When investing in new technological solutions for a hotel, many become overly focused on the technical specifications and lose sight of the greater picture: The latest and greatest tech cannot succeed for hospitality if it doesn’t factor in the needs and desires of guests. In fact, a recent independent survey by Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals and Hospitality Net (sponsored by Shiji) found that respondents in charge of information technology budgeting planned to invest more in guest experience-related IT than all others in the next year.
So how might hotels hope to make their property stand out if next year brings us a wave of new guest-experience-based tech rollouts? Of course, one must cover the bases, such as ensuring fast and reliable Wi-Fi. But once the bases are covered, differentiation may be found by thinking outside the box. Indeed, thinking creatively about how a hotel might use tech to improve the guest experience just might be the real differentiator.
There are some hotels that have taken this philosophy to heart, each embracing the latest technology with the explicit purpose of improving the guest experience and a strong focus on the “wow factor.” For example, the NH Collection Berlin Friedrichstrasse, offers business travelers a unique feature with its 3-D projector, used to create holographic presentations. While this will not be used by every guest, it positions it as an ideal host for cutting-edge business minds. Another hotel that has taken a unique approach to visuals is Blow Up Hall 5050 in Poland. This tech-advanced property invites guests to participate in a techno-artistic experience as soon as they arrive, incorporating surveillance-style footage into digital imagery in the lobby.
Robotic assistance also is improving and thus has more practical implementations than 10 or even five years ago. Aloft Cupertino (Calif.) has a robot butler aptly named Botlr that delivers roomservice and will call a guest’s phone when his or her order is ready. And the futuristic chain Yotel has Yobot, a robot that operates a large mechanical arm to store guests’ luggage for them. Finally, Weird Hotel in Japan is staffed primarily by robots, though the human touch is still present with a select staff of human managers and concierges.
Another creative application of technology can be found at the Kameha Grand in Zurich where, in The Space Suite, guests receive a big-screen live feed of NASA’s mission control, which can be viewed from a floating bed.
In terms of scale, any rollout at a property with thousands of rooms is an impressive undertaking. Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas has implemented a tech-forward approach to all of its 4,004 rooms, offering a tablet in each room that acts as a hub for guests, who can use it to book spa appointments or tickets to events, send messages, order food, make reservations and of course control the room as needed.
Tech is not only gadgetry, however. In the digital space, The Standard, High Line in New York’s “virtual lobby” app, The Lobby, allows guests staying at the hotel to chat and connect with each other and meet for a drink or share local tips. We will likely see more digital extensions of the guest experience in the future, whether it be apps, media or web shops.
This is just a small selection of examples of how hotels are using tech to improve the guest experience. However, these examples above can serve as inspiration for your team when you think about how to get outside of the box and differentiate yourselves in a busy market where travelers have a heightened appetite for technology and a digital experience. We at HFTP know that such inspiration can spark great ideas. Be sure to visit the new GX Spotlight website to read about innovative tech integration.
Frank Wolfe is the executive vice president for Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP).