The Bottom Line of Next Generation Technology in Hotel Rooms Today

By David Chin Director of Information Technology, Stanford Hotels Corp. | May 19, 2010

In 1969, futurist Isaac Asimov predicted that in 50 years there would be a hotel on the moon.

Now that 2019 is only a few light years away, the idea of a lunar lodge isn't so far out - especially considering the technological advances that have occurred in hotels on this planet in the last decade.

Historically, the hospitality industry hasn't exactly been the leading hotbed of technology. Earlier this millennium, the best you'd usually find was billing and room reservation systems linked using the room TV as a display. And guest services tended to be centralized with terminals at reception and in restaurants.

Beginning in the late '90s, the demand for cutting-edge media entertainment and communication caught the industry by surprise and hoteliers realized that to provide a truly quality stay for their guests, state-of-the-art technology had to become an integral part of the in-room experience.

Now, IT is everywhere. In-room mini-bars are connected to IP networks that add purchases to the bill 30 seconds after a cold beverage is lifted from the fridge. The flat screen TV offers streaming music services with soothing screensaver photos. Even the room key has become part of a technology link that allows guests to buy food in restaurants and access voice mail and wireless Internet portals.

And a new generation of gadget-minded and gear-toting business and leisure guests are forcing hotel operators to continuously -- and at warp speeds -- adopt new information and entertainment technology systems.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.