The Future Techno Guest: Technology is the Most Demanded Amenity in the Guest Room

By Ian Millar Deputy Director of INTEHL, Ecole Hotelière de Lausanne | July 03, 2011

Technology has reached an evangelical level; a recent documentary by the BBC has shown that some people today react to technology the same way some people react to religion. Seeing photos of apple products or the Google logo activated parts of their brain that is only stimulated by attending church and praying. And people addiction to technology is only growing and very fast.

I have heard some people say that the younger generation or gen "y" is technology savvy. I would have to disagree, they are technology dependant. Try to take away a 20 year old person mobile phone and internet access. You can't do it, they would effectively stop "breathing", online = oxygen.

So the future will bring us technology dependant guests who view this as a religion. Just look at the apple example. When we were young we would go camping, round the fire. Now people still go camping, but do this outside the apple store waiting to get the latest apple technology.

So how can a hotel prepare for this ? What will the typical hotel guest look like in the future, how can exceed their expectations, and this is a very difficult answer to give. But before I tackle that I would also like to mention in the nicest possible way, that as an industry we are not good with technology. We have always been a reactive and not a proactive industry when it comes to technology. We take a lot of examples from other industries (the airline industry maybe being the best example) and react years later. And this mindset needs to change before we can ever get technology right for our guests.

To quote Jeremy ward Senior VP IT Kempinski: "The role of the IT Manager is changing from being a reactive "Mr. Fix-IT" to a business enabler and that hotels rely on IT for almost all of its operations and that 100% of its revenue will be processed over the IT systems. Therefore investment needs to be made into the IT resources not just the software and hardware".

And if we look at the recent successful hotels, citizenM would have to be a great example, and that hotel concept is based a lot on technology, its Glasgow property is ranked N° 1 on tripadvisor (25th may 2011), its Amsterdam property won trendiest hotel in the world, again from tripadvisor 2 years in a row, and this from a concept that has no reception, you will not get a bowl of fruit or a chocolate on the pillow, but you can check out in 30 seconds. Look at the "W" concept from starwood, and although this article is not to promote any hotel, the best hotel I have personally ever stayed in, the arch in London, great hotel, great room, superb technology, but also great staff, and here lies the balancing point between technology and people, can technology ever replace humans, no!!, well maybe.

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