The Rise of On-demand Streaming Services And How Hotels Can Profit

It’s no secret that scheduled TV programming is in sharp decline. Viewers no longer want to wait a week to catch their favourite TV show. They want to watch it at a time and place that suits them.

The rise of streaming services such as Netflix and Stan highlight just how fast this shift is happening. Despite only launching in March 2015, over 1 in 3 Australians now has a Netflix subscription, which includes a huge surge in subscriptions during the first quarter of last year.

This change in viewing consumption is reflected in the typical hotel guest who frequently arrives with their own entertainment on personal devices. Rather than relying on whatever in-room content happens to be available, they want the flexibility to watch their own movies and TV shows.

To cater to this trend, a growing number of hotels are offering streaming services to enable guests to watch their own content on the in-room TV. But not all streaming services are made equal. While still in its infancy, the current technology being used by some hotels already looks like it could soon be replaced.

The changing face of hotel streaming services

Back in 2015, Marriott lead the way by becoming the first hotel to introduce Netflix into their hotel rooms, allowing guests to access their own Netflix accounts on the in-room TV. Guests were also able to access other services including Stan and Pandora.

This move represented an important shift away from offering increasingly less popular pay-per-view content. Yet despite the demand for more personalised in-room entertainment options, this particular form of streaming comes with some drawbacks.

For instance, guests must either have a pre-existing Netflix account or set up a new trial. They also need to enter their personal Netflix account details using the TV remote and on-screen keyboard. Not only is this a cumbersome process, it involves sharing personal data in a public environment — something that many guests are likely to feel quite uncomfortable with.

However, a new form of streaming technology known as “casting” eliminates these issues, and arguably represents the way in which all hotel streaming services will go.



Casting technology: the future of hotel streaming

In contrast to traditional streaming, casting provides a simplified and secure alternative. Users can stream content by accessing the cast-enabled apps already on their own devices.

Not only does this eliminate the clunky user interface of inputting details into the hotel TV, it resolves potential concerns over data protection.

In terms of an industry standard, services such as RoomCast (powered by Google’s Chromecast) represent a likely contender. To date Chromecast supports over 1,000 apps, 200,000 TV shows and movies, and 30 million songs — so the breadth of content guests can stream is already pretty vast.

In addition, RoomCast enables users to carry on using their phone for other tasks without interrupting the content happening on the big screen.

Hotels embracing casting

Last year, Aloft was the first hotel to trial RoomCast at its 188-room New Orleans Downtown property. As an industry innovator, this move by Aloft represented an awareness that the nature of in-room entertainment could soon be entering a new era.

Just recently, Hyatt became the latest hotel brand to offer in-room casting. Hyatt has begun working with Sonifi Solutions to utilise its Staycast technology – another Google Chromecast-powered platform for the hospitality industry. The service is currently available in 14 Hyatt properties and integrates with the World of Hyatt mobile app.

Wingate by Wyndham has also begun running a pilot with Sonifi. This followed a test that showed on average, Wingate by Wyndham’s guests cast 12 times from their devices to the in-room TV over an average two-night stay.

According to Sonifi CEO Ahmad Ouri, one of the other major benefits of this form of streaming is data collection: hotels can look at streaming habits across the board to help them better identify how guests are using the technology.

From the guest perspective, the beauty of casting compared to earlier streaming services is about simplicity and security. They aren’t required to input a code or hand over personal details through the hotel TV. Instead, everything can be done through their own mobile devices using the apps they already have.

The future of in-room entertainment

We live in an era defined by instant access. Services such as Netflix, Amazon and Uber have habituated consumers into expecting immediacy and flexibility. In terms of in-room hotel entertainment, this is redefining the behaviour and preferences of the modern day hotel guest.


As streaming gains popularity in the home, guests will increasingly want and expect to access their accounts from the comfort of their hotel room. Moving forward, casting will become integral to this process, representing the ultimate way for guests to enjoy their favorite content through a simplified, secure and seamless form of connectivity.


Are You Taking Full Advantage of Your Guest Room Speed Dials?

Taking full advantage of your guest room speed dials can not only increase guest satisfaction but also contribute to hotel revenue. Travelers these days are looking for an “experience”, not just a place to stay. Many guests still prefer the simplicity of one-touch speed dials quickly connecting them to hotel and emergency services if needed. This could be the difference in them using the hotel Spa versus the other 10 spas right down the street. Even hotels that do not provide premium services have been able to generate recurring revenue by leasing speed dial keys to local companies.

Room Service – Two words that Make your Phone Generate Revenue

By providing your guests convenient one-button access to food and drink, hotels gain thousands of dollars in premium-priced sales.



Those with iPads and laptop computers can even bypass the phone and order online. But searching the Web does take more time than pushing a single button. Frankly, the convenience and simplicity of picking up the hotel guest phone, pushing just one clearly-marked button, and getting food and drink ordered from a handy menu that is already available in the hotel room is just perfect.

Think of it this way: If customers have to use their mobile phones to call for room service – with the hassle of having to find and then punch in a complete phone number– what’s to stop them from calling out for delivery? After all, it’s no more work to punch in one full phone number than it is to type in another.


But what does Room Service actually contribute to a hotel’s bottom line?

Quite simply, a single push of a button equates to about $30 high margin incremental revenue.

