11 Ways Mobile Technology Could Change Hotel Experience

This is an excerpt from an original article featured in the January issue of the Hotel Business Review. Reprinted from the Hotel Business Review with permission from www.hotelexecutive.com.

In such a short amount of time, mobile technology has changed the way that the world does just about everything. There’s no doubt about it; smart mobile devices are dictating how we live our lives.

With these mobile 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.

It is opening a variety of delivery mechanisms for personal guest services that are affordable, efficient and easy to use. Not only is it now easier to travel the world, it is also easier for hotels to operate and could change how guests interact with a hotel.

The futuristic hotel room’s take on mobile technology

As a service to our members and the industry, HFTP researches and educates about the future of guest room technology through GUESTROOM 20X. This futuristic guest room exhibit features the latest and near-future technologies for a modern hotel room. A new version of the hands-on exhibit is produced every other year, with the next one debuting at HITEC 2012 in Baltimore, Md. on June 26.

The most talked about items from the 2010 version have to do with mobile-friendly technologies. If this trend continues, how we think of hotels will soon vastly change.

11 ways a guest’s hotel experience could drastically change

Mobile technology has the potential to make many things in today’s hotel room drastically different, if not obsolete. In the near-future, you could be interacting with your hotel room in ways you haven’t even though about – all because of your mobile device. And since many of these technologies are already available to implement in your hotel, it’s only a matter of time.

Here is a sampling of items that may be drastically different in some hotels of the near future:

  1. Currency –Some banks, mobile developers and credit card companies are already creating a mobile wallet, allowing you to pay for your room and more by picking which credit card you want to use and securely delivering the transaction to the hotel’s computer —all from your mobile device. There’s no need to carry a separate wallet or cash.
  2. Hotel Room Keys – Technologies already exist that allow guests to safely use their mobile device as a room key by sending an encrypted signal to the guest’s cell phone that is unique to each user.
  3. In-Room Phone – Almost everything you can do on a standard hotel room phone can be accomplished on a smart mobile device. Once hotels find a way for guests to contact the front desk in case of emergency (either a text messaging system or an intercom could work), then those bulky phones could be history.
  4. Concierge Desk – With virtual concierges available wherever you are on the property, there will be no need to go downstairs to the lobby to have a concierge make your dinner reservations, tell you about the museums in the area or help you plan a romantic night for your date.
  5. Room Service – With the use of apps, you won’t be tethered to your room in order to get room service. Using the locator on your mobile device, room service is able to deliver your order to you anywhere on the property.
  6. Front Desk Attendant – This hotel staff’s position could soon change as guests adapt to using their mobile device as a hotel room key and with hotels able to send a room bill via e-mail.
  7. Printed Hotel Promotional Material – Hotel marketers can stop worrying about outdated printed material in each room. Guests can scan a QR code using their mobile device and learn the latest happenings at the hotel and in the area. Hotels only have to update one thing when there is a change – the web page.
  8. Alarm Clocks – Who needs a separate alarm clock when you have your trusty mobile device to wake you up?
  9. In-Room Entertainment – This is already seeing a hit, as hotels are finding that guests would rather use up bandwidth to watch a movie or play a game on their mobile device than spending extra money on the hotel’s in-room entertainment.
  10. Thermostats, Light Switches and more – All-in-one systems already exist, allowing guests to have central control of media, lighting, temperatures and more. Some vendors have an app for the home version of this centralized control system, so it’s only a matter of time before an app is created for hotel rooms as well.
  11. Power Cords – Have a rat’s nest of mobile device cords in your suitcase? Not anymore. Wireless power charging stations allow you to charge your mobile devices without all those pesky wires getting in your way and tethering you to an outlet.

No one said it would be easy for hotels

As you can imagine, removing some of these items from a hotel’s operations can create opportunities and challenges for hoteliers. Loss of revenue from one mobile device inspired change might lead to new and creative ways to reach the hotel’s bottom line because of another change.

If history repeats itself like previous technology integrations, there’s one thing we can learn from this: Regardless of how quickly mobile devices integrate into hotel operations and how many processes that they will change, guests are going to demand that the industry embrace mobile devices because guests are integrating them into their everyday lives.

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.

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