How Electronics Can Make Your Hotel a True Comfort Zone

By Kalen Willis Senior Interior Designer, Hatchett Hospitality | July 17, 2011

In our gadget-obsessed world, technology has grown from a convenient amenity to an essential element of every hotel's design and services. The challenge is to blend high-tech with high-touch – namely, to use cutting-edge science in a meaningful and memorable way that enhances every guest visit.

Let's look at nine ways you can meet that challenge, attract more guests, and justify higher room rates. Most of these are relatively easy and economical to consider for either new construction or renovation, although a few are more exotic, more expensive, and require considerable advance planning.

The Internet: Your First Impression

Guests used to get their first impression of a property when they arrived on-site and saw the hotel exterior or lobby. Today, opinions are formed much earlier and much quicker – typically on the web as travelers increasingly use their computers or smartphones to search for a hotel and to make a reservation.
Your website must tell your story visually and "sell" your property effectively, so invest in professional photography. Shots taken by a relative or friend at no charge may turn out to be a very expensive favor if they cause you to lose rather than attract business.

In contrast, strong photos will give visitors to your website plenty of reasons for becoming visitors to your property. You can use still shots or you can create a more dramatic video tour.
Whichever technique you select, your pictures should inform – by showing people what they can expect to see and to experience at your hotel, including:

  • The exterior, lobby, and public spaces
  • Various guest room types
  • Special areas such as meeting rooms, lounge, pool, fitness center, and meal service
  • Popular nearby attractions such as tourist sites, shopping areas, restaurants, beaches, and business districts
  • Airport transportation options such as taxi and shuttle services, with schedules
  • And be sure to include a map showing distances and transportation options to various destinations.
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Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.