August 13th, 2013 | Stephanie Ricca

Tech trends beyond bandwidth

13 Aug, 2013 By: Stephanie Ricca Hotel and Motel Management

Hotel technology isn’t just about bandwidth. Here’s what some of the hospitality technology experts at HITEC 2013 said about some other common hotel technology. 

Door locks: “Magnetic strips are out and RFID is in,” said Mike Dickersbach, VP of information technology for Thayer Lodging. “RFID systems deploy the locks around the building, then the lock-management system communicates between the locks and a back-end server, then to the PC for oversight.”

Brian Garavuso, EVP and CIO of Diamond Resorts, said near-field communication is an emerging trend for locks, whereby information comes to your mobile device via text, which opens the door lock. “I don’t see it as part of our environment because we want to talk to guests and connect with them, but I can see it for business hotels,” he said.

Energy management: “If energy-management systems are installed correctly, maintained and used, you will save money on energy costs,” Dickersbach said. “But for us, for a retrofit, there typically hasn’t been a return on investment to it. Some hotels that we’ve looked at buying with EMS have some problems—older systems require different voltage in guestrooms, and there are complications ranging from a bad installation to bad infrastructure to bad management.”

Guestroom telephones: “Keep guestroom phones simple; don’t spend a lot of money,” advised Nelson Garrido, VP of IT service delivery for Interstate Hotels & Resorts. “All you need is a simple phone guests can use to call roomservice or the front desk.” 

As for VoIP, Dickersbach said the investment isn’t ideal across the board. “I won’t put it in a four-star hotel or below guestroom. I’ll put in a standard phone for 30 bucks.”

Garavuso agreed that simpler is better and standard, too. “No matter what sort of chart you put on the phone, the guest just dials zero,” he said. “We think the future guestroom phone will just have a big zero button, a 911 button and that’s it. All the brands have moved away from requiring two lines as standard.” 

In-room automation: Garavuso threw cold water on the recent trend toward automation in luxury guestrooms. “It’s not consistent, the interface and usability are terrible and costs are high,” he said. “There are elements of it that make sense, depending on your property and your customer, but it’s often more of a wow factor and in that case, why have it?”

Dickersbach agreed. “It really is all about your demographic,” he said. “If there’s no real benefit, then why spend the money?”

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