Hotels that fail to embrace technology in 2020 put their hard-won guest loyalty in peril. And without a solid client base, many will fail outright. Guests of all types have grown to expect a minimum level of convenience and efficiency delivered by hotel technology so deciding whether or not to have it is really no decision at all. The question really is – which hotel technology improves the guest experience, and which simply adds cost and creates issues. Below we have outlined ten technology trends in hotels, identifying which ones add value and which simply don’t.
1. Check-In Kiosks – WINNER
We expect to see a lot more hotel lobby kiosks in 2020 to allow guests to check themselves in. Research proves that travelers prefer a self-check-in option. That doesn’t mean no more front desk, just a smaller one for those guests who want or require a higher degree of contact.
2. In-Room Tablets – LOSER
The idea of placing a tablet in a room to engage the guest was a good idea in 2005 when smartphones lacked much of the capability they have today. Smartphones now deliver more capability without the physical liability and housekeeping hassle of an in-room tablet. The era of the in-room tablet has passed – and so should you on this outdated concept.
3. SMS Concierge – WINNER
The advent of a text-driven concierge to welcome guests, respond to service requests and answer a host of questions has allowed hotels to increase the level of guest service without adding expensive labor to do it. Guests are familiar and comfortable with using text messages and hotels enjoy improving guest satisfaction at an economical cost.
4. Robots – LOSER
Unless your property has a budget for expensive guest entertainment – you’ll want to wait on adding robots to the hotel. Although the promise is there that one day C-3PO will bring your heavy bags to the room, the rolling trashcan sized robots of today largely deliver water or toiletries to guests who want to experience the novelty of it.
5. Mobile Key – WINNER
Not sure if this qualifies as a hotel technology “trend” or simply the direction the industry is going, but if your hotel doesn’t already have digital keyless entry, the time has come. Research points out that mobile key has become an expectation of guests who are increasingly mindful of the plastic waste hotels create and are accustomed to using their smartphones for all things access-related such as mobile boarding passes at the airport and paying for coffee at Starbucks.
6.Virtual Reality – LOSER
Like robots, the potential is clear for virtual reality in hotels – but the experience doesn’t pay off against the expectations. One major holdup for this technology is the need for a headset to utilize it. Early versions of a cardboard headset that used your smartphone to deliver the video content just haven’t met expectations of what people think “virtual reality” should be.
7. IOT (Internet of Things)|Smart Hotels – WINNER
Like mobile key, there really is no question that the smart hotel room is the future. Most hoteliers don’t realize that the technology exists today to connect power management in the room to a guest smartphone, allowing the guest to control the temperature, television, lighting, music and curtains through an app that usually serves as their mobile room key as well.
8. Biometrics | Facial Recognition – LOSER
Unlike the successful transition from home to hotel like we’ve seen with voice activated assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, the implementation of biometrics and facial recognition in hotels has fallen flat with travelers. Americans are less comfortable with sharing personal details such as their fingerprint or iris scan with a hotel simply to access services or check-in. Perhaps Hollywood is to blame for the conspiracy theories guests come up with but the ‘Big Brother’ aspect of biometrics and facial recognition in hotels is a no-go for now.
9.Cloud-Based PMS – WINNER
The advent of nimble, flexible, cloud-based Property Management Systems has made improving operations and the guest experience much easier for hoteliers. Old style PMS platforms that charge outrageous fees for integration with other hotel technologies are on the extinction list. If your property is trapped under one of those heavy rocks – you should be planning your escape in 2020 to a far more modern option that makes connecting your entire hotel fast, easy and cheap.
10. Augmented Reality – LOSER
Similar to Virtual Reality, there is a lot of promise in Augmented Reality for hotels but the experience today is not mature enough to merit the investment. Limited mostly to an expensive entertainment option and novelty, few guests have ever used AR and require a great deal of education to understand what it is and how to use it, making the cost and investment in time to high compared to the potential benefit that might develop at a later date.