Enjoy your stay: how hotel technology is enhancing the guest experience
Check in with tech
There was a time when we would journey near and far to escape our tech-rich, fast-paced, switched-on world. Yet, fuelled by the full force of IoT and mesmerised by its slew of (alleged) life-enhancing innovations, it seems the majority of us just can’t survive the reality of… dare we even say it… an ‘unplugged’ experience.
It’s no surprise then that the global hotel industry is having to evolve its offering at lightning speed to feed our insatiable appetite for new tech-powered experiences. The fact that our demands are so diverse – stretching from the need for quirky and convenient experiences to once-in-a-lifetime opportunities – makes this challenge even more gruelling.
Resilient to the core and born to please, the hospitality sector has stepped into the ring, however – fearless, bold and brave. Some leading innovators on the hotel scene are really packing a punch too, thinking way beyond any box and creating solutions that not only satisfy guests but also surprise and delight us at every touch point. They’ve cleverly factored in our hunger for connectivity, share-ability and personalisation too – and some even pander to our penchant for experiences with bragging rights, leaving us as happy as pigs in the proverbial.
No alarms and no surprises
In search of deeper insight into the real impact of technology on the hotel guest’s experience, Oracle commissioned Phocuswright to conduct a survey, polling US and European travellers – and here are just some of the key findings:
- almost two-thirds of US respondents said it was ‘very or extremely important’ for hotels to keep up their investment in technology as a means of heightening the experience for guests
- 94% of business travellers and 80% of leisure guests valued the ability to use their smartphone for service requests or messaging
- 71% were comfortable sharing their personal information about food preferences and allergies, with 64% happy to divulge their entertainment preferences
- 62 % bypassed the traditional concierge and went straight to the internet to seek out non-hotel experiences such as local dining and activities
Sink or swim
For hoteliers, the writing is not only on the wall, it’s shouting at them, in a ‘Gill Sans Ultra Bold’ typeface kind of way: embrace technology or get left for dust.
While gadgets – with their shiny new exteriors – can satiate the geekiest of guests, a powerful tool lies behind for hoteliers which can assist them in understanding their customers better and ultimately help them raise their game when it comes to guest satisfaction.
OK, so it’s not breaking news and there’s a lot who have already dipped their toes – some are even swimming like a pro, double-piking effortlessly into the abyss. But in case you’re just on the edge, contemplating how to get wet in hospitality’s techno-ocean, we’ve handpicked some consumer-facing gems to inspire you and help you find your own way of using tech to improve your guest experience.
Smartphone technology has been the name of the game this year over at The Waldorf Hilton Hotel London where lucky guests across its 298 rooms can now have use of the fabulous Handy Phone – a complimentary device with adjustable language selections, ensuring 24 hour connectivity and convenience. So what, you say? Well, we did say ‘complimentary’ – and here’s what you get: enabled with unlimited internet access with 3G data, guests can avail of free international calls to selected countries, and free calls, unlimited, within the UK. Want to reserve a trip? Book a theatre ticket? Discover what’s on without leaving the comfort of your hotel – it’s a Handy thing to have.
Your face is the key – no, really, it is
Ever been caught out with a key that just won’t swipe? You know how it goes, you make your way to the 14th floor and meander through the labyrinth of corridors only to find your key has lost its magnetic touch – and no matter how many times you try, that red light won’t turn green. So it’s back through the hallways, down in the lift and straight into a queue at the front desk where you’ll first be scolded for keeping it next to your phone – which you categorically have not – before being presented with another key, which you pray will keep its magnetism until you get back upstairs.
Well, facial recognition technology at the Henn-na Hotel in Japan will save you from that friction-filled experience. Thanks to developer, Glory, all you have to do is check-in using an automatic payment machine… might be worth a mention here that when they first launched this tech, a velociraptor sporting a bow tie and bellhop hat greeted you at said automatic check-in desk… Then you register your facial image using a special terminal, and off you pop to your room where you just need to glance at a camera outside the door and you’re in! Talk about unlocking potential.
Sleepless in Seattle
We’ve all (surely) had that awkward moment when you’ve taken a cheeky afternoon snooze in your hotel room only to find housekeeping wandering through to ‘turn your bed down’ and replace the shampoo you’ve been sneaking away in your luggage… well, at Hotel 1000 in Seattle, the days of embarrassing encounters have gone thanks to their special heat-detecting sensors. An electronic doorbell silently scans your room space and feeds back information to a door panel that can tell housekeeping if your room is occupied. We say, sweet dreams!
In the ‘lab’ of luxury
Madrid is equally ahead of the hospitality tech curve and is enhancing its guests’ experiences with four state-of-the-art Living Lab rooms. A tech junkie’s heaven, these labs boast bedside tables that wirelessly charge your smartphone and have tablets that allow guests to speak face-to-face with reception. The next step is anticipated to be the introduction of intelligent luggage racks that feature built-in scales so you can check if you’ve overpacked for the flight home (probably all those shampoo bottles you snuck away earlier.)
Yobot-er believe it
No list of funky hotel experiences would be complete without visiting the Big Apple. At Yotel in New York, a TV just isn’t enough – not when you can stream your multimedia content onto a spectacular techno wall. And if you’re a VIP and can’t decide which way to sleep on your king-sized bed, then worry not, the bed can rotate to face the 180-degree views of the city’s skyline. If you’re an early bird and arrive ahead of check-in, you’ll also encounter YOBOT, an automated concierge which can load your luggage into lockers, leaving you bag-free to kill some time and enjoy the sights.
We tip our collective hat to these hoteliers and can’t wait to see what they’ll think of next. Now, where are our passports…?