While technology has become fused to our daily lives in recent years, hotels have not always kept pace. The lack of hotel tech offerings, particularly when it comes to Internet access, has become a common nuisance for guests -- with many objecting to pay a hefty surcharge for a service they'd get for the price of a latte in a local coffee shop. However, change seems to be on the way as a new generation of hotels embraces technology in order to appeal to tech-savvy clientele.
These “high tech” or “tech savvy” guests are incredibly important to target because they're equipped to spread the word, and as a result can impact hotel revenue. Social media has played a huge role in the word-of-mouth publicity that hotels receive. Now small, boutique hotels can afford to compete at the same level as the big, global operators, without having to break the bank. And these hotels can develop identities, which are attractive to consumers and set themselves apart from larger hotel chains. However, social media is not the only way hotels can differentiate themselves from the competition.
So how else can hotels distinguish themselves in the ever-growing hospitality arena?
Hotels such as New York’s Andaz Wall Street, Andaz 5th Avenue, and The Upper House in Hong Kong have done away with the traditional check-in altogether. Instead, at the Andaz hotels, guests are greeted by a host bearing an iPad, which they can use to check in over a glass of wine in the lobby. At the Upper House, the high-tech experience begins at the airport, with internet connectivity in the hybrid vehicle that ferries guests to the hotel.
2. Room keys
Hotels such as the Las Vegas Aria at City Center provide RFID (radio frequency identification) keys that unlock the room door when flashed over a sensor. Once inside, the system recognizes if it is a guest's first time in the room, and "greets" them by lighting the room, parting the curtains to showcase the cityscape or mountain views, and turning on the television to display a list of controls for guests to personalize. The hotel also boasts about its internet connectivity, promising download speeds up to eight times faster than other hotels -- all included in the room rate, of course.
3. In-room entertainment
The JW Marriott Seoul offers what it calls the remote Jack Pack in guest rooms. This single-source interface allows guests to control audio and video and play files from their MP3 players or laptops through the room's 40 inch flatscreen TV. London's Ecclestone Square Hotel is another great example. They feature in-wall docking and charging points for guest's devices and also provide visitors with in-room iPod2 to play with, and a library of 3D Blu-rays (and accompanying 3D eyewear) to watch on the room's 46-inch television.
The wired approach does not have to be limited to the hotel grounds. The Peninsula Hotel in Tokyo was the first in the city to offer walking tours of the surrounding neighborhoods and the hotel's own art collection through a guided iPod commentary.
Guests can request complimentary use of an iPod to embark on a tour taking in the Imperial Gardens, a major shopping area and other sites along the way, or opt for a tour of the hotel's 1000-odd works of art.
Starwood Hotels and Resorts are increasingly investing in apps for the mobile market, which allow users to find nearby hotels and check their room rates. Doing so allows them to not only to capture more bookings, particularly in the growing last-minute market -- but also to remain in contact with their customers.
For help with incorporating more technology into your hotel’s everyday tasks visit www.percipianetworks.com.