[2 Minute Read]
Technology is quickly defining the hospitality industry.
When guests stay at a hotel, they’re looking for comfortable, safe spaces that meet or exceed the conveniences they’re accustomed to in their daily lives.
Hotel operators are more strapped than ever to reduce overhead costs, build brand loyalty, and increase revenue.
Technology can help accomplish all of these goals.
Keep reading to learn more about the ins and outs of the hospitality technology trends revolutionizing the market.
What is hospitality technology?
Hospitality technology encompasses a wide range of IT, hardware, and software solutions in the industry. It gives businesses a competitive advantage by providing better customer experiences, streamlining operations, or enhancing the brand. This category includes everything from online booking platforms to WiFi and room keys.
What is a smart hotel?
A smart hotel uses technology to automate processes and efficiently use resources. A combination of IoT sensors, software, and systems is typically used. These devices connect to the network to monitor and control a building's operations. Think of it as…
Blinds and lights adjusting based on the time of day.
Parking decks that use red/green lights to show open spaces.
Meeting rooms with occupancy sensors that trigger cleaning alerts once a room is vacated.
What does a smart hotel room look like?
A smart hotel room isn't just a TV and remote control lights. Instead, it's a network of connected devices that give guests an extra layer of control and hoteliers an extra layer of data.
Here's a real-world example:
A guest checks in with their mobile phone and heads up to their room. They unlock the door with their phone. As they enter the suite, the lights turn on, the AC adjusts, and a TV displays a welcome message with the guest's name. The front desk gets an alert to call and remind them of the room service options. The guest uses the iPad to control the blinds, schedule a wakeup alert, adjust the room temperature, etc. When they check out the following day, the lights automatically turn off, the AC adjusts, and the front desk gets an alert that it's time to clean the room.
Is technology important to the hospitality industry?
The hospitality industry is becoming increasingly more competitive. Disruptive companies continue to enter the market and increase customer expectations. If a hotel wants to gain and retain customers, it must stand out. Technology can provide a better end-user experience, lower operating costs, and streamline operations– helping hotels remain competitive.
Luckily, most hoteliers see the value of technology and acknowledge that it’s a revenue driver. Max Spangler, Corporate Technology & Systems Manager for Charlestowne Hotels, said, “We recognize that to maintain our edge and retain guests in the post-pandemic environment, our technology investments must be focused on how to be more thoughtful about how guests and technology, powered by data-driven insights, combine to deliver authentic hospitality.”
He isn’t alone in this belief. The following graph displays the percentage of hotel operators that responded “very” or “extremely” important when ranking initiatives for their hotels. Technology is the root, or part of the solution, for each of the initiatives.
Smart Hotel Benefits
Smart hotels give hoteliers the tools they need to be more competitive. The additional hotel technology may cost more upfront, but the downstream benefits far outweigh the initial expenses. Here are the most noteworthy smart hotel benefits.
Many smart hotel initiatives focus on automating and streamlining operations. Naturally, this decreases waste and shrinks your carbon footprint. If lights adjust brightness depending on daylight and AC only runs when a room is occupied, energy expenditure will decrease. This saves the planet and lowers the hotel's utility bills. Guests may also feel more loyal to a brand when they know it prioritizes sustainability.
Guest satisfaction is the number one priority for most hotels. Without guests, there would be no hotel to run. Smart hotel rooms increase personalization, which can increase satisfaction and customer loyalty. These little personal touches –like the TV displaying their name and being able to set their light and temperature preferences– go a long way.
Are the meeting rooms getting used? What are the peak times in the gym? Which streaming services and channels get the most views? Stop guessing what guests want. IoT devices and analytic platforms allow managers and owners to make data-driven decisions. Looking at historical trends, you can decide how to best use the space, amenities, and square footage to optimize guest experiences.
Increase productivity of hotel staff by eliminating unnecessary or repetitive tasks. Self-service check-in kiosks can allow you to reduce the number of front desk staff. Occupancy sensors in amenity areas can let the cleaning staff know if a room needs to be cleaned. IoT sensors can alert maintenance workers of repairs or potential problems, so they can look into them before it becomes a bigger/more expensive issue.
Guests have growing and evolving expectations when it comes to hotel technology. WiFi was once an expensive luxury reserved for business travelers. Now it's expected to be complimentary to anyone in the building.
The following hospitality industry technology trends are becoming increasingly important and will be expected before long. You’ll notice many of these trends overlap, with certain technologies falling into multiple categories. This only reinforces how important and connected these systems are.
The more devices in a space, the greater the bandwidth needed to support them. People will show up and expect high-speed WiFi on their mobile devices, laptop, and tablet. And guests expect to stream shows, play video games, and attend video conferences on your hotel’s network. A report by Oracle Hospitality found that 82% of hotel guests want to use WiFi. But 33% are dissatisfied with the service, and 66% want an easier and faster connection.
On top of this, smart hotel sensors and devices also use up bandwidth.
But bad WiFi can be, and is, a dealbreaker for many people.
