TOP Hotel Technology Trends in 2012

By Ted Horner Managing Director, E. Horner & Associates | May 27, 2012

The rise and rise of consumer technology and the increasing take-up of this technology by our guests combined with the shorter life cycles of this technology creates considerable challenges for both operators and owners of hotels. In the past we stayed in a guest room to experience technology that we could not get at home but now this changed completely and in most instances the reverse is true today where what we have at home is far superior to anything that is in hotel guestroom.

This article outlines where his technology is headed and how hotels may for the first time be able to embrace the next generation of consumer technology and with selected investment in this technology gain a competitive advantage.

1. The iPad Revolution

This device in my opinion is going to redefine how guests are going to use technology in hotels in the future particularly in the guestroom. Consider these points.

a). It is the fastest selling consumer electronic device in history with Gartner Group predicting that Apple will sell 100 million units by 2012
b). iPad is the first video centric guest internet device
c). It has a very simple GUI (Guest User Interface) and new users both young and old are able to use it almost immediately with little or no training
d). IPad is already placing huge demands on Hotel Wi-Fi systems consuming much more bandwidth and data than in the past with people doing emails etc...

While I have focused on the iPad we cannot forget other tablet devices that are also gaining market share namely the Samsung Galaxy, plus the new Kindle Fire and of course other smart phones that use the Android operating system from Google.

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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.