Top 6 Hotel Technology Trends of 2021
Hotel guests today are no strangers to technology, and the things that were considered innovative or futuristic just a few years ago — like smart phones and IoT technology — are now commonplace in their day-to-day lives and homes. That means that tech is no longer seen as a luxury when they’re deciding which hotel to stay at — it’s an expectation.
Now, smart hoteliers are shifting their mindsets when it comes to how technology is used throughout their lobbies, guest rooms, and websites. It’s less about novelty and wow factor and more about enhancing guests’ visits, making them feel at home, incorporating innovations with lasting effects, and creating a frictionless experience from the moment they visit a hotel’s website to when they return home to write that glowing review.
Here are the top six hotel technology trends that smart hoteliers are using to stay competitive and elevate guest experience.
Advanced Guest Apps
In 2019, most hotel guests come carrying a smartphone or tablet. They also want — and even expect — the most seamless experience possible during every step of the travel process. Advanced, branded guest apps are delivering on every front, transforming the way guests plan, book, and experience their trips.
Guests everywhere are discovering how simple and powerful guest apps can be. With just a few swipes, guests can easily enjoy:
- Mobile check-in and check-out
- 360-degree room tours
- Scheduling amenities visits
- Ordering from room service
- Access to a virtual concierge
- Convenient virtual payments
- And so much more
Some hotels are even incorporating mobile room keys into their apps, allowing guests access to their room simply by presenting their phones at the door — just one more way hotel technology is helping reduce friction points.
Smart Guest Rooms
In-room technology for hotels has advanced rapidly over the last few years, especially with recent IoT developments. Now, hotels brands around the world, including Marriott and Hilton, are beginning to integrate smart technology in guest rooms to create digitally driven environments focused on seamless guest experiences.
Smart hotel rooms utilize a variety of IoT devices and automated systems, including voice-activated technology like Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. This makes opening the curtains, dimming the lights, turning on the TV, or adjusting the thermostat as simple as giving a voice command or swiping on the in-room tablet. IoT technology also empowers guests to book events, order room service, or request information with just the sound of their voice.
More and more guests today are embracing the hotel lobby as their “third space” — a place to hang out, socialize, get work done, and more. That’s why hotels everywhere are transforming their lobbies into welcoming and innovative spaces through technology. Now, lobbies aren’t simply an area to welcome guests to their room. While still featuring stunning design to welcome guests and create an unforgettable entrance, they’re now multi-functional areas designed to deliver the ultimate guest experience, offering:
- A place to socialize, eat, and drink
- Wireless charging for mobile devices
- Ultra-fast Wi-Fi
- Semi-private work pods
- Spaces with sound masking technology for privacy
- And more
The hospitality industry is abuzz about the capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI). Modern advancements in AI are playing a role in elevating guest experience once they’ve arrived at the hotel, such as through voice activated technology in smart rooms. But AI for hotels is also playing a significant role during the booking process and even behind the scenes in the forms of sophisticated chatbots; personalized, data-driven marketing; and data aggregation and analytics.
Perhaps the most critical function of AI for hotels today is the collection of immense amounts of data from customers. Everything from the information they actively provide to the behavior they exhibit on-site can be monitored, collected, and aggregated by artificial intelligence. This can then be analyzed by human staff to identify patterns, discover actionable insights, and create highly specific guest profiles. This can lead to more targeted advertising, highly customized guest experiences, and increased brand loyalty.
Customers today value simplicity and convenience more than ever. Self-service kiosks put the power back in the customers’ hands by allowing them to choose how they wish to check in. If they prefer face-to-face interaction, it’s available for them, but if they prefer to simply grab their key and be on their way, self-service kiosks are an excellent option. These kiosks can:
- Provide shorter check-in and check-out lines
- Create more seamless guest experiences
- Help collect valuable customer data for analytics and marketing
- Reduce labor costs
- Enhance customer perceptions
- And more
Over the last decade, hotels everywhere have started embracing the benefits of digital signage, discovering how effective it can be in the world of hospitality. Time and again, digital signage has proven to enhance the guest experience and elevate customers’ perceptions of hotel’s brands. In fact, customers now expect digital signage in hotels in one form or another, including:
- Self-service check-in kiosks
- Digital wayfinding stations
- Video walls
- Menu boards
- Entertainment displays
- Promotional signage
- Digital concierge stations
- And much more
Some hotels are even taking digital signage a step further, creating mind-blowing displays and unforgettable sights. Two incredible examples of digital signage’s capabilities are the experiential welcome wall at Sofitel Paris Baltimore Tour Eiffel hotel in Paris and The Cosmopolitan lobby digital art installation in Las Vegas.
This list only scratches the surface of what’s to come in terms of hotel technology, and at the rate of innovation today, the possibilities truly are endless. Some hoteliers are incorporating augmented reality to help guests explore potential attractions, a trend that will likely grow as AR continues to evolve, and others are using virtual reality to give guests truly 3D tours of their accommodations.
There are even a few highly ambitious hotels (such as the Henn na Hotel in Nagasaki, Japan and the FlyZoo Hotel in Hangzhou, China) are attempting to use robots for everything from delivering refreshments to helping guests check in — with mixed success. This goes to show that while innovation is critical in the hospitality industry, it’s important to implement technologies that will perform and continue to have positive effects in the future.
While new innovations hit the market each day, these six hotel technologies are likely to remain relevant for many years to come. Technology is always advancing, and customers’ expectations for simplicity, convenience, and frictionless experiences are consistently rising in tandem. So, while guest apps, smart rooms, and tech-enabled lobbies will likely look different twenty years from now, it’s clear that 2019 is the beginning of a few trends that are here to stay.
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