Use New Technology to Deliver Authentic Hospitality

By Doug Kennedy President, Kennedy Training Network | April 09, 2017

It has come to pass that the number of phone calls has declined and at most hotels the job of PBX Operator has been folded into the front desk. Guests now receive personal calls directly on their mobile phones, and hotel websites answer most basic questions that guests used to call about such as directions, transportation or the hotel’s fax number; actually, almost no one sends a fax anymore! Meantime, the number of reservations booked online increased while voice reservations declined.

Most recently, however, the decline in phone calls as leveled off – and for a few hotels – even reversed. One reason is that multi-taskers have figured out that using the “click-to-call” feature is easier than trying to book on a smartphone. Other callers surmise they get a lower rate by calling directly. Still others have read conflicting online guest reviews and want to speak directly with someone one-site.

Likewise, the demise of the front desk has yet to happen. Time and time again major brands have installed check-in kiosks in their lobbies only to see minimal usage. While there are a few early adapters, it seems so far the only way to encourage significant usage is to have an employee literally walk the guest over to the machine, kind of defeating the purpose.

Now the latest initiative was launched two or three years ago, when Hilton announced smartphone check-in. It will be interesting to see how quickly guests adapt to this technology, especially once the novelty of trying it out wears off.

One has to also wonder whether keyless locks will eventually raise security questions, especially after a recent event at a four star hotel in Austria. As reported January 30, 2017 by CNN, computer hackers took over the electronic key system and immediately locked out 180 guests on a sold-out night. A few more stories such as these might make travelers start asking questions about such automation.

It is true that a few hotels have completely done away with the front desk. Last year I read an article written by an executive of a hotel technology company stating that in his opinion no one really likes the front desk anyway and that it would soon go the way of the dinosaurs. In the article he touted the successes of several hotels that automated check-in and entirely eliminated the front desk.

Hotel Newswire Headlines Feed  

Joey Yanire
Scott  Watson
Banks Brown
Jerome G. Grzeca
David C. Marr
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.