One of the things people love about staying in hotels is the personal touches that go into making sure everything is just-so and guests are satisfied. As someone who travels frequently for business, I admit that it’s sometimes nice to get away from home for a little while and come back to fresh linens every night, to be able to call down to the front desk whenever I need something, and to not have to worry about household maintenance while I’m away. People love staying in hotels because they’re an escape from their everyday existence.
At the same time, I often find myself yearning to return home at the end of a long trip. Nothing beats the personalization of one’s own home.
A few years ago, there was a clear divide between home and away; one could choose between comfort and convenience, but no hotel, no matter how lavish, could match the comforts of home. Now, thanks to smart devices such as digital personal assistants traditionally found in private homes, the two are coming together in the hospitality industry to offer travelers an exciting new hotel stay experience.
Many hotel rooms are already decked out with the latest and greatest technologies, such as high-definition flat screen televisions and bedside tablets, but the smart hotel room offers something more. A new breed of hotels are emerging that emphasize connectivity and personalization, putting more power into the guests’ hands. Here are some of the ways smart home technology is being implemented by hotels to offer guests a more personalized and connected stay.
In 2005, The New York Times put out an article predicting that some of the smart technology used in hotels at the time allowing guests to set the temperature, dim the lights, and personalize their music and television tastes, would soon be picked up by more households throughout the country. It’s safe to say that prediction came true, with personal assistants like the Amazon Echo now a fixture in many homes.
Now, hotel rooms are following suit and upping the ante even more to offer guests an experience that rivals the comforts of home. The UK’s largest hotel chain, Whitbread, recently opened a line of budget hotels that put power and convenience into the hands of the guests- literally. Guests can control everything from checking in and out, setting the room temperature, changing the tv channel, and ordering meals all from an app on their smartphone. An American hotel chain, Starwood, is utilizing Apple technologies, as well as virtual reality, to customize hospitality for guests- they even have a creative design lab at their Stamford, Connecticut headquarters to test out new technologies.
According to travel industry site, Skift, “The Smart Hotel isn’t about a tablet by the bed that you can’t figure out how to use to open the drapes. It’s about real time data and connectivity.” Connectivity is key in contributing to an amplified guest experience. The smart hotel room of the future, Skift explains, allows for personal and professional development by helping guests connect to their surroundings. It will use the Internet of Things (IoT) to plug into a city’s data platforms and share relevant information such as events and new restaurant openings. The technology already exists with open data and IoT; it will just be up to hotels to pioneer these technologies and translate them into a refined guest experience.
Of course, no hotel, no matter how advanced and tech-savvy, will ever compare to the comforts and joys of being at home surrounded by family, but I am excited to see how smart technologies play out in the hospitality industry.