Technology and the on-demand economy have transformed every aspect of our lives -- you can get groceries delivered instantly, keep an eye on your pets while away and request a home visit from a doctor. Similar technologies and intelligent devices can also play a special role in advancing hospitality innovation and travel experiences for consumers across the globe.
While the hospitality industry has been slower to catch onto smart tech, there are a few hotels that have embraced technology to offer guests higher levels of personalization and control. What does that mean in practice? For starters, fast and free WiFi isn’t a luxury any more. Customers now expect it, along with an optimized check-in process and better in-room entertainment choices. Here are some of the hotels that have adopted smart tech to streamline hospitality for the customer’s benefit.
1. Robotic Luggage Storage - Yotel in New York, NY
Space in New York City is at a premium, which often translates to a hefty price tag.
Located in Hell’s Kitchen, Yotel1 tries to ease the cost of a nightly stay by providing space-efficient rooms it dubs as “cabins”, which feature full-size beds that can be stowed away during the day. To make the check-in process more convenient, Yotel has touch-screen kiosks instead of a front desk staff. Should you need something during your stay, staff are always on-call to help. If you arrive too early for check-in, you can store your luggage using the Yotel’s friendly robot so that you can go explore the city unhindered. Upon return, a crane arm retrieves your luggage from the locker after you input the corresponding code. Yotel is using robotics and artificial intelligence to delight guests while making the most use of its small space.
2. Voice Controlled Room - Wynn Hotel & Resort, Las Vegas, NV
Integration with Amazon Echo was the talk of CES this year, and it seems to have resonated with some of the leading casinos in Las Vegas.
While many of the casinos on the strip are implementing more smart tech features like mobile check-in, the Wynn Hotel & Resort is the first to implement Amazon Echos in all of its guest rooms -- set to go live in the summer of 20172. By using their voice, guests will be able to open the curtains, turn on the lights, activate TVs and control the temperature of their rooms as soon as they walk in. The Echos at the Wynn will be pre-set to these commands, so guests won’t be able to use any of the Alexa commands that require a personal account associated with the device. However, Wynn is considering adding more commands to its Echos in the future.
3. Robotic Butlers - Aloft Hotel, Cupertino, CA
Aloft in Cupertino is in the heart of Silicon Valley, and it's no surprise that it's implementing high-tech features to optimize hospitality3 for guests.
In addition to keyless entry via the Aloft smartphone app and an Apple TV in every room, Aloft Cupertino employs a robotic butler called Botlr (who certainly looks the part with his built-in bow tie). Boltr delivers towels to you pool-side and is available 24/7 should you get a craving for a midnight snack. Forget to bring a toothbrush? Botlr can get that for you too. This frees up Aloft’s front desk staff to attend to more pressing guest concerns, while providing convenience and a sense of control to guests. Will these helpful little bots become a common sight in the next few years?
4. Entertainment from Your Phone - Godfrey Hotel, Boston, MA
Similar to the Aloft in Cupertino, the Godfrey Hotel4 provides streamlined features for check in along with in-room entertainment capabilities.
Taking a cue from wearable technology, wristbands allow easy entry into guest rooms. A large touch-screen TV in the lobby provides guests with on-demand access to flight information, local restaurants and events, and a virtual city map. One of the highlights is guests’ ability to stream content from their phones to the 55 inch Samsung Smart TVs in their rooms. With both Android and Apple support, guests can choose the music and movies they want to watch on the big screen.
5. Digital Concierge - Renaissance Midtown Hotel, New York, NY
The main feature at the Renaissance Midtown Hotel5 is an interactive wall called the Discovery Portal.
To use it, guests can step onto one of the circular holograms projected on the floor that pertains to a certain category (entertainment or dining, for instance). Motion sensors easily detect where guests stand and then display a number of options that they can select simply by gesturing. These are specially curated tips and information depending on what the guest wants to do. In essence, it’s a virtual concierge. The Renaissance Midtown Hotel also offers an in-person concierge service named “The Navigator” so that guests can get in-depth information on what they’ve found on the Discovery Portal. To top it off, the hotel has a unique “living wall” that displays different New York scenes and artwork depending on the season, making the hotel experience feel dynamic and different as the seasons change.
Technology clearly has a place in hospitality when it is done to enhance the human element of service rather than replace it. As consumers, we’ve come to expect personalized, on-demand services in all areas of our lives. By integrating smart features that streamline the check-in process and give more control to guests, these hotels are providing a modern travel experience that’s stress and hassle free. The added bonus to these tech advancements is that by optimizing comfort, accessibility and convenience, hotels can reduce waste and improve their environmental impact.