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 decor. 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.

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Fifi Arisandi

Internal communication is vital for all businesses, particularly in the hospitality industry where constant communication between the staff is crucial. Furthermore, choosing the right communication tools is just as important as the communication itself. Today's mobile technology development has made it possible to use smartphones for a real-time instant communication just like a radio-based walkie-talkie. One of the most obvious benefits of a walkie talkie app is practicality since users don't need to carry around multiple devices to perform different functions that are required to get the jobs done. That said, there are several important things you need to consider first before deciding to switch to a walkie-talkie app. READ MORE

Randa Tukan

Travel is inherently mobile. It is, thus, no surprise that mobile technology has come to play a critical role within the hospitality industry. At the very least, our constant connection with home, work, friends and family is an absolute necessity no matter where we are in the world. But as our mobile technology dependency increases exponentially, so does our expectation as to what this technology can do for us. From tactical to exploratory, the hotel industry is constantly trying to adapt mobile technology to enhance the guest experience. That guest experience is multi-faceted, and the technology applications are accommodating accordingly. READ MORE

Michael Schubach

The digital revolution is upon us. If you are still in doubt about the truth of that statement, just look around (or up from your phone) and the evidence is all there in front of you. Everyone is constantly connected, seeking immediate access to whatever information, product or service they want and need. No longer do questions or requests go unanswered - every answer is available in the palm of your hand. In this article we will examine this consumer shift in the hotel industry and provide a few predictions for the future. READ MORE

Jared Simon

Mobile geo-targeting is enabling the hotel industry to experience its own “Just in Time” revolution. Its use helps craft more accurate consumer profiles through location and behavioral data, which can amplify the effectiveness of current marketing efforts and open up an avenue for new efforts. And if hotels can successfully use mobile geo-targeting and clever marketing, they might be able to drastically improve their ability to fill vacant rooms—even, in some cases, at the last minute. This article delves into mobile geo-targeting and puts it in perspective for the hotel industry. READ MORE

Andy Ellicott

First it was bookings, then it was mobile, and now it's the Internet of Things (IoT) - a trillion dollar consumer market that is poised to disrupt the hospitality industry. Hotel chains such as Marriott, Hilton and Best Western are already piloting IoT initiatives in the pursuit of improving their guests' experiences and reducing energy and maintenance costs. Some are even building custom Alexa devices to fundamentally change the way guests communicate with their staff. But IoT doesn't need to be complicated or eat up an entire hotel budget - boutique hotels can also leverage IoT strategies and see quick return on their investments. READ MORE

Joe Schwinger

Technology impacts every facet of our lives. From smart devices to mobile apps, we rely on innovative products to provide convenient and valuable services each day. Not surprisingly, the application of technology has made its way into the hotel industry. Technological integration has become an expectation of hotel guests and an opportunity for hotel managers to improve their bottom line. Well-known technological applications such as mobile check-in, smart TVs, enhanced Wi-Fi and mobile room keys are already present in many hotels. However, there are other ways to use technology in hotel settings that are less well known. READ MORE

Jason Brown

What's the next big thing in a hotel room? For today's hotel guests, casting personal content from their smart device to the hotel TV is the “next big thing” in innovative technology. It's been proven to work, and better yet, it's been proven to be affordable. Today's hotel guests want their in-room entertainment to be as good or even better than their home experience. They want to watch their own content from all their devices, whether iOS or Android, and most importantly, they want it to be easy. It falls to the hoteliers to keep casting as simple as possible. READ MORE

Carlo Cisco

In the age of social media and connected devices, companies have the ability to know more about current or prospective customers than ever before. In the highly competitive global hotel industry, this gives properties the opportunity to cater to their clientele more efficiently and more personally than was previously imaginable. Mobile applications can also facilitate faster and more seamless communication both on hotel property and when guests are out exploring. The mass adoption of smart phones and mobile applications, are giving way to a new generation of data-driven and on-demand personal touch, delivered directly to your smart phone. READ MORE

Tim Peter

Roughly 20 years ago, investors placed their bets on a variety of technology providers, expecting them to reshape the travel industry. And in the years since, Expedia, Priceline, TripAdvisor and others have done just that. You live in an environment largely shaped by these travel giants. The challenges hotel executives routinely recount in conversations with peers and the press — the increasing cost of distribution, the tyranny of guest reviews, the rapid pace of technological change — can be attributed directly to activities driven by guests and enabled by online travel providers. READ MORE

Johan Terve

Back in the day, guest Wi-Fi services at hotels were handled entirely by the IT department. The primary purpose of a captive portal was to stop the users from getting access to the internet before you could charge them for that service. It used to be all about connecting devices. Now, more than ever before, it is about connecting guests to your brand. Although you still need support from your IT department, guest Wi-Fi services have moved from being an IT tool to becoming a critical business tool. READ MORE

