As technology continues to infiltrate every aspect of our lives, the hospitality industry is recognizing new ways to capitalize on technology to provide a better guest experience and increase staff productivity behind the scenes. Analyzing hotel technology trends in 2014 suggests that both large hotel chains and boutique hotels are examining and implementing mobile strategies to bring their hotel into the digital age.
When almost every guest who walks through your doors has a smartphone, and your staff is also equipped with smartphones, the possibilities for technology become quite exciting. Hotels everywhere are recognizing this, and finding creative ways to use mobile phones to their advantage. Here are a few trends we’ve noticed:
1. Better, Faster WiFi: According to a report by Hotel Executive, the “average speed of a residential broadband connection is 5.1 Mbps”, while most 150 room hotels provide a standard 10 Mbps, “which would only deliver 1.4 Mbps per concurrent user – or just a fraction of what guests are accustomed to at home”. As more guests are traveling with more devices, tablets, and computers that require more bandwidth, hotels are investing in better WiFi networks and infrastructure for their guests. Faster, more reliable WiFi is also beneficial for hotel management and staff alike as it can streamline onsite communications, increase associate productivity and communication, and even enable managers to provide new services.
2. More Automated Services: From check-in to room service, to requesting more towels, the availability of automated guest services is becoming increasingly popular. When offered, over 85% of guests use online service requests for room service to housekeeping. Additionally, the same poll showed that, 91% of guests said they either checked in, or would check in using an automated kiosk. As guests are able to perform more and more tasks everyday with the swipe of a finger, they will be expecting to do the same in their hotel room.
3. “Smart” Room Keys: Hotels are increasingly working towards allowing guests to use their smartphones to unlock the doors to their rooms. According to reports, Hilton is looking to make this feature available at most of the company’s hotels worldwide by the end of 2016. This comes as great news for hotel staff and guests alike as staff will not be required to issue room keys, and guests won’t need to worry about losing their keys or stopping by the front desk upon check in before heading up to their room.
4. BYOC (Bring Your Own Content): 99% of guests travel with at least one device. Of those, 40% travel with 3 or more. These devices do not only mean implications for bandwidth, but they also mean that guests are carrying their own content and entertainment with them. According to a Smith Micro Survey,”81% of travelers desire access to mobile video content at hotels, while 55% of travelers indicate the availability of mobile content influences their hotel or resort selection process”. It’s projected that syncing services allowing guests to attach their devices to the television will become increasingly popular as hotels compete to offer the best digital entertainment experience.
5. Social Integration: Guest engagement will continue to involve guests and hotels interacting over social networks. To date, social networks are already a standard, but hotels should expect to see continued use of social media by guests to voice complaints, satisfaction, and general feedback. It’s important for hotel managers to view social media as an integral part of a hotel’s general customer service, instead of a separate entity.
It’s clear that technology is making a big impact in the hospitality industry and will continue to transform the way hotels provide guest services. As guests expect more technological offerings from hotels, those that are able to provide the best customer experience in conjunction with technology will have the competitive edge.