Hotel Technology: How to spot the difference between business essentials and expensive tech gimmicks

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The rapidly expanding world of technology is having a significant impact on the hotel industry. A new innovation is always around the corner and, most of the time, hotels can put it to use in their business. Whether it’s to improve operations or guest experience, technology can lend a big helping hand to property owners and managers.

However, investing in new technology can often be an expensive budgeting decision. Usually you’ll have to increase your room rates accordingly. It’s vital to know what technology is worth investing in, and what will just be a gimmick burning a hole in your hotel’s budget.

Will the technology attract more guests and increase bookings? Or will the higher price of rooms outweigh the pull of cutting-edge gadgets?

Some hotels have gone all out to give guests ultimate convenience, leaving no stone unturned in the hope a ‘five-star’ experience will persuade travellers to book. Others have been more circumspect, preferring to rely on proven technology systems that are more measurable. After all, what use is a robot in your hotel if you don’t have a sound distribution strategy to ensure travellers are actually finding your hotel?

Let’s take a look at some of the most impressive technology implementations in hotels today and discuss the value of each, before looking at some guaranteed revenue boosters…

The world’s most innovative hotel technology

Keyless door entry

This type of technology allows hotel clerks to use NFC, RFID, or Bluetooth to pair guests’ phones with electronic room locks and eliminate the need for a physical door key.

While convenient, it is expensive and not currently standardised across the industry. There are also some potential pitfalls. What if a guest had forgotten their phone charger but can’t get back into their room because their phone is out of battery? What if you are travelling with multiple people? Is a key zapped to all their phones?

Ultimately it doesn’t seem like this technology would be a significant extra incentive for guests to book at the hotel, at least for now, considering it would come with a higher price tag for hoteliers.

Robots

There are many examples of robots in hotels, that can greet and check-in guests, handle luggage, provide information, and perform concierge duties.

The benefit of robots is that they’re a huge novelty at the moment and could be a driving force for bookings. They also don’t require wages, meaning the hotel can eventually spend even more money on enhancing the guest experience. The downside is if anything goes wrong, it may take a lot of time and money to fix, and prove inconvenient for a guest who then has to wait for a real person to come and help them. There’s also the risk of alienating some guests with large scale uptake of robotic technology because there are many travellers who still enjoy the human touch.

The efficiency and range of uses for robots will only increase as time goes by. With artificial intelligence on the rise, hotels should seriously consider investing in this technology. However, the next few years should be approached with caution.

Geolocation

Some hotels are using geolocation apps to track guests through every part of the hotel. For instance, if a guest is near the gym they may receive a text message offering a special service or discount. Likewise if they’re relaxing near the poolside bar etc.

While it may seem like a smart and cutting-edge strategy, it’s quite possible guests will find this invasive and annoying. On top of that, building and running these apps is expensive and doesn’t add all that much to your business. It’s certainly not going to be a big booking incentive.

In-room technology

Many hotels are outfitting rooms with tablets or iPads to allow guests to adjust room temperature, order room service, request housekeeping, adjust the lighting, control the TV, and more.

This is probably going to be the biggest influencer on bookings when it comes to guest-operated technology in a hotel. All of this is relatively affordable and provides a level of control and convenience guests really enjoy experiencing on their trip.

Most hotels should be able to implement at least some semblance of this technology and it will be worth it in the long-term because it’s what guests expect from a modern hotel stay.

Staff technology

Improving staff efficiency can have a flow-on effect across the business. Saving man-hours and improving guest experience will save time, money, and potentially boost return bookings. Connecting staff to portable devices such as the iPod Touch will allow staff to be more responsive to guest and general hotel needs.

Again, this is relatively cheap but can have a lasting positive effect on the profitability of your hotel so it’s something all hotels should be executing.

Tech gimmicks

Some technology is perhaps too smart for its own good, to the point where it becomes superfluous. Here are some examples of technology that may not be worth it:

  • Luxury shuttle services – Some guests may pay more to be driven to the airport in a Tesla but many won’t, and the price and upkeep of expensive shuttle vehicles won’t help your hotel.
  • Bathroom televisions – The logistics of this is difficult to start with, but concealing a flatscreen behind the mirror seems neither practical or convenient.
  • Clever buttons – For example, a button to turn the shower glass from clear to frosted and back again just seems pointless and if it’s adding money to the room rate, would a guest really want to pay for that?
  • Heat-sensors – These can be used to alert a staff member if a room is empty or not, so they can perform housekeeping duties. A do not disturb sign and a simple knock are probably still functional ideals, especially if you’re taking a budget into account.

Essential hotel technology

It’s hard to completely gauge the effectiveness of some technology hotels invest in. every traveller is different and will have different standards or requirements. While making the guest experience as exciting and convenient as possible is paramount, this can often still be done by hard work and superior customer service from staff.

By far the most important factor for a hotel is making sure their property is visible to travellers, presents a valuable booking choice for them, and using them to maximise hotel revenue.

Fortunately, there is a range of essential hotel technology that can help manage your business effectively.

Channel management technology

Appropriating a channel manager will allow your hotel to connect to multiple OTAs, increasing your distribution and reducing double-bookings.

Read more channel management blogs by clicking here.

Booking engine technology

Your own booking engine will give you direct bookings via your website with no commissions payable. You can also set exclusive extras and promotions.

Read more direct bookings blogs by clicking here.

Hotel website technology

Every hotel needs a beautiful, functional website that is optimised for mobile and SEO. This ensures guests are finding your website and staying there to make a booking instead of looking elsewhere.

Read more hotel website design blogs by clicking here.

Market intelligence technology

Real-time pricing intelligence will let you watch and analyse your competitors and make smart choices about your own rates, to optimise your revenue management.

Read more revenue management strategy blogs by clicking here.

Global distribution technology

Connecting to a global distribution system (GDS) will put your hotel on a more diverse and broad range of booking ‘maps’, to give your hotel the best chance of being found by as many people as possible.

Read more global distribution technology blogs by clicking here.

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