Hotel Phones = Happy Guests

If hotel guests need a wake-up call, advice on getting clothes cleaned, or fresh towels, they pick up the hotel guestroom phone, push a single button and get what they want. This is a guest convenience that is simple, fast, and — most of all – expected.  In an age where consumers are already cranky about service cutbacks in airlines and other travel-related products, taking away this expected convenience would be commercial suicide.

Lawsuit, Anybody?

Imagine that your hotel has a fire or other calamity. Now imagine that the hotel guestroom phones have been removed. Can you imagine what a field day some enterprising class action lawyer can have at your Hotel’s expense

You got it: By removing hotel guestroom phones, a hotel is exposing itself to millions’ of dollars in potential liability suits.  Even if disaster doesn’t strike? Have fun convincing your insurance company that removing guestroom phones doesn’t open your hotel up to such lawsuits. Unfortunately, your insurance company knows better. Chances are the increase in insurance premiums will eat up any perceived savings realised by removing guestroom phones – and then some.

The Bad News AND The Good News

The bad news; removing hotel guestroom phones is an effective way to slash revenue, alienate customers, and open yourself up to lawsuits and increased insurance premiums, The Good News; Preserving and growing your Room Service, and delighting your customers with hotel guest room phones helps ensure that these revenue centres remain alive and contributing to your hotel’s bottom line.




The Changing Face of Hotel Design

Hotel design has long had a strong influence on a hotel’s aesthetic appeal, but as the needs of the traveller have evolved over the years, so too has the design that draws in guests. As technology rapidly improves and develops, it starts to have more and more influence on the needs of hotel guests, thus impacting hotel design. In many ways it is the evolution of technology that is most influencing the evolution of hotel design.

Hotel lobbies vs communal spaces

The design of a hotel lobby is vital in giving a strong and positive first impression. And since the impression that hotels want to give has evolved over the years, it stands to reason that the design of the hotel lobby needs to evolve alongside it. The importance of marble, grand stair cases and designer chandeliers is decreasing as millennial travellers (Millennials – also known as Generation Y – are the generation born between 1980 and 1995) increasingly become the most influential market. Since millennial travellers value experiences over products and services, hotel lobbies are being designed to act more as a communal space in keeping with the local culture, rather than a place to make a grand Hollywood-style entrance.

Millennial travellers, as born collaborators, place a strong importance on being highly interactive. It falls upon hotel designers to provide these millennial travellers with interactive and social environments, communal areas in which they can get the full experience, whether this is social networking (in real life and online) or working away from the office.

Nautilus Lobby by Sixty Hotel Group

Nautilus Lobby by Sixty Hotel Group


“Millennials aren’t so interested in staying in their room, but congregating in compelling spaces with great design, music and a unique point of view,” says Jason Pomeranc, CEO of SIXTY Hotels, a lifestyle brand that recently opened a property in Miami.

Laslett Hotel, Notting Hill Library and curated walls

Laslett Hotel, Notting Hill Library and curated walls



In the UK, Laslett hotel, a new entry onto the London boutique hotel scene, capitalises perfectly on the rich culture of its Notting Hill setting. So much so that it has become something of a neighbourhood hangout, rather than the traditional style hotel lobby. There is a curated British library, local art on the walls, and shops and restaurants selling and serving celebrated local products.

Poshtel Lounge

Poshtel Lounge


And it’s not just high-end boutique hotels adjusting their design motifs. The low-budget hotels and hostel chains are also changing their image in-line with millennial expectations. The European hostel brand Generation Hostels have created a series of ‘poshtels’ which incorporate lavish communal areas with bars, cinema rooms and even areas to take a yoga class.


“We’re trying to capture people who are curious and people who want to experience design and want to experience something local,” said Josh White, Chief Strategic Officer for the chain.

The most recent example of this change in design is the launch of the new edgy midscale brand by Hilton called Tru.

“We are incredibly excited to be launching Tru by Hilton, which will serve the largest segment of the hotel market, but a segment where no brand is meeting guests’ current needs,” says Christopher J. Nassetta, President and CEO, Hilton Worldwide.

“Tru will provide guests with a high-quality, contemporary, consistent and fresh experience at a great value for customers, while at the same time delivering strong returns to our owners,” he says.

The brand will appeal to a broad range of travellers who span generations but think alike; they are united by a millennial mindset – a youthful energy, a zest for life and a desire for human connection.  Tru by Hilton is “more than just a place to sleep, it’s a true travel experience designed to deliver a strong value proposition for owners and guests”.

Tru by Hilton’s features include:

tru by Hilton

tru by Hilton

-The Hive, a first floor experience that’s more than a lobby – 2,770 square-feet of open space with unique ways for guests to engage with others or spend time alone – in one of four distinct zones for lounging, working, eating or playing;

-The Play Zone, filled with table games, a large-screen TV (offering guests more than 150 channels), and tiered, stadium-inspired seating;

-A centrally located Command Centre – a re-envisioned front desk – featuring a social media wall with real-time content to foster engagement among guests, and a 24/7 market offering fun snacks and refreshments, single-serve wine and beer, healthy light meal options and sundries for purchase;

-A complimentary ‘Build Your Own’ breakfast bar

-A technology-forward mentality featuring segment-leading complimentary WiFi bandwidth allowing guests to download and stream content on their devices, plentiful power sources, and mobile check-in, room selection and Digital Key available through the Hilton HHonors mobile app;

Vital amenities aka technology

iPhone and toothbrush jpgMillennials have grown up with technology, often viewing their smartphone as an extension of themselves that they would not dare part with. As digital natives, they are the most avid users of technology, and use it to communicate almost exclusively, either via emails, texts or on social media. Nine out of 10 millennial adults across the world get dressed, brush their teeth and check their smartphones as part of their morning routine, according to the Connected World Technology Report.

