How Digital Compendiums Are Different
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Digital compendium solutions create new opportunities for the accommodation industry and address the limitations found in traditional printed compendiums.
Chances are very high that you have heard of the term ‘digital compendium’, but it is never easy to provide a straightforward clear definition.
Now the question has to be asked, what are the minimum components required to be defined as a digital compendium in any format?
To start, let’s go over the 3 fundamentals that need to be included in every digital compendium solution.
Digital compendiums are available in multiple formats, including TVs, in-room hotel tablets and even your guests own devices (including smartphones, tablets and laptops).
Each device format uses one or more of the following forms of input:
Every smartphone and tablet uses a touchscreen as the primary form of interaction. With multi-touch displays being the core technology, this allows people to scroll, pinch to zoom, swipe and even type with the on-screen keyboard when needed.
TV Remote Directional Buttons:
In-Room TV solutions rely on the TV Remote for its input.
For digital compendiums available on TVs, on-screen TV Guides and popular TV apps, the directional buttons on the remote are the primary form of input to navigate.
Some modern Smart TVs even have a built-in microphone to dictate what you are looking for instead of typing with an on-screen keyboard via the directional buttons.
E.g. searching for a particular movie on Netflix or channel on YouTube by speaking its name.
This is available in many smart devices but it is still an emerging technology when it comes to use cases beyond the basics and smart voice assistants.
These rely on a built-in microphone to be used and in most cases, require permission from the user to use the microphone functionality for each app/assistant on each device.
Keyboard & Mouse:
With guests bringing their own devices to your property, many people (likely for business) will bring their MacBook or laptop computer and can use these to access your property compendium details and services if you offer a bring your own device (BYOD) solution.
The next fundamental, is an interface that is:
- Familiar and
- Designed for each respective device type and size.
The word interactive is defined as:
"interacting with a human user, often in a conversational way, to obtain data or commands and to give immediate results or updated information."
To meet the definition above, a digital compendium needs to have a familiar interface for each type of device, along with being designed to feel effortless to use and navigate.
This is achieved by following familiar design conventions that other software systems and applications use on each type of device.
For smartphone and tablet applications, both Apple and Google have a set of guidelines for how developers should design mobile applications, to provide consistency between all the different apps people use on their own devices.
This is particularly important when it comes to how the software/details visually appear and operate best on all device sizes; anywhere from 4-inch smartphones, to 13-inch tablets.
For TV based interface, given the directional pad form of input for navigation, these systems generally rely on highlights or outlines, to signal to the user the current item selected, so they know what button to press next being up, down, left, right, enter etc.
The main reason most properties decide to upgrade to a digital solution from their traditional printed in-room compendiums, is the ability to update and publish details in real time.
True digital compendiums come with an interface designed for property management (commonly referred to as a Content Management System), to manage their compendium details and publish updates for all their guests to see almost instantly.
Printed hotel compendiums are rarely or never updated, given the substantial cost, time and resources to carry out this exercise; not to mention that any of these details can be outdated as soon as they have been printed.
With time being one of the biggest bottlenecks for traditional systems, compared to reprinting the pages you need to update and deliver to each of your guest rooms, which could take multiple hours, you can reduce this to just a couple of minutes to deliver updated details, to all guests in all rooms.
Everything above should be considered the bare minimum requirement for any digital compendium available on the market. A digital compendium however, should offer more than this.
Additional Features and Benefits
Here are some features found in digital compendium solutions, that are considered unique to a particular compendium format, or not found in all.
In this post-pandemic world, the need for contactless solutions have become of an even greater need. By allowing your guests to use their own devices which are not shared with anyone else, you can remove the hardware/resources that would otherwise be required, to deliver your compendium details in each guest room.
By allowing guests to have their own access to your compendium details and services via their own devices, you can provide guests more flexibility than other compendium formats, from a time and accessibility perspective.
For example, everyone staying in a guest room can now look at the details they want immediately after check-in at the same time, without having to huddle around the single printed compendium.
With text-based messaging being more popular than phone calls in this modern world, offering a direct messaging service between each of your guests individually and your reception staff is now possible. This allows for more flexibility with replying to messages, improves the clarity of the conversation at each end and can also be used without sharing any personal contact details.
Digital compendiums allow for supporting multiple languages, for all of your guests, without any additional resources being required in each guest room.
Digital solutions that have a built-in Auto Translate service, allow for a fast and cost-effective translating solution for both setup and on-going information updates, whilst being just as accurate as human translators.
Should a digital solution need a consistent internet connection, if there are no information updates every 2 seconds? By integrating a digital solution that works both online and offline, your guests can stay informed wherever they are and benefit from a smoother experience.
A common tool found in almost all online services is a search bar. Upgrading from paper compendiums with no search function to a digital solution that does, allows guests to find the details they are looking for, faster than ever before.
With printed compendiums, if you find a phone number you want to dial, street address you want to get directions to or a webpage you want to visit, what do you do? You would enter these details into your smartphone.
Digital solutions should allow for this step to be instant instead of requiring manual input from the guest repeatedly.
For example, if a guest is trying to find somewhere to eat out that night, viewing webpages and menus for each restaurant/club/pub should not be a tedious task.
With printed compendiums, there is no way to gather statistics on how your guests are using your compendiums. Digital compendiums should offer a guest usage feature and ideally not track any individual guest for privacy reasons.
You are now aware of the major differentiators between a traditional and digital compendium. But before you decide to upgrade to any digital solution, here are the 6 most important factors you should keep in mind during your decision-making process.
1. Contactless Solution
As explained earlier in this post, contactless solutions are achieved by eliminating the objects/surfaces that are not required to carry out their purpose.
By allowing your guests to use their own devices, you no longer need any hardware or resources in each guest room that have to be thoroughly cleaned or charged on each guest changeover in this post-pandemic world.
2. Long Term Maintenance
Adopting a digital solution that is accessible on guest devices, significantly reduces maintenance over the long term. Your management no longer needs to worry about fixing or replacing any hardware or resources in each guest room and now only need to focus on updating your compendium details online after setup.
3. Environmental Factors
Guests are continuing to become more environmentally conscious. Providing dedicated and/or power-hungry hardware in each guest room, is less environmentally friendly then allowing guests to use the devices they already own, which also run-on minimal electricity.
The average smartphone achieves 5 hours of screen on time on a single charge, compared to the same amount of electricity being used in just 7 minutes on a standard LED HDTV.
4. Enhancing the Guest Experience
Digital compendiums have the opportunity to further improve the overall guest experience.
This can be done by allowing for access beyond guest rooms, so your guests can stay connected wherever they go.
This can only further improve their experience and the flow-on effect with reviews etc.
5. Protecting Guests Privacy
It is best to look into the privacy policies and practices each digital solution has in place, to make sure they protect every guest’s privacy. This can be achieved by providing useful statistics on guest usage whilst not identifying or tracking any individual guest.
For app-based solutions, these details can be viewed in the ‘App Privacy’ section on the Apple App Store.
6. Cost Effectiveness
Last but not least, look into the cost of each digital solution both in the short and long term. App-based solutions available on a subscription basis do not a) require a significant financial investment upfront and b) no hardware in each guest room. Any hardware would likely need to be replaced, before breaking even in cost with a software only solution after several years, if not decades.
Our Hinfo Guest Digital Compendium covers all of the essential and unique features listed above, which property managers should be considering.
A digital compendium should not require dedicated hardware, not break the bank, be accessible anywhere and allow for information updates in your own time. This is exactly what Hinfo provides and so much more.
To get started with our Hinfo service, please contact us via the form below for a demo or copy of our beginner’s guide.