Guests want smart technology, but security concerns remain

More than 96 percent of hotel guests travel with a smartphone and nearly 46 percent of guests travel with at least two smart devices, representing a 10 percent increase in just two years, according to Hotel Internet Services, indicating an increasing need for hoteliers to adopt mobile device-compatible services. 

HIS conducted a study of more than 500 guests and 200 hoteliers in order to determine the impact that new technologies such as voice control and online content streaming are having on the hospitality market and hotel revenues. Following a similar survey conducted by HIS in 2016, the new “Putting the Guest Back into Hotel Entertainment” research demonstrates how guest demands for enhanced connectivity, instant service and enhanced convenience have significantly risen over just the past two years.

Using their Devices 

More than 80 percent of guests indicated a desire to wirelessly cast content from their devices onto guestroom televisions and more than 90 percent of surveyed hoteliers agreed that today's guests would prefer to be offered wireless casting abilities, rather than traditional video-on-demand services.

With hotels around the world universally experiencing diminishing profits from VOD, the survey points to entertainment platform functions that hoteliers can deploy alongside wireless casting in order to regain these revenues. For example, more than 60 percent of surveyed guests indicated that they would like the ability to order amenities and services via the guestroom television, if given the option. Sixty-five percent of guests would like to be able to surf the internet on the TV entertainment system and more than 81 percent of hoteliers believe guests would be interested in the option. 

Another 61 percent of guests also indicated a preference to access information on available hotel services, such as restaurant hours, via the guestroom television.

“With technology changing rapidly and with an increasing array of solution options, hoteliers can often be at a loss as to which platforms are capable of enhancing the guest experience, while also providing a good return on investment,” HIS CEO Gary Patrick said in a statement.

Security Concerns

But guests are still concerned about security — 65 percent of guests are “highly concerned” about inputting usernames and passwords into a guestroom television app, according to HIS. 

This concern is highlighted by a recent report about security and voice technology in hotels released by Volara, a voice hub designed for the hotel industry.

"As voice becomes the preferred interface for guest and staff interactions with technology in hotels, there must be safeguards in place to ensure that no data falls into the wrong hands,” Volara CEO David Berger said in a statement.  “Hoteliers have a duty to protect their guests personally identifiable information and we’ve built our technology atop the leading natural language processing platforms to ensure they meet this duty.

“The same is true for protecting hotels’ proprietary data from disclosure,” he continued. “We don’t recommend integrating sensitive hotel technology solutions directly into the large natural language processing platforms [because] this could expose sensitive, proprietary hotel information, such as guest profiles, operational practices or guest communications. Hoteliers are understandably concerned that data may be used to remarket to guests or for other non-hotel purposes.”

Volara released important questions to ask providers when shopping for a voice technology product in light of privacy and security concerns: 

1. How are you protecting the privacy of my guests? Are recordings associated with our guests’ personally identifiable information?

2. How are you protecting the security of my hotel’s proprietary data? Are there any integrations with a platform that may use this data for remarketing? If so, how are you protecting my guests from this practice?

3. Many travelers have unique accents or dialects that aren’t well understood by popular voice assistants. Does your solution improve the accuracy of interactions? 

4. How are you measuring return on investment? How will your solution drive efficiencies and increase revenues?

5. How will voice technologies impact my guests’ experiences? How do I ensure my hotel maintains the relationship with its guests? Can I easily change and update interactions with my guests once deployed?

6. How much flexibility do I have to change natural language processing providers over time? Or select different providers for different properties?

7. How is data presented back to hotel management? Is it available in real time and in aggregated reporting to enable improved decision making?

8. How does this scale? Will the solution be brand consistent, yet locally tailored, across my entire portfolio?

“When engaging guests with voice technology, especially in private areas like guestrooms, it is important that hoteliers understand how the technology works,” Berger said. “Ensuring that the solution is protecting guests’ privacy is not optional. Secondary, but also important to achieve the return on investment, is ensuring that guest requests are properly received and routed to the hotel’s existing task-management software for seamless communication and collaboration. Without the right integrations, even the best product can add complexity and cost. Hoteliers need to make sure any vendor they consider has the integrations they need to set their team up for success.”