The tech challenges facing hotels

By Mark Mayne, Technology Writer

Keeping devices charged is one of the tech challenges facing hotels and hoteliers

The hotel industry is grappling with new technology on many fronts - from cloud-based booking systems to in-house phone management, customer relationship management systems through to e-billing. Essential though these back-office technologies are, they are often trumped by the real-life experience offered to hotel guests during their stay. 

Staying up to date with guest-friendly tech is a tough battle for hotels to win. The average consumer carries three devices when they travel and has access to a wealth of powerful entertainment, communication and personal management tools at home. Many expect an equivalent high-end (and high-tech) experience when they travel. 

Meeting expectations

Today’s guest expectations are much higher. The rise in smart home technology adoption means that many consumers already have web-connected smart TVs, Wi-Fi door locks and automatic lighting. More than 5 billion people worldwide have mobile devices [1], while Amazon has sold over 100 million Alexa smart speakers [2]. This access to tech raises the bar considerably for hoteliers trying to improve the guest experience. 

Faced with an array of potential technologies, hoteliers might be tempted to jump straight in and devise a lengthy gadget wishlist. But the cost of implementation and integration of any new tech needs to be considered here, as do ongoing support and service requirements. Crucially, what’s the ROI? Given the pace of technological change and the changing habits of consumers, some room upgrades are riskier than others.

A low-risk approach

The smartest approach to almost any technology implementation is to assess the requirements of a guest in context, as well as remain clear-eyed about the maturity of individual solutions. While improving connectivity for guests (in terms of speed and reliability) is unlikely to go out of fashion, the jury is still out on smart lighting and mobile keys. They are ‘nice to have’ features. Rarely does anyone complain that they had to use a card or key to get into their room.

There are, however, many examples of more niche obsolete technology cluttering hotel rooms around the globe. A good example here is device charging. Many hotels still don’t offer dedicated charging points or enough plug sockets to make it easy for guests to power their devices. Others haven’t moved with the times, maintaining support for connections (like Apple’s 30-pin dock connector) that people no longer use. 

What guests want

Taking an industry standard approach is certainly the best tactic for hotels today. Guests crave convenience. They want their TVs to have Netflix or the option to connect their own devices via HDMI or USB. Just like they have at home. And when it comes to in-room charging, they want extra plug sockets or access to widely-used USB and Qi wireless charging interfaces. Just like they have at home.

The Brandstand CubieTime is available in UK and EU versions

The CubieTime digital alarm clock is available in US, UK and EU versions.

Charging is an easy upgrade. The Brandstand CubieTime alarm clock, for example, offers two pass-through standard UK or EU plug sockets, plus USB A and USB C charging ports - a combination that won’t be outdated for some time to come. Need wireless charging? The Brandstand CubieDuo (compliant with Samsung 10W Fast charge and Apple 7.5W) also supports Qi wireless power transfer.

Assess the solutions

Even with technology solutions that appear to be obvious winners, it is worth taking the time to fully evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. As well as business value, consider what the guest needs or wants, then work through exactly how a technology solution might deliver on this goal. Start with asking the right questions. These should include:

  1. What is the problem we are trying to solve?
  2. What available technology solutions solve the problem?
  3. Who sells the best solution?
  4. Is that solution easy to implement at scale?
  5. Is it cost-effective for our business?
  6. What is the impact if we don’t adopt this new technology? 
  7. What is the impact if we do adopt this new technology?

Try before you buy

If you do have a chance to try out a product or service, ensure that any testing is conducted in a realistic manner (and not by staff already familiar with a product). Make testing as consistent as possible and ideally focus on the areas of greatest risk in order to speed up any assessment. This might involve targeting the UI and UX in a media solution, for example, or considering the physical robustness of a manually-operated device.    

The tech challenge facing hotels is growing and there are significant gains to be made by adopting technology that will add business value. Some upgrades, such as keyless entry systems and hotel apps, will be costly and disruptive, the ROI uncertain. But others, like VR hotel tours and better in-room charging are low-risk, relatively quick improvements that will immediately benefit hotel guests.

Upgrade your hotel’s in-room charging with Brandstand CubieTime.

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