Since technology is so much a part of their lives, it has quickly become a prerequisite rather than a luxury. As such, hotel design has begun adapting to meet their needs. Where once large bed throws were the mark of a luxurious hotel room, it’s now far more imperative to have a good sized TV (46” plus) that allows guests to view their own content i.e. Netflix, easily and seamlessly as they do at home.

Access to WiFi is mandatory. If a millennial were unable to check their smartphones, two out of five reported in the Connected World Technology Report that they “would feel anxious, like a part of me was missing.” WiFi that is unreliable or expensive (i.e. not free) is an easy way for hotels to score a black mark against their names in online reviews and on social media (and trust me, they’ll find a way to get online and tell the world about it). Excellent quality Internet and making it easy for guest to connect, charge and use all their various devices is crucial to total customer satisfaction. Additional outlets and USB charging points are beginning to appear in most hotel room designs, becoming as important as in-room coffee – if not more so, with your average guest travelling with at least three devices that require charging.

Hilton’s new Tru brand will offer smart and efficiently designed guest rooms full of the things that matter most – all-white comfortable platform beds, 55-inch TVs, eight-foot wide windows, access to power everywhere, and surprisingly spacious bathrooms.

The growing popularity of keyless room entry has shown how willing guests are to incorporate their mobile technology in the way they interact with hotels. This is allowing hotels to adopt new mobile technology – such as hotel apps/loyalty programs – to connect better with and serve their guests.  No one likes waiting in-line. Banks have been giving us technology based alternatives for years; it’s only natural that hotels do the same.

Energy Efficiency    greenleader hotel logo cropped

Reducing energy use is also becoming an important part of hotel room design.  Electricity usage is one of the highest operating expenses a hotel incurs and on average, 90% of wasted electricity usage comes from the guestroom, which can be a hotel’s most unmanaged resource. Guestroom’s Air Conditioning/Heating (HVAC) system can represent 70% – 90% of that wasted electricity. Fully automated solutions are now available which can detect whether or not a guestroom is occupied and either turn off the HVAC or set the temperature to one pre-determined by hotel management.  Thereby allowing control over electricity usage while still maintaining maximum guestroom comfort levels.

Authenticity is the key

Erin Green, vice president of development Americas of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts has said that “Authenticity is the new definition of luxury.” In other words the perceived value of a hotel visit is now greater when authentic and unique experiences are involved. Creating a hotel experience that reflects the surrounding culture and community is a trend that is quickly spreading around the world, one that is highly encouraged by millennial travellers.

Inn & Spa Loretto Santa Fe a Destination Hotels Property

Inn & Spa Loretto Santa Fe a Destination Hotels Property

“Authenticity is more important than room size, finishes, and brick and mortar. It’s about feeling like you’re in place,” said Russell Urban, executive VP, business development and acquisitions, of Destination Hotels.

Those hotels that incorporate a local influence – whether it be art, history or architecture – into their hotel design are now more likely to be perceived as providing the real travel experience that millennial guests respond so well to.

The growing influence of millennial mindset

Hospitality properties of all shapes and sizes are beginning to redesign their properties to introduce new technologies and grow their brand appeal to this generation, and it’s easy to see why. There are currently 83.5 million millennials – more than one quarter of the population – in the US alone. And this number is only going to grow as Generation X ages, travels less and has less income to spend on hospitality.

As the future of the travel market grows and develops new needs, it’s only going to become more important for hotel design to adapt to meet them.

Definitions / Notes:

Millennials – also known as Generation Y – are the generation of travellers born between 1980 and 1995. Millennials were the first generation to be born into the digital world; they’ve grown up in an age where technology is an everyday part of life and regular travel is very accessible. This has created a wave of so-called savvy travellers, who look for unique value in their travel destinations at an affordable price.

Millennial Mindset – There are plenty of Generation X’ers (born between 1960 and 1980) who have a millennial mindset – That is they love technology, have a youthful energy, a zest for life and a desire for human connection.  In case you haven’t guessed I am one of them.


How Hotels Can Enhance the Guest Experience With Beacon Technology

Understanding and anticipating individual guest needs lies at the heart of offering a superior hotel experience. To offer evermore tailored and personalised levels of service, it’s now possible to access an unprecedented amount of customer data via sources such as mobile check-ins, online bookings, loyalty programs and past spending habits.

Alongside this array of information, a growing number of hotels are investing in beacon technology to gain insights into personal preferences and market more effectively to guests as they move around the property.

So how does beacon technology work, and what specific ways can it be deployed for maximum benefit?

How Does Beacon Technology Work?

Used in combination with a hotel app, strategically placed beacons allow a guest’s movements to be tracked during their stay. As they come within range of a specific beacon, they receive a push notification that commonly includes useful information or an exclusive deal relevant to their location.

Back in 2014, Marriott International installed beacons at a select number of properties as part of its LocalPerks push-messaging program — which has since been rolled out to 500 hotels. When guests download the relevant Marriott App, they need to activate the Location Services and Bluetooth on their smartphone.

Once opted-in, Marriott can then push basic details about hotel amenities along with special location-based offers.

