Wearable Technology Improves Guest Experience at Hotels

By David Hogan Executive Director of Major Accounts, Heartland Payment Systems | December 20, 2015

Hotels have been at the forefront of offering guests ways to interact with innovative technologies for decades. When the popularity of television was starting to peak, many families did not have their own televisions. However in 1947, The Roosevelt Hilton in New York City became the first hotel in the world to install TVs in guest rooms. Guests were excited to experience the new technology during their stays.

At that time TV was a sought-after amenity – fast forward to now, and many guests don’t even turn them on. Technology has come a long way since then and hotel companies are seeking news ways to stay on the cutting edge of the digital movement. Today, wearable technology is looking like the solution for smoother hotel workflows and better guest experiences.

The use of mobile technology is an obvious solution for on-the-go travelers who can’t be bound to locations by equipment and wires. Smartphones are one of the most popular mobile devices. A recent study from the Pew Research Center found that 64 percent of American adults now own a smartphone – making them a new normal.
Smartphones contributed to our country’s increased technology use and dependency. Technology has become a part of who people are today. Devices and services like mobile phones, tablets and social media have changed the way people interact in their day-to-day lives.

As technology continues to push the envelope, wearables are the next solution for personal and business applications. Aside from basic features like telling time and looking trendy, wearables have many functions that can be used daily to improve their wearers’ personal lives. The Apple Watch can sync directly with a user’s phone and display messages, answer calls and give GPS directions all from a wrist.

Wearables also encourage fitness and good health. For example, smart sport bands can act as personal trainers. Current models have the ability to monitor stride length, distance, step count, and speed, while calculating calories burned, heart and breathing rates, skin temperature and activity intensity.
Sleep is also vital for a healthy lifestyle. Bands like the Garmin vívosmart can be worn while sleeping to monitor movement and rest.

These tech accessories are poised to mimic the adaption of tablets. Tablet sales started out low then soared in a few short years after businesses and consumers realized the utility and value that tablets provided. According to the 2014 Wearable Future study conducted by PwC, one in five Americans already own a piece of wearable tech and sales in the category are predicted to hit $70 billion by the year 2024.

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Hotel Spa: Oasis Unplugged

The driving force in current hotel spa trends is the effort to manage unprecedented levels of stress experienced by their clients. Feeling increasingly overwhelmed by demanding careers and technology overload, people are craving places where they can go to momentarily escape the rigors of their daily lives. As a result, spas are positioning themselves as oases of unplugged human connection, where mindfulness and contemplation activities are becoming increasingly important. One leading hotel spa offers their clients the option to experience their treatments in total silence - no music, no talking, and no advice from the therapist - just pure unadulterated silence. Another leading hotel spa is working with a reputable medical clinic to develop a “digital detox” initiative, in which clients will be encouraged to unplug from their devices and engage in mindfulness activities to alleviate the stresses of excessive technology use. Similarly, other spas are counseling clients to resist allowing technology to monopolize their lives, and to engage in meditation and gratitude exercises in its place. The goal is to provide clients with a warm, inviting and tranquil sanctuary from the outside world, in addition to also providing genuine solutions for better sleep, proper nutrition, stress management and natural self-care. To accomplish this, some spas are incorporating a variety of new approaches - cryotherapy, Himalayan salt therapy and ayurveda treatments are becoming increasingly popular. Other spas are growing their own herbs and performing their treatments in lush outdoor gardens. Some spa therapists are being trained to assess a client's individual movement patterns to determine the most beneficial treatment specifically for them. The July issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these trends and developments and examine how some hotel spas are integrating them into their operations.