Interactive Hotel Design is All About Knowing Your Target Guest

By Eric Rahe Principal, BLT Architects | November 12, 2017

Donna D. Lisle, AIA LEED AP and Doug Soehl RA contributed to this article

The advent of social media brought with it an important shift in the hospitality industry. Any guest’s experience might be amplified to thousands of potential customers, and you want to be sure that your hotel stands out for the right reasons.

Furthermore, technology has increased competition. According to Euromonitor International, the travel industry will have the highest online payment percentage of any industry by 2020, often occurring through third-party sites that display your competitors alongside you. As a result, many hoteliers are looking to stand out by engaging customers and the experience has become more interactive than ever.

Interactive Technology

But what does this mean, really? Not only do our definitions of interactivity vary, but so also do our preferences. As such, the key to a truly interactive hotel experience is to understand your target customers and how they want to be engaged. This is especially true when it comes to hotel technology, which offers near infinite options to tailor your experience to your guests.

For hotels catering to business travelers, such tech is key to streamlining quick and efficient service. For these travelers, check-in kiosks are still king, but we are already moving towards even more advanced options. Hilton Hotels and Resorts, for instance, has begun introducing ‘mobile-enabled room key technology’ allowing guests to bypass the front desk entirely in favor of using a cell phone as a room key. Similarly, Near field communications, still in its infancy, can ensure that a preset room temperature, lighting, and even window shade level will be ready - per a traveler’s specifications - as soon as they walk through the door. This level of control can be a real selling point to experienced travelers who know exactly what they are looking for.

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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.