While trends are shifting consistently throughout any given year, the start of a new year marks the perfect timing for us in the hospitality and design industries (and many other industries) to brainstorm and begin executing ideas that will significantly enhance the customer experience. Along with various other design elements, technology is continuing to evolve and change the hospitality industry for the better. Smart technology is one of the key elements that hotels implement in order to not only meet, but exceed, expectations that will ultimately boost the overall travel experience.
There are myriad ways in which smart technology can improve the hotel experience today, all of which make traveling and being away from home easier and more convenient. Through voice command and smart controls that can access multiple devices, hotel guests now have the ability to set up the room to their liking and conveniently access virtual roomservice and quickly address amenity needs.
Specifically, Internet of Things technology provides a central location to access the room’s lighting and air conditioning. In 2020, we anticipate more hotels offering this high-level technology to allow guests to easily adjust these settings. A few hotels have already implemented Amazon Echo and Alexa into their designs, making it as easy as the push of a button on a phone to turn off/on and set these devices. In fact, more advanced versions of the Echo and Alexa are being tested and gradually incorporated into hotels, which allow guests the same device-setting abilities through voice activation.
Another key piece of technology that we expect to see more of in 2020 is interactive maps, which can be incorporated into the guestrooms or public spaces. They allow guests the ability to download an app, which will provide advanced digital concierge services accessible from virtually anywhere.
While these smart hotel technological advancements are strongly welcomed by hotel guests, they also offer benefits to the hotel owners, management and staff, as well. Today, guests like to be met with greater personalization, and hotels want to meet those needs and expectations. If a hotel knows what a particular guest's expectations are, management now has the ability to preset these preferences in the guestroom. From having a favorite radio station or TV show playing to setting the temperature and lighting at personal, preferred settings, hotels can exceed guests’ expectations from the very moment they walk into their room.
Additionally, the implementation of smart technology can actually reduce costs for hotel owners. While guestrooms are not in use, hotel staff are able to adjust the temperature and lighting to energy-efficient settings to prevent wasting any energy and promote a more eco-friendly environment—something that many hotel guests really consider in today’s world.
Smart hotel technology helps hotel staff to easily make repairs, which guests also greatly appreciate. With this technology, repair needs are dialed into electronic devices, which staff can monitor remotely. This allows them to swiftly notify both the hotel guests and the maintenance staff, offering a much more seamless and efficient repair process.
Aside from the efficiency that smart technology can offer hotels, the desire and need to exceed guests’ expectations while also cutting hotel costs will continue to be driving factors in the ongoing smart hotel implementation throughout 2020 and beyond. Because technology will continue to advance unbelievably quickly, the hotel experience has much more to offer worldwide travelers than we’ve seen thus far. Looking to the future, hotels will more easily be able to make their spaces feel truly like a comfortable home away from home, creating a stress-free, even enjoyable, experience that guests can look forward to.
Lisa Haude is president and principal designer at PDG Studios.