What Technologies Hotel Guests Want and Don’t Want

Posted by

A Survey of Hotel Guests Shows What Technology Features are Important to Them When They Travel

The integration of technology into our everyday routine is seamless — used in communication, design, decision-making, orientation and entertainment. With mobile smart devices in our hands, and media and information up in the cloud, there are limitless possibilities for access. This is a game-changing development for the hospitality industry, opening a new avenue for delivering personal guest services efficiently and with ease in the guestroom.

Before HITEC each year, one of the most frequent questions asked is, “What cool guestroom technology is going to be shown this year?” Because so many companies use HITEC as their product launch location, I can never answer that question definitively.

So, I decided to conduct a survey, not of what kinds of guestroom technology would be at HITEC, but of what the industry thought should be in a guestroom. Following the survey results, I am also interjecting into the survey results some ideas of things that I would include in my ideal guestroom.

64 Percent of Survey Respondents Spend More Than 10 Nights a Year in a Guest Room

The survey was conducted online over the dates of June 6 – 20, 2011. It was designed to spur discussion rather than to be a statistically significant instrument. HFTP, nor I, are endorsing any products, services, or systems mentioned.  It was distributed to almost 3,000 members of the hospitality community. As of writing this article, about 15 percent of the audience had responded.

The number of nights respondents spent in a hotel guest room per year were:

  • 10 nights or less (36 percent)
  • 11 – 25 nights (37 percent)
  • 25 – 50 nights (17 percent)
  • More than 50 nights (10 percent)

Some Travelers Carry at Least Four Gadgets That Require Charging

I thought it would be interesting as a benchmark to ask about the number of technology items travelers are carrying with them on an average trip when they stay in a guestroom. For me, the biggest surprise was that 2 percent of the respondents were still carrying pagers.  The other results were that:

  • 90 percent carry laptops
  • 82 percent carry smart phones
  • 15 percent carry tablet computers
  • 15 percent carry media players
  • 3 percent carry game systems

Based on this data, 15 percent of the respondents carry at least four gadgets that require charging.  If you are offering double rooms, consider that a family might need as many as 16 electrical outlets, not to mention the standard items that you provide the guests like the television, alarm clocks, lamps, etc.

The Human Element is Still Important

The survey revealed some other data that was surprising to me:

  • 86 percent of the respondents still prefer to check into a hotel with front desk personnel
  • 10 percent prefer a self-service kiosk
  • Less than 5 percent preferred either the smart phone or computer method

I would have expected the number of respondents who prefer to check-in with the front desk to be high…but not this high. Based on the responses, the human element at check-in is still overwhelmingly important to a majority of travelers and they are willing to forgo some of the advantages of recent technology advances to get the human touch.

I predict that as smart phone technology becomes more integrated with the traveler, the number of people who prefer this method will increase. However, it seems that the human element as the traveler’s preference is going to be around for a very long time.

Do You Need to Rush to Add 3D Televisions to Your Hotel?

Another surprise was the small number of respondents who had a preference for a 3D television in their guestroom — less than 3 percent.  HD was the winner at 79 percent and the balance of the respondents had no opinion.

This is what respondents ranked as either “important or very important” to be available on the guest room television:

  • Room controls — lights, weather, temperature, etc. (49 percent)
  • Connections that allow guests to play own media (48 percent)
  • Television shows on demand (29 percent)
  • In-room messaging (29 percent)
  • First fun movies (27 percent)
  • Subscription services — Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, etc. (22 percent)
  • Closed captioning in multiple languages (10 percent)

Secure, Reliable, Fast, Wireless Internet is a “Must-Have”

Respondents ranked items that they found “important or very important” which might be found in the guest room:

  • simple telephone for room service, contacting the front desk, etc. (71 percent)
  • Adjustable desk and chair with universal charging plugs (66 percent)
  • A simple alarm clock (65 percent)
  • Bio-metric safe (18 percent)
  • Internet-enabled telephone capable of ads, valet, maps, local attractions, etc. (17 percent)
  • Voice activated lights, curtains, temperature (12 percent)
  • “Find Me” mobile phone issued by the hotel  (11 percent)

There was overwhelming, wide spread agreement on the open ended question, “what is the number one piece of technology you’d like to see universally added to the guest room?”

The answer was a secure, reliable, fast, wireless Internet connection.

Other answers that showed up numerous times were universal chargers, universal hubs, in-room alarm system that the guest can set and on-site technical support for technologies that are offered in the guest room. One respondent said, “If you can’t support it, don’t offer it!”

