If you were to ask hotel guests about the amenity that they consider the most important, there is a good chance that they will mention connectivity. These days, guests want to be able to access digital equipment easily both inside and outside a hotel. Hotel owners are now finding it important to spend resources and time on network applications and technology as they spend on the quality of food service and linens.
Hotel guests expect to have the same online connectivity and customization they are used to at home. Most travelers carry iPads, laptops and smart phones and they expect that the hotel they will stay at offers internet connectivity. After ensuring that a hotel has connectivity, it is essential to maintain it. Ideally, the network should always be available and it should always offer high performance. In addition, the network should be safe and secure since a lot of information passes through it.
There are many new applications that hotels can install to attract guests who are looking for connectivity. However, the following technologies deliver the best competitive advantage and return on investment.
1. Digital check-in
This is common at airports and hotels can also take advantage of it. Digital check-in makes it possible for guests to check-in from a touch screen display or kiosk at the hotel's lobby. At such a self-serve check-in, guests can see their room and choose a different room, larger room, a different view or different floor depending on their preferences. They can also request for services such as wake-up calls among others.
2. Scalable, reliable and secure Wi-Fi connections
Most hotels now have Wi-Fi connection and most guests choose to stay at hotels that have this amenity. However, many guests do not like the current security and sign up concerns of hotel Wi-Fi. Hotels should seek to make Wi-Fi more reliable, easier and secure. It should also be compliant with the Payment Card Industry and other state or federal law requirements. Wi-Fi connectivity should also be managed flawlessly and be able to accommodate the needs of different guests.
3. Smartphone technology
Smartphones are now being used in place of paper boarding passes for airline travel and they will soon be used in place of the conventional hotel room key. It is possible to send entry codes and room numbers directly to a smartphone to allow guests to enter a hotel room without using a key. This is a good solution for the common problem of losing keys and it also eliminates the security risks associated with magnetic key strips which contain sensitive personal information like credit card and social security numbers. Guests can also use their phones to check out since they do not need to return any keys. Smartphone technology can also be used to book hotel stays and process paperwork.
4. The television as a traveler's control center
To augment the mobile devices, the flat panel display or television in a hotel room turns into a guest's control center. It renders the conventional telephone obsolete and serves many purposes such as being a traveler's source of hotel information, alarm clock and entertainment center. For instance, the in-room display may assist guests to book restaurant reservations and show tickets among other things. It also allows guests to set preferences for temperature and lighting.
5. Guest sensors
Energy efficiency is important for both the hotel manager and customers who are environmentally conscious. More and more hotels apply room sensors which detect when the rooms are occupied and when they are empty. If the room is empty, the room settings will adjust to ensure that there is no energy wastage.
6. Restaurant display ordering
Another trend in hospitality are displays providing information to guests during their stay especially at hotel restaurants. The efficiency of staff increases when touch screens are used in the eateries. With the ability to use dynamic graphics, chefs are able to upsell on orders and promote specials.
7. Digital employee communications
Hotels utilize digital learning to inform their employees about many things including shift responsibilities, updating them on occupancy rates and security procedures. Hotels can also use digital learning to teach their employees about company policies and procedures through podcasts that are downloaded to their iPods or phones.
8. Multiple data streams
Mobile devices and new technologies increase the demands on networks significantly and they therefore require additional capacity. It is essential for data streams to be highly available. It is also important for network performance to be optimal in order to meet the expectations of travelers. Moreover, all the data transactions need to be secure.