How the Hotel Room of the Future Will Be Transformed by Mobile Technology

By Joe Schwinger Chief Executive Officer, MeetingPlay | January 20, 2019

Mobile technology has transformed our lives in countless ways, from transportation and entertainment to communication and dating. The hotel is no exception. At this point, most major hotels offer a mobile app for basic services and amenities, and these apps have made the average hotel stay much more convenient. But mobile tech has the potential to deliver much more. In the near future, hotels will tap into vast amounts of data generated by phones and smart, connected homes. Hoteliers will turn this next wave of tech and data into an experience more personalized and comfortable than anything we've seen before. 

Here, we'll explore the technology powering this industry-wide revolution and see some of the first steps taken by the major players. We'll paint a picture of the hotel experience of the future, examine the benefits of new personalization for guests, and show you how to harness this new technology to boost your bottom line.

The State of Hotel Technology Heading Into 2019 

For some industries, mobile apps are a nice-to-have or an add-on to core services. For the hospitality industry, apps have proven to be a major value-add. That's why hotels from Marriott to Mandarin Oriental work to stay on the cutting edge of this technology. When you walk into any modern hotel, you're likely to be able to use an app for check-in, book a spa appointment and order room service. When it comes time to check out, many hotels allow you to pay via their app. Increasingly, customers prefer typing and tapping over picking up the phone or visiting the front desk, and hotels are keeping pace with this change in behavior. 

With the Conrad Concierge app, for example, guests can request room service or a turndown when it's convenient, and arrange valet or a rental car when they're on the move. Conrad (which is now included with the Hilton Honors app) has rolled out some interesting personalized options as well. Guests can adjust their check-in time, and add some extras ahead of time, like towels, bedding or a bottle of champagne on ice - all right from the app. 

At the upper end of the market, Four Seasons rolled out a sleek, well-designed app of their own. With it, guests can request a restaurant reservation - or even a forgotten item like a tube of toothpaste - directly in the app, and hotel staff will take it from there. For many visitors, the experience is about more than their room. Guests are interested in culture, regional cuisine and sightseeing, all of which is taken into consideration with the "Four Seasons Recommends" feature, including everything from interesting local events to selected shopping destinations and restaurant picks, all curated by knowledgeable front desk staff. Similar curation features are a growing trend, saving guests the time, energy and hassle that comes with researching in a new city. 

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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.