By Steve Jarratt, Technology Writer
Technology is having a dramatic impact on the hospitality business, from planning and booking via online sites to in-room improvements like keyless entry, wireless/wired charging and app-based guest services. This new hotel tech is playing an important role in augmenting the overall guest experience and giving people a compelling reason to return.
Today’s travellers are increasingly smart and tech-savvy. They own Amazon Alexa devices and internet-connected TVs. Plus, they rarely leave home without a smartphone or tablet, which have become indispensable tools for booking, navigating, settling bills, handling language problems, taking photos, and crucially, leaving instant reviews on TripAdvisor.
- Wake up to the value of hotel alarm clocks
- Why your hotel guests want easy charging
- Discover the Brandstand difference
The smartest hotels know that access to technology is a key part of what guests want. According to a 2019 survey by Openkey, for example, 98% want high-speed Wi-Fi and 88% expect device charging ports as standard. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are several key hotel technology trends that will impact the hospitality business in 2020. Let’s start with...
1. Self service
Travellers are increasingly catering for themselves - booking travel and accommodation, organising transfers and planning their own excursions.
Many guests prefer technological efficiency over human interaction. So, there’s a current trend towards more ‘self service’ options, such as: online room selection, automated room service and remote check-in/check-out. Take note of the last one. As a hotelmanagement.net  survey pointed out: 68% of respondents found it “unacceptable to wait in line at reception for longer than five minutes.”
2. Guest apps
A natural extension of the self-service idea above is the provision of a dedicated hotel app, which can be downloaded to a traveller’s phone.
Not only can such an app accommodate functions such as check-in, keyless entry and room service ordering, but it can also act as a mobile concierge, does away with paper documents, maps/manuals and remote controls, and could be used to up-sell goods/services via a loyalty programme.
3. Virtual door keys
The days of metal keys attached to bulky plastic fobs or coded plastic cards could be coming to an end. The next move is to move away from physical keys in favour of electronic locks activated by scanning a code or NFC (near-field communication) offered by most smartphones.
CubieBlue: A charging hotel alarm clock with a built-in Bluetooth speaker
NFC is currently used for contactless payments and is secure and easy to use. No more lost keys and distressed guests, plus it streamlines the automatic check-in process mentioned above.
4. Smart TVs and entertainment
Everyone has suffered a hotel room which only offers a meagre selection of native-language channels. Savvy travellers expect a range of international channels, not to mention on-demand services like Amazon and Netflix. A smart TV should also have an accessible USB and/or HDMI port, so guests can plug in their own portable streaming devices. Or better still, allow them to log in with their own accounts.
5. Improved charging
The use of smartphones and tablets when travelling cannot be understated. Recent stats from hotelspeak.com  reveal that 85% of international tourists have a mobile device with them; 76% of travellers say their smartphone is their most important travel companion; while 65% of guests are online within seven minutes of checking in.
And let’s return to that Openkey survey we mentioned earlier, which said that 88% of respondents “expect device charging ports.” Not ‘want’, but ‘expect’. Hotels aren’t just catering for people, they are increasingly catering for their equipment too. It’s why hotels are turning to Brandstand to provide stylish, durable and user-friendly solutions, capable of charging multiple devices.
A guest with a fully charged phone (or tablet, laptop, camera, games console, portable battery…), is a happy guest. The technology experience of a hotel is just as important as the comfort and quality of its fixtures and fittings. The move toward an online, always-connected guest is well under way, and hotels that don’t embrace smartphones and tablets could quickly be left behind, buried under a pile of negative TripAdvisor reviews.
Discover how Brandstand can make a powerful difference.
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