My Wish List for Guest Room Technologies

During my travels, I have logged close to five million air miles and most years I spend more than 75 nights in a hotel room. So, here is my personal “wish list” of technologies for the guest room:

  • Adequate Power Outlets— There never seems to be enough of them to power my electronics when I travel alone much less, if I am traveling with my wife.
  • Universal Power Outlets — Recently I was at a resort in Shenzhen, China where they offered one single outlet that would accept every adapter that I carried in my travel adapter case.
  • Fast, reliable and secure Internet. Okay, enough said!
  • A shower that can be activated from the sleeping area so that a guest doesn’t have to wait for the water to get hot.
  • A closet with a built in steamer so that you can hang up your clothes when you check in, turn on the closet and all the wrinkles are gone the next morning.
  • A bio-metric or a smart phone app that opens my room and eliminate the need for the plastic keys.
  • A personal UV remote control/toothbrush/glass sanitizer so that I can ensure these items are clean.
  • A bio-metric or a smart phone app that will open my safe. I’d also like a safe that can recharge all of my technology gadgets if I need to lock them up while I am out of the room.
  • A voice or gesture controlled HD television so that I no longer have to keep up with the remote.
  • A bed that never wears out, never has to be turned by housekeeping, can be steam cleaned and feels like you are floating on air.  This bed does exist and was featured in the early versions of the GUESTROOM 20X display and is called the Ammique Bed.

Frank Wolfe, CAE is the CEO of Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) and an inductee into the International Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame. He often speaks on hospitality technology through the GUESTROOM 20X program. Follow him on Twitter @frankwolfe.

Original article was featured in the July issue of the Hotel Business Review. Reprinted from the Hotel Business Review with permission from www.hotelexecutive.com.

0

14 comments

  1. Frank & HFTP – Thanks for sharing this.  This is really useful data for a guestroom appliance manufacturer such as ourselves.  Its good to see the guestroom hotel phone coming top in the hotel room item rankings (71%) …although one wonders how the remaining 29% of respondents might react if they were presented with a hotel room with no phone!  The emphasis on simplicity is good reassurance for hoteliers that it is worth investing a bit more in a specialist hotel phone with clearly labelled one-touch guest service keys and faceplates… guests just want the simplest and quickest method of contacting the various hotel departments. 
    The demand for “Internet-enabled telephone capable of ads, valet, maps, local attractions, etc. (17%)” is significant and probably representative of the more tech-savvy survey respondents.  At Cotell we’re catering to this market with our SmartDisplay phone.  http://www.cotell-international.com/products/FuegoDisplayStation/FuegoDisplayStation.aspx, although for the present moment in time – primarily due to high component costs – its the reserve of the very top end and most affluent hotels; however proper ad integration can produce a compelling ROI to open up the accessibility of the product.
    The article’s emphasis on hotel’s providing adequate charging & power facilities is absolutely a theme of the moment, and we’re seeing increased demand for connectivity panels which include universal power plugs, as well as USB charging.  These are great ways to retrofit additional power to rooms in a usable format.    http://www.cotell-international.com/products/IH2500ConnectivityPanel/IH2500ConnectivityPanel.aspx. Again the challenge for the industry is the cost benefit analysis – how many more bookings/rebookings will hoteliers get from providing these facilities, versus the cost of providing them.  As demand increases the question should switch to become about the cost to the hotel of not providing adequate facilities.

    Luke Wheeler
    Cotell International
    http://www.cotell-international.com
    http://www.cotell-international.com/blog/

  2. Very interesting article. Thank you for sharing it.
    For me, it is very good to see that 86% of guests still want to check in with front desk personnel.
    I’ll show this information to hotel owners who want to replace people with self-service kiosks.

  3. Nice article.  Have definitely seen a lot of data in support of the demand for quality free WiFi at hotels recently, as well as quite an active discussion of difficulties and proposed solutions to the problem of growing bandwidth usage/demand by customers 
    (eg http://www.hotelexecutive.com/feature_focus/2012/05).One way in which the public’s thirst for high-speed, reliable WiFi can be realized is through advertising support that subsidizes hotels’ investment in more bandwidth.  A two-question survey we presented to our active travelers passing through airports where we help provide free public WiFi access found that 72% of the 1,000 respondents would be willing to watch an advertisement prior to connecting at a hotel if it meant that their connection speed would be faster.  Good to know.

    -LO @cloudninemedia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *