â€œHotels should focus on making room technology easy to understand, accessible and relevant. Do not focus the efforts only on creating â€˜funâ€™technology such as mood lighting and such. Itâ€™s important to pay attention to the devices used by guests and add tech features, which can assist in an improved hotel experience.â€
From cathode-ray tubes to flat-screen televisions to smart screens. From dial-up Web access to Wi-Fi.
In-room technology in hotels has evolved over the years, and it will only continue to do so. But what are the changes hoteliers can expect next? And in an industry often accused of being behind the curve when it comes to technology, what do hoteliers need to keep top of mind to add to the guestroom experience?
Five leaders responded to these questions in this Hotel News Now virtual roundtable. This is what they had to say.
From where it stands today, where do you see in-room technology headed in the next few years?
|Mehul Patel, chairman and CEO of NewcrestImage
â€œTechnology, notably Bluetooth, will increasingly make rooms more â€˜openâ€™â€”both literally and virtually. For example, mobile technology will allow guests to unlock and enter their rooms. And after they are in their room, guests will open their room to the virtual world with customized entertainment content and room management. Because todayâ€™s travelers have their own mobile devices, it enables us as hoteliers to provide them with technology that makes their stay with us smarter and simplerâ€”â€˜smarterâ€™ thanks to Bluetooth and â€˜simplerâ€™ by facilitating their use of personalized content in movies, television and music.â€
|Joachim HÃ¶gefjord, managing director, and GÃ¼l Heper, commercial manager at HTL Hotels
â€œWe believe itâ€™s most important to stay relevant to the guests and their needs. In-room technology is not about filling a hotel room with all possible gadgets; it is about enhancing the guest experience and especially simplifying the stay at the hotel.â€œWe need to continue looking at existing behaviors and identify the right needs, what devices are the guests bringing with them and review how to incorporate this in the room in order to provide a better guest experience. One given area, where we already supply device independent solutions is in terms of in-room entertainment. Why equip the hotels with expensive hotel TV systems with on-demand movies when most guests today can and will be using their own devices to stream and mirror everything from movies to HBO and Netflix for free with their existing subscriptions?â€œMobile access to the room is of course also an area that will continue to develop and be more and more standardized. Today there are few hotels and chains that are fully offering this to all guests independent of distribution channel. From the start we decided that this should be one of our standard features, and already in spring of 2014 we launched our own app with mobile key.â€œOf course there is a lot of talk about in-room control systems for lighting, heating, shades, entertainment controls, etc. They might grow in the future, but at the same time it is generally a learning curve to handle them, and with guests staying in general 1.5 days in a room, it might add more complexity to your stay than added value.â€
|Bashar Wali, president of Provenance Hotels
â€œIn-room technology will focus on connectivity for the travelerâ€™s personal phone, tablets and computer. Guest-provided media will stream to TVs, USB outlets will be within an armâ€™s length away from the bed and desk in every guestroom. Personal technology has surpassed in-room hotel technology to the point of no return. With annual upgrade cycles for consumer technology devices, hotels can no longer spend enough to catch up. Hoteliers, stop implementing technology of the day and just let travelers have power outlets, free, fast Wi-Fi and access to their own media.â€
|Anna Blount, market research manager of MMGY Global
â€œWhen asked which device they are most likely to watch television or cable movies on during a hotel stay, 86% of travelers chose the in-room television, while 13% chose their personal laptop, 6% their tablet and 4% their smartphone.â€œSimilarly, 84% of travelers said they were most likely to watch pay-per-view movies on the in-room television during a hotel room stay, while 9% chose their personal laptop, 9% their tablet and 3% their smartphone. Although in-room television is still dominate, we expect usage of personal laptops and tablets to consume in-room entertainment to increase considerably over the next five years.â€
|Euan McGlashan, co-founder and managing partner of Valor Hospitality Partners
â€œTechnology will soon control the entire guestroom, and thatâ€™s a good thing. A guest will be connected to every element of the in-room experienceâ€”for example, entry locks, television, music, lighting, temperature, roomservice and in-room deliveries or servicesâ€”through simple switches, remote controls and hand-held devices, which are either theirs or provided by the hotel.â€
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