1. What are some of the key technological advances that the hotel industry will experience this year?
Hotel apps have been under discussion throughout the last years. Generally speaking they bring a lot of advantages but the number of guests downloading them has remained low. I believe that this is only going to get worse. One of their main benefits, however, is the digital room key.
I’m sure we will keep on seeing this type of technology being integrated into many hotels in the next year or two using Bluetooth or NFC technology. As it stands the app is a necessity from a technology point of view to talk to the lock, e.g. by using Bluetooth.
Now there is web technology out there that achieves this through a browser without the need to download an app. In addition to that, it would be a logical next step for Apple and Google to make the roomkey part of their digital wallets. If that happens, the rate of guests downloading apps will decrease even further.
2. How can hotels use digital technology to enhance the customer experience?
Most hotel guests experience digital technology in their day-to-day lives, so they have come to expect at least a minimum level of digital technology at their hotel. Digital technology can be used to enhance all areas of the customer experience whether it’s entertainment in the form of smart TVs, convenience in the form of self-check-in, or better service facilitated by an integrated PMS system.
As pre-stay (booking) and post-stay (feedback) communication are now very much digitized, hotels have started to adopt digital solutions for their during stay communication as well. For example, guests can read newspapers, play music, use their personalized Netflix accounts, access the TV remote, order room service and book spa treatments, and explore the activities the hotel has to offer, all from one single device on their bed stand or hotel room coffee table. This just wouldn’t have been possible before the advancement of digital technology.
There are also benefits for hoteliers—they are able to update information for every guest at the push of a button, they can benefit from the increased revenue that digital solutions bring, and they will, of course, reap the rewards generated by a heightened guest experience such as better online ratings and reviews.
3. Hotels often struggle to implement new and innovative technology due to cumbersome legacy systems. What is your advice to hotels wishing to adapt and progress?
I’m a big fan of integrations that make hoteliers’ lives much easier, but in cases where the technological advancement of a hotel is being suppressed because of cumbersome legacy systems, hoteliers need to ask a few questions and identify the business cases of the solutions they want to deploy.
Their first question should be: how will this solution benefit my bottom line in the long run? Their second question should be: how can I test this business case with a very small investment or even without an integration based on my legacy setup?
Many companies find solutions that work with legacy systems. For example, here at SuitePad we knew hotels wouldn’t want to fork out for new smart TVs in order to integrate our TV Control solution. So, we integrated an infrared blaster into our tablets so this feature would work with any TV whether it’s the latest smart TV or a box TV from the eighties.
The same holds true for voice over IP. Very often, hotel PBX systems are already VoIP ready or can be easily upgraded. If they support the SIP protocol (which most do), you can easily replace the in-room-phone with a tablet.
An alternative to this is to get more technology “as a service”, which in the case of telephone systems, means trying a cloud-based telephone solution in one of your existing properties.
4. As technology advances and virtual meetings become an increasing part of our lives, why does it remain important to connect face-to-face at events like IHIF and Adjacent Spaces?
In a world where technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate, the human element of any business is sometimes lost, but we believe it is probably more important than ever. We want to make sure that our customers see that we are not a company run by algorithms and big data, but that we empathize with their problems and find real solutions. That is why face-to-face interaction is still paramount in what we do and how we operate.
Events such as the IHIF give us great opportunities to show this side of our business and build trust with stakeholders, whether they be prospective or current customers. Virtual meetings are great for the day-to-day interaction between our business and customers, but we should never lose sight of the impact that person-to-person interaction has within the world of business.
Moritz von Petersdorff-Campen will be attending IHIF, along with senior members of the SuitePad team. The group are sponsoring the IHIF Tech Hub, an exclusive meeting space and exhibition hall where hotel owners, operators and their partners can gain the tools to understand the latest technology trends and how to use them to manage their real estate projects, grow asset value, improve customer engagement and gain competitive advantage via presentations, interactive discussions, masterclasses and demos.
For further information on the IHIF Tech Hub, IHIF and Adjacent Spaces, please visit www.ihif.com/tech-hub, www.ihif.com and https://ihif.com/adjacent-spaces.