Business and leisure guests alike are starting to expect tech-savvy hotels as the norm. As we reported in our previous TMI Spy-Hotels & Leisure, 80% of Hotels expect to have their own app by the end of 2015. It’s no surprise that according to Hub Hotels in the UK, 42% of UK guests would rather operate room amenities via a display instead of a switch or a remote control.
The big news in tech since our last edition has been the launch of Apple Watch and hotels have been scrambling to be the first to make use of this technology. This honour apparently goes to Starwood Hotels and Resorts who claim to be the first hotel company to let guests check-in and open their hotel room door with their Apple Watch via Bluetooth. Guests at the Marriott can check when their room is ready on their Apple Watch app whilst Hub Hotels in the UK are reportedly the only hotel in the world (currently) where an Apple Watch app can control in-room functions.
Amenities previously only available through room service can now be accessed through the cloud as hotels look to roll out superior functionality in a competitive environment. The Virgin Hotel in Chicago allows guests to control the heating, in-room music and television through their app (called Lucy) as well as ordering laundry services and reviewing the bill after the stay. Whereas with the Marriott Hotels app, extra pillows and a car service can be ordered 72 hours in advance.
As we have previously reported in TMI-Spy Retail, iBeacons are very popular in stores and it seems that hotels are also starting to incorporate them as well. The James Hotels in Chicago and New York have installed iBeacons in their properties so guests now automatically receive notifications once they step onto the property which could be anything from hotel information to special discounts.
The chances of receiving mechanical assistance during your hotel stay are also increasing – see our winter edition of TMI-Spy Hotels & Leisure – with robots looking to be more than a passing fad.
Yotel is a hotel that models itself on Japanese pod hotels – with some inspiration from premium airline cabins. Its rooms (or cabins) are small (but beautifully formed)! Storage is at a minimum in rooms which is why the hotels offer storage compartments on the ground floor. In their New York property, help transporting your luggage is available through Yobot – a Robot who can handle 500 pounds and negotiate around 300 pieces of luggage a day. Yotel believe this enables their staff to focus on guests needs rather than storing luggage.
Whilst Yotel might be using robots to enable more human interaction, Henn-na Hotel in Japan is aiming at the opposite. The hotel’s owner Hideo Sawada is aiming to make his property “the most efficient hotel in the world” by having 90% of his staff as robots. The robots at check-in have a human-like face – well the Japanese-speaking one does. Bizarrely enough the English-speaking receptionist is a dinosaur. Go figure! Another feature is facial recognition technology, so instead of the standard electronic keys, a digital image of the guest’s face is registered during check-in. Each room has a little electronic creature which will switch on the lights, offer weather forecasts and wake-up calls. Sawada is even trialling drones to deliver snacks. But one area which still relies on humans is security and oh yes, the robots still can’t make beds!
One thing’s for sure – when the next edition of this trendsletter comes out, there will be even more wild and wonderful innovations which is why it is essential for hotels to keep experimenting and piloting new concepts. The four-star, 431-room NH Collection Eurobuilding is apparently the only Living Lab in the hotel industry. It explores new technology in a real environment with testing often done by the hotel’s guests. One innovation is the LED vault screen in the lobby which is Europe’s largest multimedia vault. There are four rooms designated to testing, enabling NH to study future trends in hospitality technology in collaboration with tech entrepreneurs and experts from around the world.
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