Hotel Technology: Future Trends
With technology getting obsolete by the seconds, one wonders if there is any relevance to the future. Especially for the trendy hospitality industry, where the race is to compete in fulfilling guest expectations. These expectations are related to the product, its character and personality. Hotel chains spend a tremendous amount of time and money in researching user-friendly technology to remain competitive. Hotels are going hi-tech in every area of guest experience.
A quick review of the use of technology in hotels reveals an interesting conclusion. Hotels, which do not keep pace with technology, may lose their guest base while at the same time, a traveller who does not keep himself updated with technology may feel out of place in hi-tech hotels. Most city hotels are well equipped with latest, state of the art technology. The future hotels might see hotel rooms with much more advanced technology. For example, hotels are now adopting biometrics technology. This technology uses voice, fingerprints or retina scan for personal identification, replacing the room key and combination safe in the rooms. One has to glare at the door to get it opened or, touch the biometric sensor to open the safe.
Practically all good hotels have high definition television sets, but with the advent of 3D revolution, hotels will have to switch to new technology sooner than later. The same technology will also be useful for telephonic and video conferencing.
Touch screen telephones, compressor free mini bars, in-room environment control, electronic do not disturb signs etc, have now become as part of granted features in the rooms. The introduction of Control l4, is going to further revolutionize the hotel systems. Imagine walking to the door of the room, the system detects you, turns on the lights, TV, sets temperature of the room, and awaits your arrival at the door. The TV starts to play a welcome message or introduces the room features as you enter the room. The system also manages the wake call and do not disturb process.
Future hotels are going to use room window glass as a TV screen. A switch will make the glass opaque and a projection system from the ceiling will start your favourite programme on the screen with surround sound digital speakers.
Today, hotels offer high-speed wireless broadband internet connectivity in the rooms with interface to the TV. Some hotels however, offer wireless internet in the entire hotel, in every nook and corner. One can use the laptop anywhere. Hotels also offer colour-printing facilities from the laptop at a central printer in the Business Centre.
Room motion sensors detect motion and body temperature, and set the room parameters to suit your body needs. If no motion is detected beyond a specified period, it turns off the air-conditioning, lights and TV. Timer settings are crucial for success of this system.
For those who need to relax their muscles, hotels offer an electric massage chair in the rooms. No need to go to the spa for time strapped guests needing a quick fix.
For satisfying a demanding hi-tech traveller, the art is to anticipate needs and tailor the product with such elements that satisfies these needs and wants. A few years back an hotelier could not have imagined a guest carrying his virtual office in his laptop, or his music collection in his i-Pod or MP3. Well, today he does. Hotels are therefore providing connectivity of these gadgets to the TV and sound system. Hotels are also providing connectivity cable to connect digital camera to the TV. The guest can view the quality of pictures in the privacy of his room.
The bathrooms in hi-tech hotels are a delight to the eye and experience. Most hotels have frost-free mirrors, Multiple Volt shaver sockets, temperature controlled Jacuzzi. Rain shower and aqua massage systems. Heated seats for water closet and bidet are provided for additional comforts. A small colour TV at the foot of the Jacuzzi and extension of room telephone. What one would see in the future is that the mirror will double as a computer screen and one could watch mails while soaking in the bath tub, sounds interesting!.
The biggest challenge for the hotelier is to keep pace with technology. Implement technology in a cost efficient manner and to know where to draw a line. While being Hi-Tech sounds good, the concept also has a feel good factor, one must understand what and how much should be adopted in a hotel.
This is just a glimpse of different shades of technology being used or about to debut in hotels across the globe.
The ultimate quality of the experiences and degree of satisfaction of hundreds of guests and visitors depends upon judicious and right use of technology. The smallest glitch in the system is enough to ruin the experience. The art is to anticipate the needs of tomorrow and provide them today, leaving one to wonder what happens the day after.
By Ram Gupta