Michael Blake

Technology continues to advance in the 21st century with an increasing expectation that industries stay up-to-date on cutting-edge trends. The fourth industrial revolution we're moving into is making a monumental shift to embrace: intelligent personal assistants, augmented and virtual reality and artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. We've seen hotels already dip their toes in these subjects with voice controls in the guestroom, virtual reality tours in the pre-booking process and delivery robots moving through hotel hallways. This article will zero in on the benefits and uses of AI as well as a look toward the future. READ MORE

Robert Rauch

Today's primary travel market is no longer Matures or Baby Boomers. It is Millennials. How can we keep up with this changing landscape of mobile technology, younger travelers and today's booking patterns? We must use comprehensive personalized content, a loyalty plan that includes customer relationship management (CRM) and optimize our marketing spend by building a community of travelers. We as hoteliers need to think like a customer. And today's customer is increasingly likely to use a mobile phone to do everything. Assuming we all have web sites that are optimized for mobile, do we have a compelling story? READ MORE

Derek Peterson

You know that technology has had a significant impact on the guest experience. Online bookings, mobile check-ins, hotel apps and the prevalence of social media have fundamentally changed the hospitality industry at an unprecedented rate. IT is now front and center to business operations and a top priority for large chain establishments and mom and pop hoteliers alike. In the years ahead, technology will continue to exert its massive influence on hospitality, with the launch of 5G playing a lead role. 5G represents a paradigm shift in connectivity that will catapult hotels into a new era of guest services and operations. READ MORE

Luke Pfeifer

How do guests want to interact with your brand? It used to be we focused on feedback from the guest after they departed to correct any issues before they told friends and family at gatherings. Then it changed to capturing their feedback before departing so they didn't go home and post unfavorable reviews on social platforms and travel review sites. Now of course, with more mobile, technology-minded guests, they can post feedback instantly, perhaps before they've had a chance to understand the entire situation. All the more the reason why hotels and resorts today must be incredibly responsive, in real-time. READ MORE

Ahmad Ouri

The bells and whistles of Connected Room devices are hard not to notice. There are machines literally calling out to you by name. The clamorous attention is well-deserved as the technology has immense possibilities for functionality, ease of use, and work efficiency. But how can your hotel keep from investing in shiny promises that don't deliver or are destined for a museum slot next to the Betamax player? Follow these key adoption practices to get the most value from Connected Room and 'wow' guests with new technology. Connected Room technology is here, and it won't be long before it becomes a guest expectation. READ MORE

Todd Davis

As technology improves, hotels must often re-assess their current technology to see if it stacks up to their needs and to the competition. A common example is switching from a premise-based PMS to a cloud-based system. Taking advantage of the increased revenue opportunities and savings that come from modernizing your hotel management software is essential for any size property. If it's time to upgrade your PMS, you may have a list of questions for any vendor you consider. Here are the answers to some of the top questions hoteliers should ask before switching to a new PMS. READ MORE

Scott Watson

Going mobile isn't just for hotel guests. Mobile technology has rapidly grown into the perfect solution for the busy hotelier. Mobile-powered hoteliers have the freedom to get out from behind the computer screen to interact with associates and guests, while still feeling connected to the continuous flow of data that is critical in making informed decisions that contribute to a hotel's success. And when it comes to organizing and making sense of big data, smart back-office service providers are developing mobile tools to simplify the process of managing hotel operations and putting financial data in the palm of your hand. READ MORE

Scott Schaedle

At the heart of the hospitality industry's tech-driven evolution, one truth remains: customer service reigns. The challenge for hotels, then, becomes navigating the current of mobile technology to keep up with the demands of today's modern traveler while bridging the gap between hotel management, staff and guests - all in the name of white-glove hospitality. Increasing guest satisfaction doesn't start with the guest, but rather the internal players that shape the guest experience, whether they're guest-facing or not. Today's travelers operate in real-time, so your teams should too. READ MORE

Joey Yanire

Hotel guests today know that technology is available to identify them and where they are, what they are interested in, as well as who their friends are. So, they expect their hotel to also know who they are. There are multiple systems that can communicate to provide this recognition, but most properties are not able to convert this data into personalized service. This lack of guest identification costs hotels millions of dollars in lost business as guests continuously explore new hotel brands and independents to find the recognition and personal experience they expect. When guests feel welcome they value their stay, become loyal clients, and generate revenue. Most properties have the capability to provide a personalized experience if they simply combine the data at their fingertips. READ MORE

Coming up in May 2019...

Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.