This all obviously requires that individuals are happy to give up a certain level of privacy and personal information, which means hotels must clearly explain how being tracked during their stay can enhance their whole experience.

With that in mind, here are just some of the ways beacons can be deployed to deliver a host of diverse benefits.

1. Streamlined Check-in

Rather than queuing at the front desk, beacons allow guests quick and easy access to their rooms. As they walk into the hotel lobby, a beacon can send a push notification that automatically brings up the reservation, enabling them to digitally check in without delay. Not only does this speed up things for customers, it reduces the time staff need to spend dealing with lengthy queues. Going further, a welcome message on arrival could offer a discount off a room upgrade or a meal at the hotel restaurant for that evening.

2. Understanding Guest Behavior

By tracking where guests spend their time around the property, beacon technology is able to deliver a wealth of insightful data. For instance, a person might split the majority of their time between the spa, pool and fitness centre. This would imply that they value health, well-being and relaxation. Using this kind of broad data, future marketing could be personalised to include the type of deals that would be most likely to appeal. In this case, a 20% discount off a luxury spa treatment or a free VIP fitness session could act as a tempting booking incentive.

 3. Enhanced In-room Services

When a beacon detects a guest has entered their room, it can also act as a trigger to automatically turn on in-room features such as the lights and air conditioning. If it then detected a guest is in their room later in the evening, a message might be sent to their smartphone to remind them about the in-room dining options. Using the hotel app, a person could then browse the menu, pick a favourite dish and place their order — all without having to move from the comfort of their bed.

4. Tailored Offers and Promotions

By knowing a guest’s location, relevant and timely offers can be sent that take advantage of likely buying intent and heightened states of receptiveness. Needless to say, this is a far more effective approach than sending generic offers in the hope of piquing a person’s interest. For instance, a 2-for -1 meal deal could be sent to a guest’s phone as they approach the menu board at the hotel restaurant. Specific preferences (accessed via loyalty membership data or previous hotel app interactions) can then be used to help personalise these deals by recommending dishes or drinks that someone is most likely to be tempted by.

5. Promote Special Events and Tours

An increasing number of travellers head on holiday intent on exploring the destination and local neighbourhood. So when guests arrive at your property, you could send them a push notification with a helpful notice such as, “Ask about our local sightseeing trips and exclusive guided tours.” By positioning beacons around public notice boards in your lobby or social spaces, this same approach can be used to promote any special events your hotel might be hosting with exclusive discounts for early sign-ups.

6. Helping Guests To Navigate

From a practical perspective, beacons can be incredibly useful to help with navigation around a hotel — especially for larger properties. Instead of having to ask staff for directions, mobile users can simply use their installed hotel app to navigate to their room and other geo-fenced areas such as the spa, restaurant, pool or fitness centre. In addition, beacons can be utilised to create interactive tours, highlighting noteworthy attractions or points of interest to guests as they stroll around the resort.

Making the Most of Beacon Technology

If you’re considering installing beacon technology at your property, look at the areas guests are most likely to require information on/or make a purchasing decision. When you understand when and where they’re most receptive, you can provide valuable assistance and push relevant marketing messages that influence decision-making.

Ultimately, beacon technology has the potential to enhance the entire hotel experience. By gaining unique customer insights, you can personalise your service to meet guest preferences and needs in real-time. In turn, this can help maximise upsell opportunities and increase the average spend of each guest during their stay with you.


How to Use SMS Texting to Interact With Hotel Guests

When you want to reach your hotel guests in an instant, texting is the answer. With text messages read over 98% of the time, this is the most effective way to reach both future and current guests for a variety of reasons. Whether you want to let a guest know that their reservation for your restaurant is ready, or you simply want to send a welcome message, text messaging is a useful form of communication that will improve the relationship between you and your guests.

Share Event Information Through Text Messaging

When you utilize technology, you have the ability to share all kinds of information with your guests in an instant. If you have an event to promote for the evening, or you want your guests to know about a family activity happening by the pool, a quick text message will let guests know what is going on. In addition, if you learn about an event out in the community that you think your guests will love, you can send them a text message to share the information.

Provide Guests With Deals While Staying at Your Hotel

If you have a last-minute deal to offer guests, a text message can let them know about the deal. If your restaurant is having a slow night, a quick message offering a free appetizers to all registered guests can bring guests into your restaurant. Send out exclusive deals only for registered guests, as this will make your guests feel special. When you provide your guests with offers that will make their stay at your property more enjoyable, you are providing excellent customer service.

Send Out Arrival or Departure Messages to Guests

When your guest checks in to your property, you can send a quick message welcoming your guest to the hotel. You can send a message that includes events for the night, or other benefits of being a guest at your hotel. Your message can also simply say, “Welcome to our resort. For any questions or concerns call the front desk at 111 using the phone in your room!”

You can also send out a text message reminding a guest that their check-out is approaching.. Remind customers how to check-out, or send out a simple thank you message to the customer. You can also send out a message that includes a link to a survey, asking your hotel guest to fill out the survey to rate their satisfaction with your hotel.

Use Text Messaging for Confirmations

When a guest books a night at your hotel, a quick text message can let them know that you are confirming their reservation. You can also use text messaging to remind guests it’s time for their dinner reservation, or that the golf tee time they have reserved is getting close. When you can send confirmation reminders to your guests, this will be a useful way to communication scheduling issues with your guests. This is a great way to provide high-quality customer service to your guests.

