As we head toward 2020, the sea of futuristic technology is expanding—and so is our appetite for it. Nowadays, Apple’s newest smartphones can be unlocked with a quick scan of your face, voice-activated instruments in your house are helping make your checklist and keep your calendar in order, and cars are even beginning to drive themselves.
Small businesses are catching up, too—shipping speeds are becoming lightning-fast, and payment methods are getting easier. And while governmental organizations and some large chains will take a while to reach the curve, the scales of modernization are starting to tip when it comes to the world of hotels.
As service-based organizations, hotels are feeling pressure to keep up with the rising tide of tech. In the present day, not having Wi-Fi in your room would be considered an archaic downfall. But Wi-Fi is now a tiny blip in regards to innovative hotels—it’s an expectation.
The dominant force on modernization is to make experiences easy, enjoyable, and immediate for the customer. Hotels of the future are vying to do just that, and are expected to look and operate very differently from today’s lodging. And many futuristic implementations aren’t far off—some are hitting rooms as we speak. Here are a few of the upgrades we envision in the coming years:
AI and Smart Everything
When you walk into Hotel Jen in China, you may notice a strange, sleek mechanism moving across the floor. That’s either Jena or Jeno, the hotel’s AI staff. The robots make routine trips to guests, delivering them meals, spare towels, or other necessities in approximately 15 minutes.
Artificial intelligence is the most prominent chapter in today’s technology revolution, and hotels are beginning to embrace the cause. Chatbots and voice assistants are already making their way into hotel rooms and can improve the overall stay, helping answer guests’ questions, fulfilling guest requests, and helping to make recommendations, such as where to eat or fun destinations to visit. Moreover, app-controlled lights, audio controls, and other smart in-room technology create intelligent rooms with a powerful wow factor.
More virtual helpers have emerged, like Edward at Edwardian Hotels or Rose at Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. Even tech giant IBM has released its own hospitality assistant, aptly named Watson. In the promotional video, which borders on science fiction, Watson demonstrates the ability to anticipate the needs of guests and makes impressive recommendations based on available data and past stays.
Keyless Entry and Mobile Check-In
Guests prefer to use their smartphones for everything. Fitness goals, calendars, business meetings, and even the start of new relationships can all be conducted in the palm of our hand. It only makes sense to skip the line and let keyless entry unlock the door to our hotel room.
At OpenKey, we’ve anticipated the demise of the archaic key card for quite some time. Waiting in line to check in for your key card can be an exhausting enterprise, and keeping track of the plastic cards are an annoyance. Why not tether check-in and room entry to the equator of our existence—our smartphones.
Keyless entry systems are easy for hotels to implement and easy for customers to use. And the process is a simple, effective song and dance—customers are first sent a confirmation email a day before they arrive. The email contains a download link, whereby they register with their name and mobile number. When they arrive at the hotel, they can bypass the lobby with an entirely mobile approach. Once at the door, a simple tap on the phone unlocks the door, then on to R & R.
Humanizing a Hotel: Personal, Local Touches and Meaningful Experiences
Millennial consumers are steering away from cookie-cutter, generic trends and are gunning toward travel with personality. Lobbies in the near future will likely bring guests together in multi-use spaces equipped with tech lounges, bars, restaurants, and more. And design is in the details—today’s travelers are looking for unique flare, especially when it comes to the hotel they’re visiting. If a traveler is staying in San Diego, they’re likely there for the beach, not a country-western setting. Generic paintings and placid walls with zero beach appeal are probably worse than the wrong theme.
An important X-factor for hotels of the future will be cultivating a culture of individuality that sets themselves apart from the competition in creative and entertaining ways. This means getting personal—and creating a guest experience that becomes a permanent memory.
By: Moragn Sliff