The biggest changes in connectivity right now are happening in guest-facing technologies, experts report. The advent of mobile technology will have a dramatic impact on how the traveler of tomorrow will interact with the hotel whether they are on property or not, said Patrick Barfield, director of property management systems consulting for Sabre Hospitality Solutions.
“Guests will be able to check-in, use their mobile devices as their room key, review their charges, request different amenities and check-out, all from their mobile devices,” he said.
Suman Pal, principal product manager at Agilysys, agreed. Guest technology adoption is happening on a much wider scale, he said.
“Guests are so mobile now,” he said. “They are able to plan a trip or book a reservation from just about anywhere—while on the shuttle from the airport or even while on the plane.”
The biggest change in the mobile guest-facing technology is that there are so many functions now available, Pal continued. With a few clicks, preferences and payment can be taken care of on the mobile apps.
Connectivity is giving hoteliers new ways to reach its guests as well, said Berkely Tolman, Stein Eriksen Lodge’s director of revenue. Stein Eriksen Lodge is a luxury resort in Park City, Utah.
“We have so many ways to reach our customers now, via text messages or even push notifications,” he said. “While at the hotel, we can send a notice about a happy hour via push message.”
From an operations standpoint, connectivity is more important than ever for guests, Tolman said.
“We can even send a simple notification text about practical matters, such as letting them know their room is ready,” he said. “It’s an easy thing but such a game changer.”
Having Wi-Fi available wherever guests are in the hotel is just as important, Tolman continued.
“Guests want access to what they need wherever they are and that most often is Wi-Fi,” he said.
But there is a balance that needs to be weighed, Tolman said. “We deliberately do not have Wi-Fi available in our fine dining restaurant—guests want to be able to escape that constant connectivity sometimes, even if just for a few hours.”