20 hotel tech innovations to know

Not so long ago, mobile keys were at the cutting edge of hotel technology. Today, hotels have to work harder than ever to impress tech-savvy guests. Here are some ways hotels are innovating and some platforms that are helping hoteliers save time and money through technology.

1. 5G Gains Ground 

Robert Rauch of R.A. Rauch & Associates predicted that 5G networks will “completely disrupt” hotel technology. “5G will be deployed for property-management systems and other uses beyond the guestroom entertainment including augmented reality, voice-assistant technology and more.”

2. Outdoor Connectivity

5G also will make it easier for tech platforms to expand beyond a hotel’s walls and out to beaches and golf courses. Platforms like Beachy are designed to work outdoors without a Wi-Fi connection and in sunlight. 

3. Touch-Free is Key

Rauch expects many COVID-driven tech implementations to go from niche to normal, particularly contactless check-in and touch-free menus. “Going forward, reservations, mobile check-in, messaging with guests, mobile room key and control of the guestroom via mobile phone will be standard,” he said.

4. Wi-Fi 6

The upcoming Hyatt Regency Salt Lake City will be equipped with the next generation of fiber optic cables that will support Wi-Fi 6—a faster, more efficient connection that will provide six times the bandwidth of a comparable hotel being built today with the ability to rapidly scale much higher as needed (from 3 gigabits per second up to 20 Gbps) in seconds.

5. Broadband Demand 

​​Anthony Wei, area IT manager at the Andaz West Hollywood (Calif.), agreed that higher bandwidth is crucial as guest demand increases. “We’re looking to increase by another 100 mbps download/upload,” he said. “This will allow us to provide even higher Wi-Fi speed for our guests.” 

6. Intelligent Texting 

Last summer, Aqua-Aston Hospitality launched an intelligent text messaging platform at its managed hotels and resorts that is designed to reduce hotel checkout lines up to 75 percent and expedite guest requests. 

7. Metaverse 

In April, citizenM announced plans to acquire a site in The Sandbox, a decentralized gaming virtual world and a subsidiary of Animoca Brands, where the company would build a hotel in the Metaverse. 

8. NFT Transactions 

CitizenM expects to fund the development of the virtual hotel by selling future non-fungible token collections the company will commission from emerging talent in the digital art space. 

9. Contactless Galleries

The art collection at The Shay Culver City (Calif.), a new Destination by Hyatt hotel, includes a unique, contactless QR code that links directly to the artist’s Instagram page or website, driving engagement from guests at minimal cost to the hotel.

10. Virtual Front Desks

Guests at Kasa serviced apartments can get information about their stay from a virtual front desk rather than talk with agents. “They can also adjust or modify certain aspects of their stay (extend a few days, request a late checkout, etc.) on their own so there is no need to spend time waiting for someone to help,” said Jeff McConathy, VP of engineering at Kasa Living. 

11. Third-Party Apps

Hoteliers are using third-party open application programing interfaces to understand guests’ needs at any given destination. “This means that personalization can go beyond just what the hotel offers,” said Tausif Khiani, VP & hospitality portfolio leader at consulting company Capgemini Americas. “Brands can now provide advanced digital concierge services to further retain guest loyalty."

12. Connected Spaces

The Hyatt Regency Salt Lake City will have a tech-enabled Broadcast Lounge with mixed seating areas, flexible walls for privacy and the capability to livestream events from the main ballroom.

13. Automated Accounting

Platforms like Docyt help hoteliers keep ahead of their finances without a full accounting team or partnering with a firm. The program helps owners manage income, payouts and account reconciliation. 

14. AI Connections

Sasha Barak, marketing manager at Enso Connect, sees increasingly humanized conversations between bots and guests. “[Artificial intelligence] is learning the data your database feeds it, recognizes sentiment and elevates the guest experience during these chatbot interactions.” 

15. Improved Accessibility

Technology is making hotels more accessible for guests with various disabilities. At the Schoolhouse Hotel in White Sulphur Springs, W.V, the toilet is completely controlled by a touchpad, making it easier for guests with limited mobility.  

16. Mobile Wallets

When it opens in late June, World of Hyatt members staying at the Caption by Hyatt Beale Street Memphis, Tenn., will be able to access their rooms with mobile keys stored in Apple Wallet.

17. Smart Devices

At the Mercantile in New Orleans, guestrooms have smart thermostats and smart lighting that work with the voice-activated Angie platform. 

18. Smart Markets

Guests at Virgin Hotels can use their in-room smart TVs to access the Virgin Hotels Marketplace, which integrates Agilysys’ point-of-sale system for browsing food-and-beverage promotions and placing roomservice orders. “Our ultimate goal is bring forth technology our guests didn’t know they needed,” said Jason Doebrich, VP of technology at Virgin Hotels.

19. Robot Butlers

The Mercantile also has a robot butler to deliver items to guestrooms—“quite beneficial as contactless experiences are now more important than ever,” said Joshua Herron, director of platform technology and business intelligence at Innisfree Hotels. 

20. High-Tech Furniture

Companies like Samuelson Furniture are adding technology to furniture for both public and private spaces. The company’s Sound by Samuelson line turns Bluetooth-enabled chairs into personal speakers.