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Careers in Hospitality

How Technology is Reshaping the Hotel Industry as We Know It

Photo: Courtesy of Eunice Stahl

“You want to cater to as many guests as you possibly can because each guest will want a different level of experience,” said Michael Blake, CEO of Hospitality Technology Next Generation (HTNG), a global not-for-profit trade organization for the hospitality and technology industries. “You’ve got to make sure your technology matches that experience.”

Blake has identified three trends travelers can expect to be see now and in the future.

Personalization and Data Collection

Hotels want to know who’s staying with them and what those visitors like to eat, drink and do. With that knowledge, the hotels can personalize a guest’s experience. For example, if a guest likes a certain drink, such as a soda or specialty water, the room’s fridge will be stocked with a six-pack of those beverages.

Hotels may get the information based on a guest’s previous travel habits – like ordering certain meals, requesting a hypoallergenic pillow or doing specific activities like visiting the spa. Often, they’ll collect information by reviewing a guest’s social media posts.

Blake said these ways of collecting data aren’t necessarily creepy, but they’re definitely a modern approach.

System Integration

The next trend, system integration – when the different technologies talk to each other – doesn’t sound exciting, but hotel guests have come to depend on it. That’s because visitors rely on technology whenever they travel.

“There was a point where it was cool to come to hotels and the hotels had better technology than you had at home. That’s not the case anymore,” Blake said, acknowledging that these days, consumers already have the latest gadgets at home and on portable electronic devices.

The goal is to bring technology people use at home into the hotels. For example, guests want to be able to access their streaming services, like Netflix, on the TV in their room.

“You’re going to see a lot of hotels putting in platforms making it easy to log in to watch your own subscription of Netflix,” he said.

More Wireless Capability

Hotel guests depend on their gadgets including smartphones, tablets and laptops. Keeping those devices charged is a big priority.

“A lot of folks aren’t even using a wakeup call anymore,” Blake said. “They’re just using their phone.”

Hotels are making sure they have plenty of outlets and they’re adapting wireless charging capabilities too, especially since many consumers now have smartphones that can charge wirelessly.

The idea, Blake said, is, “If I can just set my phone down and let it charge while I’m having a conversation, it’ll be nice.”

Listening to Customers

Guests want immediate responses to problems and technology can help improve workflow for hotel staff to resolve issues.

For example, a guest who needs more towels, a toothbrush or a razor can text housekeeping instead of calling the front desk. The text will be logged into housekeeping’s system and hotel team members can track the issue until it’s resolved.

Some hotels already use robots to deliver housekeeping items or room service to a guest’s room.

Blake said more and more hotels will be adapting all of these technologies — even more so since the market is competitive, and they don’t want to lose customers.

“This is all consumer driven,” he said, noting the travel industry monitors consumer insights in many ways, including via user reviews online. While consumers share praise, they also vent their frustrations about their stay.

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