ACCORDING TO a report by the people at the upcoming The Hotel Show 2016 in Dubai, there are some definite tech trends for the hospitality sector to watch out for. Check them out here:
1. Virtual Reality (VR)
VR is the next big thing for consumers with 38 million VR headset purchases forecast by 2020 (Source: TrendForce). Hoteliers are getting in on the action with Marriott leading the way, launching its first tests of VR headsets in hotel rooms in New York and London in September 2015, giving guests the chance to see concerts, skydiving and other visual experiences from their rooms. Our predictions of the future of VR: virtual concierge services (guests have the chance to tour local neighborhoods, etc); VR-equipped conference rooms (an architect or designer with the chance to provide a virtual tour of a new project, for example) – watch this space.
2. High-tech lobbies
In 2015, Japan launched a first hotel “Henn-na” 90% manned by robots including a robot concierge and luggage handler in its lobby area. Could this be the future for hotel lobbies? In the meantime, other hotels worldwide are witnessing a trend in lobbies becoming bigger and more ‘social’. The MGM Grand in Las Vegas for example is famous for many reasons (not least for holding the position of ‘largest hotel in the world’) – one of which is the massive video wall featuring a tweet deck which covers its lobby area. This is an excellent way to promote guest interaction, encouraging people to tweet @MGMGrand to have their message displayed on the iconic wall. As millennial travellers are having an impact on hotel design with more social spaces being incorporated, lobbies are getting bigger and more high-tech to encourage guests to interact here with the hotel, other guests, and learn more about the surrounding area. Free use of iPads and interactive touch-screen tech for hotel and other information is becoming more common.
3. Smart controls
EXAMPLES: At Starwood, Marriott and Hilton, guests can use their smartphones to open their hotel room doors and to access guest-only areas, such as fitness rooms and spas. At Virgin Hotel in Chicago, guests can use their smartphones to control room temperatures, adjust room lighting, and change the channels on their room televisions. THE FUTURE: the chance to personalise rooms in advance, pre-setting room temperatures and lighting preferences, and even selecting the choices for the mini bar.
Beacons provide two-way communication with Bluetooth-enabled smartphones. EXAMPLE: In 2015 Marriott placed beacons at spas, restaurants and bars and sent promo messages via app. Starwood placed beacons near entrances to streamline the check-in process. As guests entered, concierge could greet them by name. Beacons placed near hotel room doorways notified housekeeping when guests were not in their rooms. THE FUTURE: Hospitality industry innovators will be quick to find other applications for beacons to improve the guest experience and upsell hotel features.
5. Advanced security tech
EXAMPLES: Fingerprint scan room entry (Alma Barcelona) and retina scan room entry (Nine Zero Hotel, Boston). THE FUTURE: Facial recognition technology. Kees Van Donk, Director of Hospitality EMEA at NEC Global said at The Hotel Show’s TecSec Summit in September 2015: “The use of Facial Recognition tech has seen significant growth over the last 2 years particularly in Government sectors. We foresee this rise will continue with neighboring industries in the region’s private sector including hospitality, airports, theme parks and other travel-related businesses. This for both scenario’s, white-listing, welcoming the VIP-guests, as well as black-listing, keeping the ‘bad guys’ out.”