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What guests really want from hotel tech

By Steve Jarratt, Technology Writer

Guests say they want virtual reality in hotels, but what they need is much simpler.

Ever walked into a hotel room to find it equipped with useless technology? An alarm clock you can’t seem to set, a trouser press 99% of guests will never use, or an old Bose SoundDock that only supports Apple devices with obsolete 30-pin ports? It’s an unfortunate fact that in-room technology is swiftly blunted by time and hotels can struggle to keep their rooms up to date.

It’s a problem highlighted by a survey commissioned by hotel operations platform ALICE [1]. When asked about the ‘most frustrating experiences about hotel stays’, 34% of respondents cited ‘outdated technology in rooms’. It ranked third in the list of guest complaints after unfriendly hotel staff (62%) and long front desk waits (38%). 

Want vs. Need

Indeed, around a quarter of the people questioned would happily give up amenities like a spa, fitness centre or room service in exchange for the latest gadgetry. A surprising 11% of those polled would even relinquish fresh towels and later check out times if it meant access to better in-room tech. The question hotels should be asking isn’t ‘what technology do guests want?’ It’s ‘what technology do guests need?’

Notably, the survey revealed that 43% of respondents want in-room technology to integrate seamlessly with their own mobile devices, whether that’s providing the right selection of compatible ports and cables, or having Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled systems for wireless connectivity. 

Personal technology usage

The ALICE research suggests that guests are more than happy to use hardware provided by the hotel. Almost two thirds (63%), for example, would prefer to use a hotel device to order room service. But it’s also worth noting that 59% wanted to use their own device for dining/spa reservations and for checking-in/checking-out (60%). It’s a clear signal that catering for smart devices should be a high priority. 

There’s a lot of merit in this approach. As Ashar Wali, President of Provenance Hotels told hotelnewsnow.com [2]: “Personal technology has surpassed in-room hotel technology to the point of no return. With annual upgrade cycles for consumer technology devices, hotels can no longer spend enough to catch up. Hoteliers, stop implementing technology of the day and just let travelers have power outlets, free, fast Wi-Fi and access to their own media.”

Focusing on mobile

A hotel room is a home-away-from-home for the weary traveller, so it’s no wonder that guests want in-room technology to match that of their own home life. Alongside traditional things like tea-making facilities and a selection of toiletries, they highlighted options like a white noise machine to help them sleep and, of course, a faster Wi-Fi connection. 

Add Qi Wireless charging to hotel rooms easily with the Brandstand CubieDot.
Add Qi Wireless charging to hotel rooms easily with the Brandstand CubieDot.

Increasingly, hotel guests expect a high level of gadgetry. But upgrades don't need to be expensive, as hotels can shortcut this need by making it easier for customers to use their own devices as part of the hotel experience. It’s why we’re seeing some hotels adopting mobile room keys, enabling guests to stream content from their smartphone to the room TV, and to contact room service via dedicated guest apps. 

Supporting guest devices

Of course, for guests’ mobile devices to play a wider role in the future, they need to stay charged. Adding extra plug sockets and charging points needn’t be a mammoth project either. Brandstand’s range of Cubie devices offers both wired and wireless charging in a variety of form factors, including bedside alarm clocks, Bluetooth speakers and Qi wireless charging pads. These standalone units can be easily and cheaply installed, solving multiple problems in one hit.

What do guests really want from hotel tech? They want something that is simple and enhances their guest experience. What they don’t want, at least according to the ALICE survey, is robots. Over half of respondents (56%) said that they ‘did not want to interact with robots during their stay.’ So, while hotel guests might want greater automation, virtual reality tours and in-room gadgetry, they still want to talk to real people. Just as long as those people are friendly... 

Keep your hotel guests happy with Brandstand’s UK/EU charging products.

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[1] https://www.aliceplatform.com/hubfs/ALICE-Hotels-Digital-Divide.pdf
[2] http://www.hotelnewsnow.com/Articles/27603/The-present-and-future-of-in-room-tech