When you implement text messaging to communicate with your guests, you are opening up a new avenue of communication. Guests want to know that you are paying attention, and will feel as if you care when you send out exclusive deals. With text messaging in place, your guests will feel welcomed, and they will be more likely to return.


Author Biography:
Ken Rhie

Ken Rhie is the CEO of Trumpia, which earned a reputation as the most complete SMS solution including user-friendly user interface and API for mobile engagement, Smart Targeting, advanced automation, enterprise, and cross-channel features for both mass texting and landline texting use cases. Mr. Rhie holds an MBA degree from Harvard Business School. He has over 30 years of experience in the software, internet, and mobile communications industries.


Will Machines Replace Humans in the Hospitality Industry?

The impact of artificially intelligent machines on the future job market has been gaining significant attention in recent years. According to a recent report by the McKinsey Global Institute, an estimated 50% of all current work activities might be automated by 2055.

Of course, machines taking human jobs is nothing new. For decades, companies within the manufacturing industries have cut costs and boosted productivity by using machines to carry out physically demanding and repetitive tasks.

But jobs that might once have been considered inherently human are also under threat. Advances in machine learning and natural language processing have led to a new breed of AI-powered robots that can handle jobs with greater cognitive complexity.

Suddenly, machines are showing the potential to handle a vast number of jobs more effectively than humans, including jobs within the hospitality industry.

Today, customer-facing robots are being deployed by numerous hotels around the world in an increasingly varied range of roles. In particular, there are certain positions where shared functionality between people and robots seem especially likely.

Room Service

Room service certainly seems to be a prime candidate for some level of automation. The job relies heavily on efficiency, planning and attention to detail – qualities that machines excel at.

Room service robots such as Relay are already being trialled in a select number of U.S. hotels to carry out deliveries to guest rooms. After receiving an order, hotel staff load items into Relay, which then navigates around the property using Wi-Fi, on-board cameras and sensors. Guests can then retrieve items from within the robots storage compartment when it reaches their door.

According to its creators, over 80% of hotel staff say Relay makes them more effective and satisfied with their jobs. Far from complete automation, room service robots may instead free up staff to focus on more complicated tasks and jobs.

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In addition, five-star hotels are less likely to embrace this kind of technology. In such an exclusive environment, having a member of staff personally deliver and serve an in-room dining order is all part of the experience.

Alongside housekeeping, those working in maintenance could also be one of the first to find themselves being assisted by robots. AI and Automated Fault Detection will also play a significant part in helping hotel maintenance teams with plant and equipment maintenance.

Arguably, robots could even be deployed as hotel porters. From a practical perspective, a person would still need to open car doors and remove bags from the vehicle. But a robot could then take over – swiftly transporting luggage to the guest room. Cargo vehicles such as the Gita offer a tantalizing glimpse into this possibility.

Robots may also be utilized in roles that rely upon greater social skills and advanced cognitive capabilities. In fact, there are plenty of roles that could see partial automation in jobs that traditionally rely on a fundamentally human touch.

The Front Desk

Arguably, the most important guest-facing role in a hotel is the front desk. This is the first moment a hotel gets to formally greet and welcome their guests. So the idea of automating this vital part of the experience might seem questionable.

However, do all travellers want or appreciate such formalities? Many prefer making use of mobile check-in services – happy to forfeit human interaction for a speedier journey to their room.

With a robot-staffed front desk, a hotel could still provide a formal greeting for those that want one, while also offering a swifter check-in process.

The idea certainly isn’t unprecedented. The Henn-na hotel in Japan is staffed almost entirely by robots, including a humanoid female and a dinosaur that welcome guests on arrival and carry out check-in/check-out services.

There are clear advantages to this approach. Machines are highly adept at handling repetitive, process-driven tasks. A sufficiently advanced front desk team could offer a much more efficient service than a human when dealing with room details and booking information.

But the job clearly requires other qualities beyond administrative efficiency.
The value of being greeted on arrival with a genuine welcome can’t be artificially replicated. After a long and tiring journey, a smiling face can be more effective at lifting a guest’s mood than a speedy check in.

In the end, the front desk might be a place where humans and machines work together, catering to the needs of all guests.

In particular, AI could prove especially useful in this role by offering language recognition and translation services. A new wave of AI translators is already showing promise in this field. With continued progression in natural language capabilities, a multilingual robot catering to overseas guests would be hugely beneficial.

The Concierge

The role of the concierge could also be one that is eventually automated. At the Hilton McLean, Virginia, USA, an AI-powered robot named Connie acts as a robotic concierge. Guests can get recommendations on places to visit, tips on the local dining scene, and directions to help navigate around the property.
Connie learns through each interaction, perfecting her ability to make evermore useful suggestions. But is this a one-off gimmick, or a viable industry-wide alternative to a human doing the same job?

If the technology advances sufficiently, automating the role of the concierge certainly has merit. Imagine an advanced version of Connie that can access all guest data and already knows their favourite kind of restaurants, tourist attractions and spending habits.

On arrival, it could instantly provide each guest with a personalized itinerary, or a series of tailored recommendations based on past data. This hyper-personalized level of service is one that a human simply wouldn’t have the time or resources to replicate.

Although again, it might not be appreciated by all. Would those staying at a luxury hotel settle for a machine attending to their needs? Even if every whim and request was meticulously catered for, the experience would still be lacking the genuine care and attention only a human can offer.
While AI continues to make huge strides in terms of cognitive capabilities, it also remains impersonal. The ability to empathise and display true emotion will always be valued qualities – and for now at least, they remain beyond the realms of what’s possible within robotics.

