By David Hulse, Ph.D.
Twenty years ago, hospitality was at the forefront of new technology and guests wished their homes offered the same luxuries. But, today, the tables are turned. At home, smart technologies control everything with the touch of a button or a simple voice command. Accustomed to these conveniences and gadgets, guests now have higher technology expectations of hotels.
As hoteliers build budgets for 2021 post-pandemic, here are three key questions when evaluating new guest-facing technologies.
1. Will this technology make my guests feel safer?
Hotels must now provide stricter cleaning, PPE and other health and safety measures. Guests are taking a harsh look at high-touch surfaces—including television remotes, room keys and even light switches—and expecting safer alternatives. According to a recent IDC survey, 85% of hospitality brands will implement self-service technologies in 2021 despite being an industry known for personal touches. How can a hotel still offer high-touch service without the “touch”?
Mobile keys, check-in and checkout kiosks and online food ordering are all great ways to offer safer options. Once in the room, many common stops at the front desk come from basic questions about food, hotel requests and directions. By adding a digital assistant to the guestroom, a new safer experience can be offered through voice-enabled interfaces to answer those questions and requests, as well as adjusting the room temperature and lights—a full touchless experience.
2. Will this save money without hurting quality?
Many hotels have technologies that are outdated and expensive to support. If your hotel needs to make upgrades in the next 6-12 months, there are cost-effective options available. Here are a few suggestions:
- PBX Phone Service: Traditional phone systems are costly and rarely used by guests but are still legally required for safety reasons. Leveraging a cloud PBX service can drastically reduce telephony expenses. Deploying an in-room digital assistant can also replace the traditional phone.
- Choice in TV Content: It’s no longer about having more channels or pay-per-view movies. Most guests want to watch Netflix, Hulu or other streaming services. Offering basic channels, along with a casting product, lets guests watch what they want without the headaches or security concerns of entering passwords.
- Reliable and Fast Internet: The Internet is one of the most important points for customer satisfaction. Adding an access point to each room ensures blazing-fast speeds, and implementing reliable, load balancing ensures one guest doesn’t hog all the bandwidth. A survey conducted by English hotelier Roomzzz said 65% of guests were online within seven minutes of checking in and one third requested the WiFi password upon arrival.
3. Does the company have my trust?
Deploying technologies is usually a 5-10 year investment. It’s critical to have the support, service, integrations and upgrade path available over this timeframe. A track record of reliability is also crucial. This confidence ensures maximum ROI and satisfaction for both guests and staff supporting these products.
David Hulse, Ph.D., is the CTO at Angie Hospitality by Nomadix. During his 20-year tenure, Hulse has held the title of chief technical architect for an array of organizations, including iBahn and ETV Interactive Ltd. His immense technical and programming skills additionally enables him to serve as a lecturer in computer science at the University of Stirling in Scotland, UK.
This is a contributed piece to Hotel Business, authored by an industry professional. The thoughts expressed are the perspective of the bylined individual.