Technology is being put to use in more and more industries and situations in order to improve efficiency, increase comfort or provide a better general experience for the user. So, how could technology be put to use in hotels?
This infography (read the full article here) (caution, it’s in French!) gives an inkling as to the potential uses of technology in hospitality. From automatic air conditioning to iPhone room keys to TV screen mirrors, the possibilities are seemingly endless. The CitizenM hotel, Amsterdam, allows guests to adapt the backdrop of their room by means of a “MoodPad”, which also controls the temperature and the curtains. More ambitiously still, the Hilton in Houston has a sophisticated surveillance system with facial recognition capabilities allowing guests to find other guests or lost luggage. While interesting and perhaps very useful in a vast hotel such as the Hilton, perhaps this example shows the upper limits of the acceptability of some technologies. Some people would doubtless object to a Big Brother-like operation such as this. So with technology offering extensive opportunities but also posing hazardous moral questions, let us look at the pros and cons of a technology rich hotel.
The benefits to the guest can come in many forms. Diverse media such as large HD TVs, games consoles and film libraries will keep guests entertained, while sturdy Internet access is a must have (more on this in our next post). iPhone room keys and complementary iPads with built-in environmental control certainly go some way to make the guest’s stay comfortable and hassle-free. Whatever the technology you employ in your hotel, you’re sure to leave an impression on your guests, and it may well make your hotel stand out above the rest. As an example, have a look at the TripAdvisor reviews for the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel (watch the reviews). Most guests are quick to comment on the technology service: “I love the iPad room management system”.
However, all of this comes at a cost. The upfront costs of hardware can be extortionate when applied to each room of a hotel, leaving you wondering whether it’s worth the investment. Furthermore, the evolution of technology is so fast that such an investment may need to be replaced every 3-4 years (1/2 years when it is tablet) in order to keep up to date and retain a modern look. After all, a hotel is a business at heart, and needs to be sure of a return on investment to justify such costs. While the services mentioned above clearly enhance the guest’s experience, are they really likely to offer any return on investment?
At LoungeUp we advocate the use of technology in hotels, but we hesitate when it comes to the extensive use of hardware. As we have noticed in previous blog posts, tech such as smartphones and tablets are ubiquitous these days. So why provide it for guests when they invariably have it themselves anyway? By avoiding investment in hardware hotel managers can save plenty of cash, but they can still provide the same services to guests with software that guests can use on their own devices. This sort of compromise offers a far lighter investment with a much greater potential for a return on investment, with the ability to upsell the hotel’s services and to manage guest satisfaction and therefore improve the returning customer rate. What’s more, guests will be sure to love it and shout about it both during and after their stay via Facebook and TripAdvisor and maybe more importantly the hotel creates a connection with guest device that will be active post-stay….