Are Smart Hotel Rooms The Future For The Hotelier?
Smart hotel rooms are on the rise, with guests demanding a high level of in-room automation and personalised technology. No longer is smart technology considered innovative: yesterday’s hi-tech is today’s normal. A robust unified network enables an impressive smart room experience and we explore what that may look like below.
What is a smart hotel room?
Essentially, a smart room uses IoT (Internet of Things) to enable devices and systems to communicate with each other to provide added-value functionality such as voice control, automation or energy efficiency.
Chains like Hilton and Marriott International Hotels, InterContinental Hotels, Starwood Hotels, Four Seasons Hotels, Best Western Hotels, Hyatt Hotels and Wyndham Hotels all offer smart rooms.
With new ‘smart’ technology solutions that integrate with the unified network being launched all the time, there is scope for independent hotels to offer similar.
Automated smart room controls
These range from ‘smart mirrors’ and tablets to apps that guests can use on their own devices.
For example, Evolve delivers a fully integrated, seamless control and monitoring system that provides occupancy-based energy management, in-room lighting controls and guest room automation including shading and drapery to create memorable guest experiences while reducing energy and operational costs.
Another is Electric Mirror which has developed the Savvy SmartMirror which has AI (Artificial Intelligence) voice incorporated into it, showcasing the hotel’s amenities as well as a control panel for interacting with the smart room and in-room concierge.
Guest room tablets can be embedded in each hotel guest room which provides functions and amenities like temperature, lights, entertainment controls, blinds, meal delivery, spa services and more into one easy to navigate (and easy to purchase) interface.
Given the trend towards Bring Your Own Device, hoteliers should be circumspect about investing in tablet-only solutions unless they have wide-ranging integrations with other services and also offer an app version guests can use on their own device.
With a suitably configured unified network, hotels can now offer streaming to guests who prefer to use their own accounts.
According to a survey by Hotel Internet Services, most hoteliers (90% of those asked) say their guests would prefer to use casting facilities on their own devices rather than use the hotel’s VOD (Video on Demand) system. And most guests (60%+) surveyed, prefer to order amenities and services via the guestroom television, if available.
Virtual concierge – rise of the robot
In-room digital concierge-type services are becoming popular.
Alibaba in China has created a robot porter for carrying items around hotels, called Space Egg. Integrated with Alexa-like AI assistant called Tmall Genie, guests can use voice commands to order items delivered by Space Egg. Aloft hotels by Marriott has been using a robot porter, Botlr by Savioke, since 2014 to help the front desk staff to respond more quickly to guest queries.
Alexa for Hospitality is making inroads with hotels, and a number of providers are offering easy to deploy systems. Other than the more obvious smart room and guest-centric information requests, the in-room voice assistant can be used, for example, by housekeeping to quickly confirm that a room is cleaned and ready as is one of Volara’s applications.
Many guests have privacy concerns and are suspicious that such devices are listening in to their conversations. Providers like Volara make a point of deleting all guest data within 24 hours and avoid holding personal data wherever possible.
Interactive walls, can be personalised by guests to display colours and artwork in guest rooms to match their unique tastes and preferences. In Hilton’s Connected Rooms, guests can customise and control the temperature, lighting, TV, and window coverings. Longer-term, they will upload their photos and art to show digitally in the room.
Through the Hilton Honors app, they will be able to save these settings for future hotel stays.
Benefits of offering a smart room
Technology is becoming more pervasive in the guest experience, specifically in guest rooms. Adding capabilities has a clear association with higher guest satisfaction, but this plateaus as offerings become standard.
The independent hotelier has a seeming unending challenge to always provide added value technology as a point of difference.
What is added value today, is expected tomorrow. A hotel that offered mobile app functionality, could expect a massive 65-point increase in customer satisfaction when surveyed in 2017. But come 2018, it was generating a smaller 58-point uplift
Can Vital Wifi help?
Introducing smart devices to guest rooms can enhance the user experience. Adding functionality and independence with the use of voice control, instant access to amenities information and energy efficiency. A robust unified network enables this impressive smart room experience. With Vital Wifi, you can take the growing pains out of expanding your network and meeting increasing demands, and instead experience a service that grows with your business.
Put confusing hotel WiFi solutions in the past and modernise your services with Vital Wifi. Talk to one of our friendly technicians for more information on our services and how to get started.