Futuristic ideas: The Hotel of Tomorrow

CHICAGO—A smart bed, a self-driving “adventure” vehicle and a robotic F&B experience are three of the five innovations created by The Hotel of Tomorrow Project, the think tank led by The Gettys Group, based here, and comprised of 325 hospitality industry executives working to address the challenges hotels face during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The mission of the project was collaborative envisioning of the future of our industry— bringing together brands, owners, operators, designers, research institutions, consultants and manufacturers to conceptualize hotels and restaurants in a pandemic and post-pandemic world. And, to do it entirely virtually and as quickly but thoughtfully as possible,” said Ron Swidler, chief innovation officer, The Gettys Group.

According to Swidler, in creating these futuristic concepts, the think tank volunteers “sought to find solutions to challenges that were too complex to solve on their own, such as: What is the future role of technology? What materials and design solutions would work now and in the future with health, wellness and sanitization at the forefront of importance? What are today’s and tomorrow’s guest expectations? What will guestrooms, meeting rooms, F&B, service and experiences look like in the near and not-quite-as-near future?”

The think tank resulted in 79 submissions by 16 teams from around the world, which were narrowed to 16, then further narrowed to five:

• Bed XYZ: An optimized sleep platform devised to enhance the guestroom environment featuring engineered fabrics that control bed temperature and act as filters to improve air quality. A group of smartphone applications allow guests to control lighting, temperature and humidity, as well as mediate background noise and regulate mattress firmness, among other options.

• Outside In, Inside Out: This concept incorporates aspects of the outdoors within public interior spaces. Focusing on lighting, air quality, sound and scents, it aims to mitigate the sense of confinement that can occur. Extensive installations of plant material, as well as nature-driven video imagery and other ambient features, are intended to create a calming environment.

• Hotel Rover: Accommodating up to four people, this self-driving vehicle is equipped with AI-powered digital assistance, guidance and entertainment options via voice command and touchscreens. It is designed for sleeping as well as transport between partner hotels, where guests can enjoy the full services and amenities of a brand’s physical properties.

• Journey Pebble: A digital, encrypted wearable that shares the guest’s preferences with the hotel to provide a seamless and personalized stay. Utilizing this data, the hotel staff can not only meet a guest’s expectations, but suggest additional services that complement the wish list he or she has provided.

• Robot Alliance: Robots are deployed to allow guests to drink and dine beyond the confines of the hotel restaurant and bar. Equipped with warming and cooling units and doubling as dining surfaces, these “companions” allow guests to eat and socialize anywhere on a property. Larger versions feature audiovisual components for music, movies and gaming.

“These ideas… respond to pressing guest concerns; and are achievable with existing technology and improved with future enhancements,” said Swidler.

—Adam Perkowsky