The future of guest room technology
In-room technology once meant a phone and a television, but now hotels equip guests’ rooms with sophisticated devices and systems. Some hotels are experimenting with devices like Amazon’s Echo, which many guests already use at home. On December 14, Wynn Las Vegas announced that it would install Echos in all 4,748 of its rooms by summer 2017. Guests will be able to control lights, draperies, room temperature, and the television using voice commands. The hotel expects to add other personal assistant functions in the future.
Bloomberg reported that Marriott International is testing voice-controlled devices by Amazon and Apple at an Aloft hotel in Boston. The JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa in Texas introduced Amazon devices in 10 of its rooms in October; guests can use the devices to order room service or toiletries. And the Waldorf Astoria opening in June in Beverly Hills, California, will offer iPads equipped with a text-based app for ordering room service and controlling lights and other room features.
In-room technology can also be used to sell and automatically dispense refreshments. Last year, Plum announced the launch of Plum for Hotels, an in-room appliance that pours individual glasses of wine for guests. The device is controlled by a touchscreen, and it tracks how much the guest is billed. In addition, it automatically sends a message to housekeeping when a bottle needs to be replaced.
Guests often bring their smartphones, laptops, and digital content when they travel, and hotels are finding that older technology falls short of guests’ expectations. Hospitality Technology reported that 36 percent of hotels were working to increase in-room bandwith in 2016. Hotels also prioritized upgrading televisions to newer and larger models that guests could stream their own content on. About one in four hotels planned to upgrade in-room televisions.
In-room televisions can also be used for communicating with the front desk or housekeeping. BeyondTV enables guests to contact the concierge or request housekeeping services using its remote. Possible uses include ordering room service and making restaurant reservations. Highlighting available amenities when guests turn on the television could draw guests’ attention to them and encourage guests to use more services.
It’s not yet clear how in-room technologies will affect hotel employee’s jobs, since these technologies are still being rolled out. If guests are able to use in-room equipment to solve problems they would otherwise ask the concierge for help with, it’s possible that the new technology would cause hotels to employ fewer people in the concierge department. At the same time, if guests have better options for in-room entertainment, they may choose to spend more time relaxing in their rooms rather than at entertainment venues outside the hotel. Spending more time in the hotel might lead them to order more from room service or to use other amenities like the spa, computer center, or gym, and hotels might then need additional employees in those areas.