When it comes to catering for the rapidly growing market of electric vehicle driving customers, hotels hoping to accommodate, attract, and retain this essential new type of guest must consider this:
Is it possible to provide a convenient and cost-effective car charging solution for my guests?
The answer, thankfully, is yes (more on that shortly).
But first, it’s necessary to understand how and why EV charging all too often results in a very poor customer experience at hotels across the UK today.
The reason in many cases is simple. It’s all down to a matter of speed. No, not the notorious nippiness that electric cars are well known for. We’re talking here about charging speed. Let us explain…
The problem with ‘rapid’ charging at hotels
In recent years, hotel owners who have had the (very sensible) foresight to get ahead of the market and install EV chargers at their site, have all too often ended up with the wrong type of technology – typically rapid charging – which does not fit the typical use case of their customers.
Now to be clear, there is nothing inherently wrong with rapid chargers. Quite the opposite. They can be very commercially attractive to certain types of businesses in the retail and hospitality sectors.
Taking just 60 minutes to fully recharge a customer’s EV, such a relatively short charging period facilitates a greater utilisation of the changepoint by a greater number of drivers. When installed in the right location, this often makes them the most profitable technology for the charging operator and the destination business.
Rapid charging is also uber-beneficial for EV drivers themselves, of course, presuming they don’t intend on hanging around at the location for much more than an hour at a time. This makes rapid chargers a perfect fit for the likes of supermarkets and service stations, but generally not hotels (that is unless your hotel has daytime and conferencing facilities for guests who don’t stay overnight).
For the majority of hotels whose core customers are overnight guests – it’s clear to see why the rapid charging model may not be an optimum one when it comes to a providing a great customer experience.
To illustrate this, let’s quickly look at the typical customer journey of an EV-driving guest arriving at a hotel with just two rapid chargers on site (a fairly common number at hotels today).
What a typical ‘rapid charging’ hotel experience looks like…
4.30pm Guest arrives at hotel after a long journey, with their EV battery low. However, both of the hotel’s rapid charging bays are occupied, so guest must park in a regular parking space.
4.40pm Guest checks in, but waits in the lobby until a charging bay becomes available.
5.30pm Guest must go back out to their car to move into a now vacant charging bay.
6.30pm After finally showering and settling into their room, guest goes down to the hotel restaurant for something to eat.
7.00pm Halfway through their meal, Guest receives a notification from the chargepoint operator instructing them that, with their car now fully charged, they must vacate the bay or pay an overstay fee.
7.30pm After moving their car back to a regular parking spot to avoid a fine, the guest can finally get on with enjoying the rest of their stay…
Seen in this light, rapid charging at hotels makes for pretty grim reading.
Fortunately, there is another way of providing EV charging facilities to your overnight guests….
The many virtues of fast charging
So called ‘fast’ chargers, sometimes known as ‘overnight’ chargers (the clue’s in the name!), are more suited to the use case at hotels for a number of reasons.
The first thing to know is that they take a lot longer to produce a full charge than their rapid counterparts (up to 8 hours compared to the 1 hour charge time of rapids). For the many overnight guests who park up their car before checking in and don’t intend to return to it until the next day, the fact that it takes longer to refill their battery is irrelevant.
In fact, it’s a much more convenient option than the rapid alternative, where (as explored in the example above) the chance of disruption to a guest’s evening is much greater.
As fast chargers consume considerably less power than rapids (between 7kW and 22kW for fast, compared to 43kW-100kW for rapid) and are a much cheaper technology to procure and install, they are also importantly a much more cost-effective option for hoteliers.
For example, for around the same cost of installing four rapid chargers, a hotel could put in up to 20 fast chargers and still consume less of the site’s overall power capacity. That’s quite some going!
Let’s look at how this equates to benefits for both hotel and guest…
- Lower the cost of charging
Fast chargers are not only cheaper for hotels to install, they are cheaper to operate and maintain in the long run, and in turn lower the cost of charging for your guests.
- Greater charging facilities for less investment
The cost-effectiveness of fast chargers mean hotels can provide guests with more charging facilities for less investment, meaning your EV driving customers are much less likely to be left waiting for a space on arrival (especially if combined with a pre-booking system).
- Better customer experience
The ‘overnight’ model of fast charging is more convenient for your typical overnight guest, making for a much better (and disruption free) customer experience.
- Avoid the need for costly capacity upgrades
The lower voltage of fast chargers (compared to rapid) means your hotel’s power capacity is less likely to require upgrading in the future should your electricity demand further increase.
The jury’s in, then.
Fast chargers are a much more suitable option for most hotels than rapid chargers. It’s important to recognise though that if your hotel has daytime guest facilities, providing a mix of the two charging speeds would be most beneficial.
Work with an EV infrastructure expert
With the UK Government estimating a need for 300,000 publicly accessible charge points nationwide by 2030 servicing up to a predicted 11 million EV drivers, hotels have a huge opportunity to cater for this fast-growing marketplace and capitalise on the commercial and competitive benefits at stake.
SMS is an energy solutions expert with 28 years’ experience helping our customers navigate the complex world of electrical infrastructure and the rollout new of low-carbon technologies.
Drawing on this rich heritage the sector, our EV charging solutions offer a smarter alternative to the charging infrastructure in the market today. Against a backdrop of provision that is geared towards fast-turnaround charging, ignoring the opportunity provided by consumers who want to enjoy an overnight stay in comfort, peace, and convenience, we provide an EV charging solution especially designed for hotels that improves customer experience and generates additional commercial opportunities.
Working with you to assess your specific requirements and customer use case, we deliver the charging infrastructure best suited to your site and the premium services geared towards supporting guest behaviour and overall experience.
The best bit? We’re enabling hotels to seize the great EV opportunity with limited to zero risk and cost through our fully funded, turnkey solutions – from design and install, to ongoing operation and maintenance.