Fiber to the Room: New Architecture to Meet the Needs of the Digital Guest

By Michael P. O'Day Vice President, Wireless Networks, Corning Optical Communications | January 15, 2017

There is no doubt that today’s technology-savvy guests want instant check-ins, mobile access to amenities, streaming video with high definition quality, and an in-room experience that rivals the one they enjoy at home. Hotels are now striving to deliver on those demands in new and better ways — and they are doing it through technology investments.

According to Hospitality Technology’s 2016 Lodging Technology Study, 54 percent of hotels stated they plan to spend more on technology this year than in previous years. Of those hotels, 56 percent indicated placing a priority on guest-room technology, with 45 percent focusing on increasing bandwidth. Mobile technologies, including mobile keys and apps, were also found at the top of must-have lists for many major hotel brands.

By investing in these technology initiatives, hotels are looking to provide a better guest experience. But they’re also seeking to differentiate themselves to compete in a crowded space to increase guest loyalty, and drive efficiencies — all while controlling costs.

To achieve these goals, many hotels are directing much of their technology strategies on the guest room. Here we take a closer look at guest-room technology trends we can expect to see more widely adopted and implemented in the coming year.

Mobile Guest Apps and Keyless Entry

The 2016 Lodging Technology Study from Hospitality Technology also indicated that more than 20 percent of hotels are looking at ramping up on-premise mobile apps including keyless smartphone room entry for their guests. After using their mobile phones to check in remotely, guests can use the same phone to open the door to their rooms — bypassing the front-desk check-in process entirely.

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Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.