Hotels are embracing digital in a big way, as they seek to distinguish themselves from the competition by offering compelling reasons to stay with them, over the competition.
One of the emerging trends is taking advantage of the technology in your pocket. At select Starwood hotel brands around the world, guests will no longer have to fumble for their room key card at the bottom of their bag now that the chain has rolled out keyless technology that opens doors with the swipe of a smartphone. Starwood’s SPG Keyless program is being called a first for the hotel industry and will roll out to 10 hotels around the world in markets like Beijing, Doha, Hong Kong, New York, and Singapore.
Starwood is not the only company experimenting with being able to open your hotel doors with an app. HotelTonight has also developed a mobile app-enabled feature that allows guests to open their doors with a swipe of their phone which is being negotiated with hotels worldwide.
One of the benefits about this automatic door entry program is that some hotels are bypassing the need to check in at the front desk altogether, except in regions that require an ID check at the front desk. This is actually drawing praise by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak who recently stayed at an W Hollywood Hotel citing that ““And I didn’t have to talk to anybody to do this.”
Hotels are also turning to digital newspapers and magazines to offer guests the ability to read their own local papers, even if they are thousands of miles away. Recently Accor has announced that their entire chain of 3,500+ hotels across 92 countries have signed a deal with PressReader. “This is one of our biggest announcements yet and it demonstrates the direction we’re going,” said Igor Smirnoff, Chief Commercial Officer for PressReader. “We think this is indicative of a huge change in the way that newspapers and magazines are being consumed.”
The fifth annual Hotel Technology Conference in Singapore just spent the last few days discussing what type of advancements the hospitality industry will face in 2015. One of the most exciting things was Turning OFF and ON the lights and controlling Air-conditioning with the of apps. IT departments in major hotels are also looking at TV based motion and voice controls, and presence detectors to allegedly making it easy for the guests, while at the same time – controlling energy.
The other key take away from the conference was the focus on wearable tech, such as smart watches, smart bands and how they can play a role in opening doors and automatically checking in and out.
I think the big trend in the hotel sector in 2015 is to take advantage of the fact that guests bring their own smartphones and tablets with them. The challenge is being able to develop and market a range of apps to open doors, control the environment and bypass the check in counter to expedite the entire process.