Technology and its Impact on the Meetings & Conference Center Industries

By Bruce Fears President, ARAMARK Harrison Lodging | October 28, 2008

It has been decades since the Internet and World Wide Web first opened their virtual doors to the world, and although traditionally the meetings industry has tended to lag in adopting new technology, all of this is changing - and fast.

Today's world of Blackberry addicted executives, tech-savvy meeting planners and gadget-friendly presenters are forcing conference centers to provide state-of-the-art technology as a standard practice - or else risk competition taking their business.

Technology standards within the industry are advancing as quickly as new innovations emerge. Gone are the days when an overhead projector was considered high-tech; wireless connectivity has quickly become the standard. LCD Projectors, video conferencing and computers, once considered luxury pieces of equipment, are now customary.

Technology is here to stay

It's no secret that the trend is constant connectivity whether it's through our computers, cell phones or email-even when we aren't at work. The emergence of BlackBerrys has shown a record number of people reliant upon technology as they strive to be more productive, accessible and efficient.

A recent study conducted by Intel reveals that wireless users were able to complete 52 more minutes per week of connected activities during meetings compared to wired users, thereby increasing their productivity. Conference center locations have, as a result, seen an increased need to stay up-to-date with new, advanced technology as BlackBerry "addicts" demand connectivity on a 24/7 basis.

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.