Let’s start with WiFi. Joking aside, if you haven’t completed that step yet (and your hotel’s not a bonafide nature retreat) you’re about a decade behind the curve.
Guest-centric hotel technology trends today are more complex than ever before. They may require pricey initial investments for hoteliers, but the financial rewards are vast.
So here’s a list of 8 hotel technology trends that guests want at their fingertips in 2018 (and some tips on how to evolve alongside these trends into the future).
What Do Hotel Guests Want? Easy Experiences with Technology
Of course, hospitality is a service industry. But unlike other service industries, your objective is to deliver delight to guests while staying almost entirely out of the way, to ease every aspect of their stay while appearing invisible.
Good news, technology today makes that more possible than ever before.
1. Smart Rooms
Imagine awakening in a hotel room at 2 a.m. after falling asleep while reading. The light across the room is still on and the temperature in the room is a bit too warm to sleep contentedly. You grab a tablet on the nightstand to switch off the light and adjust the room temperature all without ever setting a foot on the ground, and you’re back dreaming a minute or so later.
Hotel guests crave convenience, and smart technology goes above and beyond. Whether they’re using a few taps of a smartphone to order room service or an iPad to adjust the indoor climate, guests have a strong draw to the ease of digitally customizing and automating their physical world.
Furthermore, voice recognition devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home give guests a hands-free edge. Honeywell makes voice-activated smart thermostats; Vocca even makes a voice-activated light bulb.
2. Predictive Analytics
Predictive analytics guide online shopping experiences (think: “People who purchased this also ordered …” sections on websites like Amazon, Wal-Mart, etc.). These analytics, factoring browsing history and historical shoppers’ trends, are meant to streamline the experience and give customers what they need faster.
Just as predictive analytics can guess that you may be interested in purchasing a toaster after buying the 16-piece cookware set, they can also subtly usher hotel guests to additional bookings, purchases, and experiences.
3. Data Security
It’s a scary world when it comes to your personal info. With billions of connected people using billions more devices to use billions of websites and make billions of purchases, hackers are always waiting to sneak in under the radar or backdoor transactions to steal:
Is your hotel’s network firewall prepared to block such infiltration attempts? How about the internal infrastructure guests use to pay for your hospitality? Guests’ transactions and digital activities should be protected under your roof and on your watch.
4. Artificial Intelligence
No, robots aren’t coming to take over people’s jobs and then the world. Where there is machinery, there will always need to be humans to maintain it and tell it what to do.
Artificial intelligence in the hospitality industry today is still a delightful novelty. It’s a robot delivering room service or a digital check-in kiosk. The seemingly limitless AI possibilities of tomorrow are already apparent today in some hotels. Imagine being checked in by a robot dinosaur. Well, it’s possible at this Japanese hotel.
If your more traditional hotel brand wouldn’t use such a techy gimmick, a well-automated virtual concierge or chatbot could address guest needs 24/7:
- Room service
- Pillows, blankets, and turndown service
- Dinner reservations
- Local tourist attractions and entertainment
- Spa appointments
- And more
Should you choose the initial investment, you’d be hiring the employee that never sleeps.
5. Smart Furniture
Yes, you read that right. Your custom hotel casegoods furniture can be manufactured with guests’ technological needs in mind. With the average guest traveling with multiple tech devices (and every intention of using them often), they need ample places to charge as they work and play.
So how does furniture fit into that equation? Easy access to charging and data. Guests don’t want to get down on hands and knees hunting for an electrical outlet. You can strategically place outlets and data ports directly within the furniture in places like the:
- Head board
- Dining table
Smart hoteliers offer full connectivity and immediate charging access whether guests are standing in the hotel lobby or lying in bed. Take it a step further with wireless charging.
6. Health & Wellness Technology
Many hotel guests today have fitness lifestyles as active as their professional lives. In fact, most consider fitness of body and mind critical for maintaining professional vitality.
Regardless of if they’re traveling for work or pleasure, people like to bring their exercise and other wellness routines with them. True to form, wellness tourism is a nearly $700 billion market - even if guests sometimes must pay a little extra for this special brand of hospitality.
A strategic layout of well-appointed hospitality furniture actually can help guests get their daily fitness fix. Consider:
- Standing and treadmill desks (to work and stay active simultaneously)
- Multifunctional components (a luggage rack can double as a weight bench)
- Vertical space (walls and ceilings can house jump ropes, pull-up bars, and resistance bands)
- Hidden space (yoga mats have a perfect home tucked away under a bed)
But it’s not just about fitness. Hotel technology trends today often feature smart LED lighting or circadian rhythm lighting to put guests in the optimal state for mental or physical activity and/or deep relaxation.
7. Keyless Door Entry
Everyone has experienced the endless hassles that accompany the traditional room key. Rummage around in your bag. Find the key. Insert it. Wait for the green light. Open the door. Shoot! You were a half-second too late and the door locked again on you. Or worse, the key card has deactivated somewhere between the front desk and the door to your room.
Good riddance to those days. Keyless door entry, thanks to smartphones and Bluetooth technology, quickly and safely lets guests into their rooms. One swipe across the keyless pad with an encrypted app registered to only your phone, and you’re in.
8. Green Technology
The number of hotel guests who say they have the environment in mind when booking a stay is astonishing: 62%. Not that hoteliers wouldn’t have been smart to adopt sustainable practices anyways to protect our planet.
Consider the following options:
- Motion lighting
- LED lighting
- Energy Star appliances
- Water-saving laundry units
- Smart thermostats
Guests prefer hotel accommodations that save on energy consumption and reliance on natural resources. From a management perspective, this also cuts down on your hotel’s long-term costs.
8 Hotel Technology Trends Your Guests Demand
Whether it’s entering doors without keys or interacting with a robot dinosaur at check-in, hotel guests today crave technology for both efficiency and entertainment. Implementing these hotel technology trends certainly requires an upfront investment, the return on which will just as certainly be measured in guest satisfaction and dollar signs.