Mr. Tanveer Mohamed, CEO Precedence Technologies Talks About Technology in the hospitality industry – exploring the very latest trends.
Technology is advancing at a faster pace than ever before, and this is changing both the expectations of patrons as well as the way in which the hospitality industry conducts its business. Some of the trends in industry are leading to great improvements and savings for hospitality industry companies; while some are changing how hotel developers plan their buildings, infrastructure, management structure and staffing requirements.
Wi-Fi infrastructure overhauls
Nowadays, hotel guests who travel with devices such as phones, tablets and computers no longer see Wi-Fi as a perk, but as a must-have when they check in at a hotel.
Hotel guests expect to be able to connect to the internet seamlessly and without too many interruptions, leading hotels to invest in better, faster Wi-Fi infrastructure so that people can do business and use their technology devices with ease when they book their stay.
Hotels are also starting to move away from user pay models. In the past, hotels could charge exorbitant rates and guests knew they would have to pay if they wanted to go online. Installing and maintaining a hotel-wide wireless network may be coupled with costs, but many leading hotel groups have started to install high density Wi-Fi and started to offer in-building mobile phone coverage as guests have come to expect these services during their stay (not only for themselves, but also for their guests if they are hosting a conference or function at the hotel). It might not yet be financially feasible for hotels to completely abandon the user pay model, but many of them are re-thinking their current infrastructure and pricing models.
Digital conference facilities
Besides being able to offer high density Wi-Fi for conferences and meetings, hotels also need to be able to offer access to audio-visual (AV) and digital facilities for conferences. While the amount of AV and digital equipment that goes into a typical conference room is fairly minimal, staging companies are often hired for various projects in order to equip the facility as required.
A key component in designing effective conference facilities that can accommodate this type of technology is creating easily accessible, concealed pathways in ceilings and flooring where adequate power and data connectivity can be facilitated. If a hotel has extensive conference facilities, network design becomes critical to ensure indoor mobile phone coverage, Wi-Fi connectivity, VoIP, real time location services (RTLS) and internet protocol television (IPTV) as well as all the accompanying AV and digital equipment.
Mobile communication and automation
In many airports, it’s no longer necessary to stand in a queue to check in and people are expecting the same kind of easy, technology-driven check-ins at hotels. Guests want to be able to do everything from checking in at a venue’s automated kiosk to ordering room service with a digital device instead of standing in queues and moving around the hotel premises to order food.
Thanks to digital innovation and social media, guests also expect digital interactions with the hotel to be personalised. When investing in digital apps for check-ins, room service and other customer-oriented digital interactions, hotel operators are investing in systems and technologies that can personalise the experience for guests, including a guest’s name being displayed on the welcome desk at a digital check-in station; their food preferences or past purchases being displayed in a digital room-service order system; and similar.
In addition, the ‘concierge in your pocket’ concept is fast gaining popularity due to its ability to allow operators to include useful information such as surrounding entertainment venues; medical facilities; and similar services.
Like many of the other technology trends in the hospitality industry, investing in a check-in/cocierge app requires a small initial investment and can lead to greater efficiency and savings as hotel staff are able to focus on customer service and property developers don’t have to create large static reception desks at each entrance and hotel location.