In Conclusion

Certain roles including housekeeping and maintenance seem destined for some form of automation. In these areas, robots and AI could be used to help increase operational efficiency, decrease staff costs and improve the guest experience.

Other jobs such as the front desk and concierge may involve a merging of roles. Tasks may be shared and distributed between humans and machines depending on the particular skill set they offer.

Ultimately, the human touch can never been replaced by a machine. For that reason, the hospitality sector will almost certainly be one of partial automation.

Yet it’s clear that as the technology continues to advance, the hotel of the future is one where artificial intelligence and humanoid robots will almost certainly play an increasingly crucial role.


How A New Wave Of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Is Transforming The Hospitality Industry

Back in 2011, IBM’s Watson (a natural language-based supercomputer) shot to fame when it beat two of the greatest champions on American TV quiz show, Jeopardy. It was a landmark event that showcased just how far intelligent computing had come, while giving a tantalising glimpse of how far it might go in the future!

Since that headline-grabbing win, Watson’s processing power has been harnessed by a range of industries, from helping doctors choose treatment options to assessing risk management and trading patterns in the finance sector. And now it’s starting to show huge promise in the hospitality industry. (more…)


How Hotels Can Utilise Technology to Attract Millennials

The popularity of Airbnb with Millennials has been well-documented, causing the hotel industry to rethink how it appeals to this travel-loving generation.

 Today, hotel brands are finding new ways to lure back this demographic, from focusing on localised design to providing unique, authentic experiences.

In addition, a number of chains have started investing more heavily in technology and digital connectivity – desirable features intended to win the hearts of younger travellers.

The following list represents 5 technological trends that hotels are embracing to cater to this tech-savvy generation.


1. Seamless Wi-Fi 

Offering free Wi-Fi is kind of expected these days. But Millennials don’t want to be restricted to only having access in their rooms.

They want the ability to Skype family from the lobby, check emails by the pool, or share a picture of the amazing dish from your restaurant on their Instagram feed.

In short, Millennials expect to be able to access the net anywhere, anytime. So providing seamless connectivity instantly ticks a big box for this generation.

sheraton selfie spotAnd there’s another major advantage of providing Wi-Fi throughout your hotel: increased exposure through social sharing.

While travelling, 75% of Millennials publish social content at least once a day, so it makes sense to make it easy for them to share photos and posts when they’re relaxing and enjoying time around your property.

 2. In-Room Integrations

Black and white modern master bedroom

It’s second nature for Millennials to take their own technology on holiday with them, so hotels need to make it easy for them to use their own devices at any point.

The ability to connect smartphones and tablets to in-room technology is becoming a service travellers increasingly expect to find.

Bluetooth wireless sound systems are a particularly welcome perk, enabling guests to stream their own playlist while enjoying an enhanced audio experience.

Users are also being given the ability to interface their devices with hotel Smart TVs to order amenities and request guest services.

And with advanced media hubs, personal smartphones and tablets can be hooked up to the big screen, enabling guests to surf the net, check emails, or stream their own video content while lounging in bed.

3. Ordering Room Service With Smartphone Apps radisson Room Service app squ png

While calling up for room service is by no means a big effort, hotel smartphone apps are providing a streamlined way for guests to communicate with the front desk.

Several brands have invested in their own dedicated apps, including Ritz-Carlton. As well as offering mobile check-in/check-out, Ritz-Carlton’s enhanced app allows guests to request everything from fresh towels to a turndown service.

According to a global report by Oracle Hospitality, being able to order room service in this way is something Millennials are likely to appreciate.

In a survey of over 9,000 individuals within this demographic, only 12% said they’d requested room service via their smartphone. But significantly, when asked how technology could enhance their stay, room service came out as the number one request.

4. Automated Check-in

In this Oct. 14, 2014 photo, a mobile check-in option is offered for travelers at the main check-in counter at the Marriott Marquis Times Square hotel in New York. Marriott International launched the ability to check in through its app at 330 North American hotels last year. By the end of this year, the program will be live at all 4,000 hotels worldwide. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

For some time now, airports have offered travellers the ability to bypass the booking desk for automated check-in. But hotels haven’t been so quick to offer similar flexibility.

For many travellers, being welcomed by a member of staff at check-in will always be preferable to an automated service. But this is less true of Millennials: 36% prefer automated kiosks minus staff interaction, compared to just 19% of older generations.

When guests arrive at the Hyatt Union Square, New York, they’re given 3 different options to check-in: at the front desk, using a check-in kiosk, or via an iPad with staff.

This approach certainly has benefits, namely – choice. In order to appeal to all generations (and individual preferences) check-in kiosks may well end up becoming commonplace, but in a way that complements rather than replaces the traditional front desk.

5. Communal Areas with Tech Hi Tech Hotel Lobby The Row NYC0 squ

When Millennials check-in to a hotel, they don’t just want to spend time in their room. They also want communal spaces to relax, socialize and work.

Many forward-thinking hotels are now utilizing technology to cater to this demand, designing lobbies and common areas that guests can happily spend several hours in.

A case in point is Moxy – a brand launched by Marriott aimed primarily at Millennial travellers. Their cosy, stripped back lobbies offer plug-ins for personal devices, “furiously fast” Wi-Fi, and something called “The Guestbook”, which allows guests to post images to Instagram in real time.

