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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Coming up in June 2019...

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.