotel industry must give the place it deserves.
If you have never heard words like gadget, plug in, iPod , Smartphone, playlist, iPad, android, Xbox, Wii among a large list of new concepts brought by entertainment and communications technologies, we recommend that you take a good time out of your time, take a seat and connect.
Connect, yes, to that infinite world of the Internet of which you listen so much but to which you fear so much and carefully dedicate yourself to studying this new generation of guests, because they are no longer the future of your business: they are the present.
Research and investment
Nowadays it is no longer strange, although it is still uncommon, to find hotels that put all their attention to the technological services they offer. From the lobby of the establishment to the room.
A hotel that boasts of calling itself "technological", will go from the automation of its rooms: devices and remote controls to turn on lights, air condition the space, open or close the blinds or communicate between rooms; until having all kinds of electronic and digital "toys" that the guest can use.
Such is the case of the Pod Hotel, located in New York. "We are definitely not talking about an issue that will pass over time, this is a reality that hotels and the tourism industry in general is willing to satisfy. Nowadays technology is the way in which things are done, everything: the study, in business plays a fundamental role, in daily life, "says David Bernstein, general director of the Pod Hotel.
In this hotel it is possible to find, for example, in the hall with iPads fixed to the wall so that customers can search for places of interest in the city: attractions, restaurants, events, among others.
Even, from this equipment, they have the possibility to print the information cards or the boarding. In the lobby there is an interactive map of New York with a large size, this fulfills the role of a GPS by allowing to trace the trip to any destination within the city, starting from the place where the guest is.
Rooms feature state-of-the-art TVs and docking stations for iPod and iPhone.
And this is not the only establishment where they have understood this new profile as an opportunity for the development of their business; you could count dozens of hotels that have set their eyes on this nascent niche market.
But pleasing a technology lover is not a simple task, it requires a deep knowledge on the subject, be passionate until earning the title of geek and, of course?, have a significant sum of money to make an investment in equipment of the best technology and with multiple options: brands, devices, sizes, colors, Functions.
In addition, it is necessary to have the appropriate personnel who are able to care, do the proper maintenance and repair, if necessary, each device.
The Internet is just the beginning
One of the services that has become essential and, sometimes, strongly influences the decision of users to stay or not in a hotel is the Internet service. In some places it is already free, but there are many others that only offer it with additional payment.
According to Rafael Micha Smeke, managing partner of the Habita Group, an organization that has 13 hotels in different parts of the world, here we are not talking about installing a wireless broadband Internet service and being happy with this, although it should be clarified that it is basic and very important, especially when staying at the hotel, in addition to meeting the profile we are talking about, it is also there for business reasons.
"At the Hôtel Americano, in every room, we have iPads with playlists and musical, cinematographic recommendations and all kinds of information available to our guests. In other establishments we have installed ports for iPods and in the Hotel Codensa D.F. we have iPods in all the rooms for our visitors to make use of them, "explains Micha.
For some this may be excessive, but nothing is enough for the geek guest, they will always want more and better.
The goal seems to be that the hotel room becomes a tourist attraction in itself, a technological paradise, that no one wants to leave it. This is how Benjamin Trigano, from the Parisian hotel Mama Shelter, sees it, an establishment of avant-garde design and highlighted by this type of services.
"Our idea of rest is not just getting to the room and sleeping. We are pioneers in the free service of movies on demand. We have an iMac in each room with the best technology and free Internet, there guests can find a series of recommendations to visit places in the city. All the equipment we make available to users is high-end," emphasizes Trigano.
A very demanding guest
We must know that these guests, in addition to being very demanding, can become our allies and the best means of dissemination.
Bernstein explains that "this type of customer is intelligent, social and curious and, generally, their means to express themselves, complain, search and recommend or not a place is the Internet and we already have enough evidence of the power that this channel has."
This means, continues our guest, that those who have already been guests do the task of interacting, in a global context such as the Internet, with potential users: they will ask questions, comments, give advice, etc. "So we want to make sure that we are meeting and satisfying each and every one of their needs."
The interviewees agree that the general profile of the geek guest corresponds to that of a person with a technological intelligence, between the age of 20 and the so-called baby boomers. They are people who idolize technology and innovation.
Most of the customers who are framed in this profile belong to the generation of millennials or also called generation Y, sometimes known as the Facebook generation.
He is the typical connoisseur of technology and social media, is very interactive and very participatory and likes to explore their environment, discover new things and share them through media and virtual communities.
This type of users have, for the most part, a high purchasing power, because you have to know that each of these equipment has a significant cost. This is an expensive passion.
The task is not simple but surely it can constitute a great competitive advantage and the time to fulfill it is now, when this generation is just beginning to be discovered.
A well-equipped hotel that manages to get into the advanced and curious mind of the geek guest will see that its effort is rewarded not only in the level of income and occupancy, but also in its recognition and prestige.
Video game consoles are another marked industry trend. Many already have this type of "toys" inside the room.
Hotels such as codensa and the Capital District, of the Habita Group; the Novotel Barcelona City; the Mexico Plaza, among others, have bet on this specialty by making available to their customers iPads with games and other entertaining resources and video game consoles xBox, Wii and Play Station.
The idea is to have everything that allows the room to become a technological experience without losing comfort, which has been called a smart room.
Baby boomers are all those people who were born during the time known as the baby boom, which in Spanish translates as birth explosion.
According to David Bernstein, general director of the Pod Hotel, this historic moment occurred in some Anglo-Saxon countries (Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States) after the Second World War, between 1946 and 1960. In these places and during that period of time, population growth suddenly rebounded.
Another type of population segment is the millennial generation, also called generation Y. They are those people born between 1982 and 1994, who witnessed in their conscious age several events such as the birth of the Internet, the "dot com" bubble, the automation of spaces and elements, the consolidation of video games, among many other technological phenomena.
On the other hand, Generation Z is the one who has been called "digital natives", they are the ones who acquire the ability to master technology from an early age.
(Photo taken from Flickr, from user RSMS)