It represents a model that many hotels may look to follow.

In the past, guests might have left the hotel in favour of hanging out in the nearest coffee shop or co-working outlet. But through creating social spaces with technology at their heart, guests are far more likely to stay on-property when everything they need is close to hand.

In Conclusion

Technology is playing an increasingly central role in the travel experience, especially with Millennials.

Having sophisticated in-room entertainment, access to multiple power outlets and experiencing seamless digital connectivity: these are all becoming hardwired expectations of a tech-savvy generation.

As such, hotels must continue to embrace technological innovation and consider it as something not optional but essential to the modern guest experience.


Guest Communication in our mobile-centric world

Hotels that deliver world-class customer service start with their staff; and excellent staff need to be excellent communicators. However, it can’t stop there. The systems with which these great communicators work must be designed to promote communication. In other words, in order for your hotel staff to be fantastic, there needs to be a system in place. hotel staff SQU  Your highly-trained staff won’t be able to look after your guests to the best of their ability if they don’t have the technology and the resources on hand to properly do so; just as a top of the line communication system would be worthless when staffed by people who don’t communicate well.

Communicating that extra mile

The ability of your hotel staff to work as a team, and anticipate the needs of your guests, will be hampered by their inability to easily and effectively communicate amongst themselves, as well as with the guests.

Gym, Massage PillowPicture this: a guest pulls a muscle whilst working out in the hotel gym. One of the hotel personal trainers recognises the injury and recommends a massage. With an efficient communication system in place, the hotel spa massage therapist would know about the guest’s problem before they even meet, thanks to the personal trainer filling them in on the details of the injury. And to take it a step further, when the guest goes to bed at the end of the day, the housekeeping staff will have been able to substitute fresh, firm pillows for him to better support his injury on the recommendation of the massage therapist.

Open lines of communication between hotel staff and hotel guests can create an amazing customer experience. And as more and more communication takes place exclusively online and on mobile devices, hotels need to look to the mediums of digital communication in order to keep providing outstanding service.

Digital hotel communication

Your average hotel guest, in fact your average human, is never too far away from some type of mobile device. Therefore including different forms of digital communication for your guests will be vital in order to provide a full service. This could include hotel apps, SMS-messaging or communication via social media channels or WhatsApp.  Providing the option to communicate via one or all of these channels is a sure-fire way to create better lines of communication with your guests.

Messages-App-Icon-1024x1024 no bkgroundDespite the massive growth in social media, texting still remains the favoured form of digital communication. And this is not just for teenagers and millennials, according to a Global Business Travel Association survey published in 2014. The survey points out that corporate traveller managers said that their customers preferred customisable two-way communication via mobile devices over other types of communication, when available.

Hotel Apps and Mobile Messaging:

Marriott SMS SQU copyHotel Apps that utilise this preference for SMS-type forms of communication are being used by hotel chains such as the Marriott and Starwood.  Increasing communication with guests will translate directly into more revenue per room or repeat bookings. This could come in the form of SMS campaigns, room-service reminders, or promotional prompts that can be redeemed with the tap of an app.

With two way SMS communication guests are able to text a request to the hotel instead of having to call, to ask for more towels, room service or other services and amenities.

ALICE with a guest SQUA new breed of apps is being developed to provide these sorts of additional services at not only a single property, but throughout entire hotel chains. Chains such as Gansevoort Hotel Group and Standard Hotels have incorporated mobile messaging technology in the form of service-on-demand application called ALICE. The platform enables hotel guests to request services and amenities from their smartphones, wherever they are in the hotel. With a real time mobile connection, guests are in control of their stay like never before. ALICE has been shown to be especially popular for guests to access whilst at the beach or at the pool, viewing menus and ordering food and drinks without having to grab the attention of hotel staff.

ALICE Screen-Shot SQUAlex Furrer, General Manager of The Setai, Miami Beach said “Our guests use their mobile phones for everything these days, so providing this option to engage with us is the ultimate luxury experience. With ALICE we have given our guests the choice to communicate with us on their terms”


zingle on iphonesquEarlier this year, the Hyatt hotel chain selected leading mobile messaging service Zingle to help better connect with their guests. The platform’s multi-channel messaging service allows guests to instantly and seamlessly text and message hotel staff before, during, and after their stay.

Jeff Bzdawka, Senior Vice President, Global Hotel Operations at Hyatt said “Zingle offers Hyatt hotels the ability to instantaneously build one-on-one relationships in ways our guests want to engage.”

Glowing Group messagess is another cloud based solution that enables hotels and their guests to message each other in whatever mobile messaging platform (ex: SMS, WhatsApp, WeChat, etc.), AND in whatever language each guest prefers. For hotel guests, enables in-the-moment communication with the hotel wherever, whenever the guests need, in the messaging platform and language each guest is most comfortable with. For hotels, they can communicate with their guests in-the-moment to deliver more personalized, distinguishable guest experiences, as well as recover from a poor experience before the guest posts to social media (such as TripAdvisor or Twitter).


If implemented properly, messaging apps have the potential not only to transform customer service, but also to deliver operational efficiencies that could save money in the long run.  However we must not forget that it still requires well-trained and attentive hotel staff to complete the link to create a fantastic customer experience for your guests.  In other words, hotel technology is most effective when implemented to support fantastic hotel staff, not replace them.


How are Millennials Impacting Hotel Technology?

How Are Millennials Impacting Hotel Technology?


