Ben Pundole, vice-president of brand experience at Edition Hotels, works for a company firmly rooted in a brick-and-mortar world. But he believes the hotel industry has a thing or two to learn from brand experiences created for the digital sphere.
Specifically, Pundole has become inspired by Instagram Shopping. He says that Instagrammers should be able to book rooms as speedily as they can buy a pair of shoes.
“The hotel industry is pretty behind when it comes to technology,” Pundole stresses at The Drum’s Digital Transformation Festival, during a conversation regarding the impact of digital transformation on the hotel industry.
“There is no reason that I can’t flick onto an influencer picture of a hotel destination on Instagram and book it immediately with the double click of Apple Pay,” he contends. “We're too antiquated to go through the process of travel agents and GDS systems.”
Edition Hotels, conceived by Studio 54's Ian Schrager in partnership with hospitality giant Marriott, is looking to transform the booking and accommodation experiences it offers guests at its 10 boutique destinations worldwide.
Pundole says hotel brands tread a fine line with technology – with a need to enhance their services while still providing a personable experience.
“Hotels have a very human experience, especially luxury hotels,” he explains. “While there are hotels that send you QR codes to get into your room with very little human touch, with luxury hotels, people want that human touch, they want that recognition – they want to be called by their name.”
Pundole details that Edition is currently sat in the middle ground of giving people the human experience, but at the same time using technology to elevate its products. “Whether it’s the booking process, or ordering room service, we’re continually trying to master that human experience and developing the right technology to amplify it.”