Having the behind-the-scenes infrastructure to support these devices is essential to powering all of these devices, which in turn provides positive end-user experiences. Experienced technology consultants can map, design, and install a backbone that supports a growing network.
2. Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a system of integrated sensors, software, and devices that transfer data over wireless networks. In the hospitality industry, these devices track customer behavior, lower energy consumption, and collect valuable data.
In hotel rooms, IoT devices give guests control of their surroundings and personalize the experience. They can use a mobile device to unlock a door, this triggers the temperature, lighting, and blinds to adjust. Then they can use voice-controlled devices to order room service or get help from the front desk.
IoT isn’t limited to guest rooms though. Smart energy management systems use IoT devices and AI to analyze thermodynamics, weather patterns, and peak demand loads to optimize energy consumption in real-time. LED lighting consumes up to 90% less power than conventional bulbs. It can also use daylight harvesting and occupancy patterns to reduce energy usage further.
IoT takes many forms in the hospitality industry. Predictive maintenance, automated room controls, and energy management are only the beginning. Keep an eye on this category as it's constantly evolving.
3. Keyless Entry
Important players in the hospitality industry, like Marriott and Hilton, are beginning to use keyless entry. It’s quickly becoming a leading hotel technology trend. Keyless entry reduces the time spent at the front desk and minimizes the costs and environmental impacts of printing new keys and replacing lost ones.
Alternatives to keycards fall into two primary categories.
- Mobile Room Keys: Through an app, guests can swipe to unlock their hotel room and gain access to the pool or gym.
- Biometrics: Fingerprint and retina scanning replace keys or phones so guests can always access their rooms.
4. Touchless Technology
The Covid-19 pandemic ushered in a trend that was already emerging: touchless technology. We have to reconsider how guests interact with amenities to provide a safer and seamless experience. This technology reduces the number of high-traffic touchpoints. Examples include motion sensors, voice-activated devices, mobile payment options, and digital room keys.
5. Automated Room Controls
Heating, lighting, and air conditioning can be automated and set for guest’s needs. The light's power can reduce as the sunlight increases. The temperature/hue of the light can change based on the time of day. The AC can cut on/off if the temperature reaches a certain threshold. The possibilities are endless! Automating room controls give power to the guests and reduces unnecessary energy consumption.
6. Technology Lounges
Hotels are places for personal and professional trips. Nowadays, the lines are often blurred between the two categories. Technology lounges provide guests with an extra amenity to access WiFi, get work done, and get out of their room. Some of these lounges look more like business centers. Others have immersive golfing experiences, movie theaters, and more.
7. High-Tech Meeting Spaces
Modern meetings run on technology, with multimedia presentations and video conferencing running simultaneously. If businesses are going to use hotel spaces, they expect top-notch amenities and a painless experience.
Ahem, we’re looking at you AV.
Meeting spaces that need an engineer to start the system don't cut it anymore. Whether it's a board meeting or conference, people want advanced technology that’s easy to use.
In smaller meeting rooms, this means projectors and speakers that anyone can connect to.
In large ballrooms, this means concealed pathways, adequate power, and data connectivity.
8. Location-Based Services
Understanding where guests and staff are located in real-time opens the door to a world of opportunities. It allows staff to service guests wherever they are on the property, helps turn over rooms more efficiently, and more.
This can also encompass digital wayfinding and beacon technology. These solutions give turn-by-turn directions to amenities, rooms, parking lots, etc. And the digital signage along the way can project relevant information and ads.
9. Predictive Maintenance
Smart energy management systems help hoteliers optimize energy consumption. Predictive maintenance takes it further by identifying wasteful trends and alerting staff to issues. The system monitors waterlines, HVAC, and more through usage trends and environmental sensors. It uses this information to determine when a system needs maintenance to prevent failure.
Identifying and fixing problems before they escalate can save hotels a lot of money. Costs associated with damages (like a busted water pipe or leaky toilet), interruptions to operations, and disrupting guests can all be avoided.
Future Hospitality Technology Trends
Technology is rapidly evolving in every industry, and hospitality is no exception. As people's lifestyles start to blend leisure and work, the spaces they’re in must adapt to meet these needs. We don’t know if the future of hospitality technology is robots at the front desk. But we do know whatever tech emerges will be fueled by the following criteria:
- Increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty
- Optimizing energy consumption and building systems
- Automating and improving workflows
- Growing revenue and reducing costs
A study by Hospitality Technology found that most hoteliers have a healthy appetite for emerging technology, despite the past year of restrictions, challenges, and budget constraints. The diagram below shows the percentage of hotel operators who believe the technology has moderate or major potential.
Technology is changing the way we interact with the world around us. Implementing new technology in hotels helps to serve guests better while reducing overhead costs long term.
The hospitality industry is at the precipice of change.
Covid flipped the industry upside down.
Now it has the opportunity to revolutionize hotel operations through innovative systems. Successfully deploying these hospitality technologies can give you the edge needed to stay competitive in the industry.