Millennials – also known as Generation Y – are the generation of travellers born between 1980 and 1995. Millennials were the first generation to be born into the digital world; they’ve grown up in an age where technology is an everyday part of life and regular travel is very accessible. This has created a wave of so-called savvy travellers, who look for unique value in their travel destinations at an affordable price.

Millennials are your future guests, now!

It’s no secret that millennials are your future guests. As Gen X and Baby Boomers age, it is inevitable that many of your guests in the future will belong to the millennial generation.

According to research from Cornell Center for Hospitality Research, 50% of all travellers to the USA will be millennials by 2025. However this doesn’t mean that you should be waiting 10 years to implement new and relevant hotel technology. In fact, as of 2013, millennials outnumbered baby boomers 79M to 76M, and as the boomers continue to age, that gap will continue to widen.

International brands have already jumped onto the hotel technology bandwagon, with Starwood’s W brand embracing the millennial guest by incorporating technology and millennial-friendly design into their hotels early on.

And while it may seem like a big investment in technology just to cater to these seemingly fickle travellers, millennials guests also come with some serious benefits. A main benefit being their desire, and ability, to share their experiences with friends and family before, during and after their visit.  You might say Word of mouth has become word of mouse.

What Millennials want

As a general rule, millennial travellers aren’t looking for the same ‘cookie-cutter’ experiences from their hotel stay. In fact the biggest reason millennials cite for travel is wanting to gain new and unique experiences. Many hotel brands have already developed a millennial-friendly image by responding to this trend and actively shying away from the standardised image. A prime example is the trendy boutique hotel group, Citizen M, which have properties in Amsterdam, Glasgow, London, New York, Paris and Rotterdam. Their brand denounces now-defunct amenities such as trouser presses, bellboys and, in their words, “stupid pillow chocolates”. Even as a chain, Citizen M works to give millennial travellers what they’re really looking for – a unique local experience.

A constant demand for hotel technology

In lieu of luxurious four-poster beds or decorative pillows and throws, millennials are demanding more and better technology in order for their hotel stay to be a good one. In fact, according to data from Statista, complimentary WiFi still tops the list of requirements from both business and leisure travellers.

The millennial traveller is keen to use technology to make their lives easier and their travel experience more seamless. This includes checking in at hotels, paying their restaurant and bar bills as well as looking up places to eat, shop and visit. Millennial guests are both self-sufficient and tech-savvy travellers who are comfortable using apps and mobile websites; making it all the more important for hotels to embrace these platforms in order to build better relationships with their millennial guests.

Without a doubt the main type of hotel technology that is being influenced by millennial travellers is mobile technology. Smartphones and tablets have long surpassed the superfluous status that they once held and are an integral part of most people’s lives – especially a millennial’s.

Mobile devices are the key

Since becoming inextricably linked to their mobile devices, millennials depend on them in order to handle almost every aspect of their lives – everything from office work to dating – including travel. Mobile devices play a significant role during each stage of the travel experience as millennial travellers use their smartphones and tablets to research hotels and book rooms online, navigate and explore new areas and post reviews and share their experiences online.

Extended customer service

For a millennial personalised service doesn’t actually have to involve a person. The access new hotel technology gives to millennials means that customer services begins long before your guests set foot in your hotel, and extends to long after they’ve checked out. This could be in the form of a mobile app that lets guest choose exactly what type of room they want to book, and allows them the option to check-in online and use their smartphones as their room key. It could also mean being able to answer questions about bookings in advance via email, Skype, Twitter or Facebook, or providing video tours of your hotel or resort on YouTube.

Since technology provides you with so many ways to connect with millennial guests before they even book a room, it has become vital to stay active on all the social media platforms 24 x 7 as in-house millennials may now communicate their immediate needs to the hotel they are staying at via such channels. By the same rights, guests will post photos, videos and reviews of their stay and – given the right incentive – use technology as a means of gaining extra value through loyalty programmes.


Whilst millennial guests have a reputation as being picky and frugal, their loyalty can easily be gained as long as you offer the right incentives. Millennial guests on the whole are less interested in accruing loyalty points over time, but instead are much more interested in loyalty benefits they can reap straightaway.

Technology such as online check-in and smartphone room keys are only available to those guests who sign up to the respective hotel loyalty programmes, thereby giving the millennial guest real value straightaway and the hotel receives valuable customer marketing information in return.

Personalized experiences

Millennials tend to have had a fair amount of experience with travel, and as such are looking for something unique in every trip they take. The ability to personalise trips is something that is very appealing to this ever-growing market, and hotel technology is one of the many ways to provide this.

It could be in the form of a 24-hour concierge like Hyatt’s E-Concierge, or a 24-hour Twitter presence that responds to inquiries at any time of the day in any time-zone. Hotel technology such as being able to personalise your room settings, in-room entertainment and even your hotel rewards schemes is likely to appeal to a millennial traveller.

Hotels need to create an experience that’s personal enough to make the guest feel special without appearing to try too hard. Striking that delicate balance between being personalised and attentive without restricting a millennial’s freedom is a sure-fire way to attract millennial guests.

What about generation Z?

After the hospitality industry is done adapting to millennials, you can be sure that trends will change again when the next generation of traveller comes of age. Generation Z will be even more technologically savvy – earning the nickname of digital natives – learning how to swipe open a smartphone before they can even walk. So getting a hotel prepared with technology would seem to be a sensible long-term investment towards the generations to come.