The tech challenges facing hotels

By Mark Mayne, Technology Writer

The tech challenges facing hotels focus on how guests can keep their devices charged - Brandstand

The hotel industry is grappling with new technologies on many fronts - from cloud-based booking systems to in-house phone management, customer relationship management (CRM) systems through to e-billing. These operational technologies will be essential in the years to come, but enhancing the guest experience shouldn’t be overlooked.

Staying up to date with guest-friendly hospitality tech can be a tough battle for hotels to win. The average consumer is increasingly tech-savvy and has access to a wealth of gadgetry at home - fast Wi-Fi, a connected TV with access to their favorite streaming platforms, smart speakers, video game consoles, wireless charging and smarter lighting. 

  • 68% of US households added a new streaming service in 2020 [1]
  • Worldwide smart speaker sales have exceeded 500 million [2]
  • Global mobile app downloads rose 31.7% year-on-year in Q2 2020 [3]
  • The global wireless charging market was worth $3.52 Billion in 2020 [4]
  • By 2030, 87% percent of the world’s light sources will be LEDs [5]

New guest expectations

The world is changing and travelers are starting to expect more from their hotel room tech than a kettle/coffee maker and an outdated clock radio.

For hotels, satisfying technology expectations isn’t a simple task. Faced with such a wide array of potential options - from digital TVs to smart lighting - hoteliers might be tempted to jump straight in and make a lengthy gadget wish-list. But the cost of technology implementation and integration should always be considered, along with ongoing support and service requirements. 

Most importantly, what’s the return on investment in each case? The breakneck pace of technological advances, plus the changing habits of consumers, can make some room upgrades a risky proposition. Remember: there are thousands of hotel rooms with obsolete technology that once took pride of place – like those curvaceous speaker docks, none of which now have the right connectors to work with modern smartphones.

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

Device charging is another example. Many hotels still don’t offer dedicated charging points or enough power outlets to make it easy for guests to power up their devices. Yet solutions are simple, inexpensive and easy to retro-fit. They make a big difference to guests who’ve become reliant on portable, battery-driven devices.

With all this mind, it’s wise to take a measured approach with any tech upgrade. Be sure to assess the genuine needs of your guests, while not becoming too distracted by the latest technological fads. Improving Wi-Fi range, speed and reliability across a hotel is an obviously wise investment (and one guests will thank you for), while the pandemic has thrust mobile apps and keyless entry systems to the forefront. In fact:

  • According to a survey of 1,000 hotel guests in the US, nearly 90% of guests would prefer a hotel to have a mobile app [6]
  • Research by Oracle and Skift reveals that 60% of hotel executives are considering/already using room keys activated by smartphones [7]
  • Read: How smartphones are shaping the hotel experience

Guests crave convenience

One of the best tactics when looking at hospitality technology is to take an industry standard approach as much as possible. Guests want to be able to sign in to Netflix,

HBO Max or Disney+ on a hotel TV, or have the option to connect their own devices via HDMI or USB – just like they do at home. And when it comes to in-room charging, they want additional plug sockets or standard USB ports and wireless charging interfaces – just like they do at home.

The Brandstand CubieBlue reinvents the alarm clock. It's just one of the many products in the Cubie line.

Adding charging solutions is an easy upgrade. The best-selling Brandstand CubieTime alarm clock, for example, offers two tamper resistant power outlets, plus 2x USB and 1x USB C charging ports (EU/UK versions), a combination that will remain usable for years to come. And if you prefer the maintenance-free simplicity of wireless charging, Brandstand’s wireless power products all support the Qi Wireless standard, which is compatible with all of the biggest smartphone brands.

Assess the available solutions

No matter how good a technology solution looks, it’s always worth taking the time to examine its strengths and weaknesses. As well as the value to your business, you should consider how well it fulfils the guests’ needs, and then consider how the product might deliver on this goal. Ask yourself the following questions…

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

Try before you buy

If there’s an opportunity to test the product or service, do so in a realistic, practical way – and preferably don’t use someone who has a working knowledge of it. This way, you can gauge how easy it is to use and approach it like a hotel guest would. Ensure any testing is consistent, and focus on pressure points – like the user interface of a media system or the safety rating of a charging product. 

The challenge of keeping up to date with hospitality technology is a growing problem for hotels. But there are huge benefits to be had by adopting the right systems that add value to the business and make your guests’ stay more pleasurable. 

Some upgrades, such as automated check-in and keyless entry or robotic staff (don’t laugh, it’s already happening) could be expensive to deploy with no guarantee of a return on your investment. But others, like virtual hotel tours, more efficient LED lighting and improved in-room charging are low-risk, high-impact improvements that will immediately benefit hotel guests and, ultimately, your reputation.

Upgrade your hotel’s in-room charging capabilities with Brandstand power and charging products.

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