Guest Post: Onsite EV Charging - the secret to powering up the hotel guest experience

Guest Post: Onsite EV Charging - the secret to powering up the hotel guest experience

Mark Winn, head of EV strategy of SMS plc, says 'its time for hotels to help their guests plug in and power up'

Luxurious furnishings, a good night’s sleep, attentive service and tasty food - these are the obvious elements to deliver a standout hotel experience to guests. The offer of electric vehicle (EV) charge points used to be an added bonus, marking a clear point of differentiation for hotels. 

However, with 11 million EVs anticipated on UK roads by 2030, car charging facilities are also now becoming the expected norm for many hotel guests. Indeed, a recent study by SMS plc found that almost half (48 per cent) of UK EV drivers would simply choose not to stay at a hotel without onsite EV charge points.

Not only is it the norm, but EV drivers in fact serve up a significant opportunity for hotels to enhance their business growth. There are huge opportunities in terms of invaluable Total Revenue Per Available Room (TRevPAR, including food and beverage) connected to EV charging facilities. For example, a hotel group with 50 properties and 4-6 chargers per site installed could see an increase in revenues, in addition to EV charging, in excess of £750k per year.

Convenience-first offerings

Attracting the attention of thousands of EV drivers to a hotel or leisure facility isn’t as simple as installing the charge points and reaping the rewards. One critical part of this new infrastructure cannot be ignored: the guest experience. Hotels need to think about how to position their offerings, ensuring their high standards of accommodation and guest comforts extend to the car charging experience. 

New research shows that 77 per cent of EV drivers are willing to pay for a concierge service at a hotel in order to limit the inconvenience of waiting for an available chargepoint. Why? Because only 38 per cent would consider waiting an hour before finding a different hotel for a lunchtime stopover or an impromptu overnight stay. Day or passing guests may see wait times as the perfect excuse to drive on by, but overnight guests may consider it to be the ultimate inconvenience, putting them off any repeat visits.

The finer details

What’s clear is that whilst hotels need to look for ways to attract new customers, they also should make every effort to encourage drivers to stay on site. As the market matures, EV adoption will increase alongside charging habits. It is estimated that half of user demand for EV charging could come from existing food and beverage guests i.e., those staying overnight. However, the other 50 percent will come from revenue from additional site guests, providing the opportunity for hotels to increase core food and beverage sales as well as benefit from EV charging revenues.

But, experience goes beyond the availability of charge points. It also extends to payment options on offer and associated reward programmes.  A study of the UK marketplace has shown that 43 per cent of EV drivers wish to pay for their EV charging at the end of their stay, 31 per cent expect EV charging to be free or included in the room rate, and 24 per cent of drivers would look to redeem points from hotel rewards programmes to settle the cost of charging. So, this begs the question: how can hotels evolve their offerings to ensure that EV charging provisions sit front and centre?

The key to success is undoubtedly in the finer details, charging is not yet the ‘norm’ across the hotel industry. As such using the hotel’s website and booking system, as well as affiliate sites, to communicate that EV charging is available on site, is vital. Providing further details on the associated costs, the payment options or whether the ability to reserve a chargepoint in advance is available could also be seen as an added extra, but goes a long way to ensure a seamless experience. 

As the number of hotels installing charge points increases, it’s important to remember that these little things are no longer a point of differentiation for an EV driver looking to select a hotel, but a necessity.

Effective infrastructure

As on-site charging grows in popularity, hotels must ensure they are implementing the most effective infrastructure possible. 

When it comes to choosing the right infrastructure, hotels should keep the ‘three Rs’ in mind to ensure enhanced guest experiences - the right location, right time and right speed. Charge points should be placed in convenient spots, available when guests need them and with infrastructure that offers power at the right speed - fast, rapid and ultra-rapid - to ensure all guests are catered for.

By implementing the right charge points, customers are unlikely to drive on by in favour of another hotel as the right resources will be readily available.              

Capturing the market 

A huge 67 per cent of electric vehicle owners say that the availability of charge points affects their choice of hotel. Any hotel, whether group or independent, that has not planned, or kick-started their implementation of, onsite EV charging infrastructure should act now. However, there is still time for hotels to best consider the rollout of further infrastructure and services to support this segment of customers. 

But let’s not forget while doing so there is one additional – and critical – part of the EV charging infrastructure that hotels cannot afford to ignore. The guest experience. A positive EV charging experience for overnight and day guests can help to generate positive reviews on a hotel’s website and affiliate sites. Added to this is the old-fashioned concept of word-of-mouth marketing i.e., recommendations to friends and family, or colleagues. Both can prove invaluable in attracting first-time guests. And the process of returning guests and recommendations goes on.

It’s time for hotels to help their guests ‘plug in and power up’.