Next Generation Hotels: 4 Technological Must Haves.
Tuesday, 13th October 2009
The hospitality industry has always been renowned as a place of technological innovation, guests readily embrace technology upgrades within hotels as traditionally, it is part of the decision making process consumers undertake when deciding on which hotel to visit.

Synovate, a research company, recently identified "46% of people do little research when choosing a hotel; they find a few comparable choices and select the most suitable one."

Additionally, an overall 47% of people agree that a hotel must cater to their technology needs before they book it, including 50% of men and 44% of women. Acknowledging this information hotels continue to invest in technology as it helps differentiate their brand and stand out in a highly competitive and saturated market.

Below outlines 4 technological innovations that are being pioneered by hotels. The only challenge they face is finding a way to integrate these devices to create a better guest experience.

What does Your Brand smell like:

Hotels are beginning to create and deploy signature scents throughout both public spaces and individual rooms to anchor its guests' experience and memories of their stay with that particular aroma.

Aromas have the ability to build powerful brand recognition. In his book, Brand Sense, Martin Lindstroem says, "Seventy-five percent of the emotions we generate on a daily basis are affected by smell…Next to sight, it's the most important sense we have". 

In a recent study, Dr Eric Spangenberg diffused the subtle smell of vanilla in the women's department and rose maroc (a spicy, honey-like fragrance) in the men's. When he examined the cash-register tapes, he found that receipts almost doubled on the days when the scents were used. However, when he reversed the scents (diffusing vanilla with the men and rose maroc with the women) customers spent less than average.

Jennifer Jefferies International (JJI) is already working with leading hotel brands to create a unique aromatic brand association for their customers. Among them are Palazzo Versace and Sofitel Hotel in Australia. 

A smarter guest experience means all the comforts of home:

Hotels focus on sourcing and providing the latest in-room innovations that match or surpass what consumers have at home.

A new generation of consumer hotel requirements are raising the bar; wireless Internet access, on-demand cable television, and instant access to movies and music are now just conveniences and are examples of some of the growing expectations of today's hotel guest.

To meet these expectations and deliver superior service, City Inn, a UK Hotel is creating and developing a smarter guest experience that incorporates not just technology but customer orientated services. 

City Inn pay in depth attention to detail, ergonomically designing guestrooms to incorporate ceiling to floor windows maximising natural daylight and operating an enhanced fresh air conditioning system pumping a high amount of oxygen into rooms. This has been developed to keep people more alert during meetings and to ensure they wake up feeling refreshed.

City Inn continuously innovates and develops their brand. They also conduct in-depth research to reveal customer expectations and recently found that "guests want to stay connected with work, family and friends as well as keeping abreast of the latest news when they were away from home or the office."

In response to this, City Inn developed a bespoke all in one Apple iMac multimedia entertainment system offering guests a stylish, fully integrated technology and entertainment solution throughout their hotel chain. First trialed in their London hotel, the integrated system also features built in i-Sight webcam with Skype for teleconferencing family & friends and free WiFi broadband available throughout the hotel.

This lead to City Inn being awarded the Hotel Reports Innovator of the year in 2009

RFID Revolution:

Technology developers are exploring how radio frequency identification (RFID) applications could be utilised within the hospitality industry. Hotels in Paris and Madrid are currently piloting Sonata, Swisscom's task-tracking and internal communication tool.

They have discovered RFIDs can be used to "help network for conferences or help people to find each other easily." Employing RFIDs within hotels is proving popular for allowing guests to locate their companions within the hotel, but more importantly from an internal perspective, Swisscom feel it supports "self-service technology, contactless access control and cashless payment."

Welcome Back – Tailored to your Taste:

The introduction of computer systems that connect individual rooms to network servers can now keep track of guests' preferences and amend the room conditions automatically.

The Mandarin Oriental hotel in Manhattan employs "smart" systems which can learn regular visitor's preferences like room temperature, the brightness of lights and even to their favorite song artists which can greet them as they walk through the door. 

Additionally, the technology also incorporates sensors in refrigerators which alert the hotel staff when the mini-bar is running low on soda.

While much of the underlying technology is not new, integrating technology to create a better customer experience is the underlying factor that all hotels aspire to.

Hotels are continuing to flex their financial muscle into researching and implementing technology into their hotel and guestrooms, and it appears in the long-term they will benefit.

A recent research study by Synovate supports this as it identified that "90% of customers say they will tell others about a good experience, sharing the ‘inside scoop' with their friends and family".

So look forward to encountering some of the 4 technological advances on your next hotel visit. 


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