IN THE FIELD WITH DAVID ESSERYK -Part 7 / Technology Trends

Top 5 Hotel Technology Trends

David Esseryk, the Accor group’s VicePresident Consumer Technology is in charge of guest-facing technology for all brands. In this issue’s regular report, he looks at what he sees as being the “top five” technology trends affecting the industry today.

DEVICE AND ENTERTAINMENT AUTONOMY

Guests are travelling with more devices, which means they also are bringing their own entertainment options.

Who can live without their smartphone or tablet these days? Nearly half of SmartBrief poll respondents travel with two devices, and another third travel with three or more devices. One company helping guests connect their technology with a hotel’s offerings is Shodogg. The service allows guests to sync their mobile device with a hotel television, allowing them to access their own library of movies, music, photos and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

THE LOBBY AS A TECH HUB

From offering oversize touch screens to Wii tournaments to communal tables with power jacks, the lobby is no longer just a waystation for guests.

Hotels are trying to encourage guests to spend time in lobbies by offering programming, residentialstyle furniture and plentiful electrical outlets. Even when guests want to work independently, they often want to do so around other people. All of Starwood’s Aloft properties include an Intelity ICE application on touch screens in their lobbies. Dubbed the “Cool Concierge,” guests can look up local attractions, print boarding passes and access hotel information.

FREE WI-FI

Fewer hotels charge for Wi-Fi use – appealing to younger travellers.

A poll of HotelChatter readers confirms that consumers expect free access to high-speed Internet. When asked how much they’d be willing to pay for Wi-Fi, 85% said it should be free. Today’s hotel guests want quick, easy access to online resources.

THE OFFICE AWAY FROM THE OFFICE

Hotels are creating second-space offices for business travellers and workers in their own city.

Marriott’s new Workspace on Demand program allows business travellers to book meeting space like a hotel room. The hotel chain, working with shared-office company LiquidSpace, offers the services for full-and-half days at Marriott, Renaissance and Courtyard hotels. For slightly larger groups, the “Workspring at Marriott” concept offers a new type of meeting space complete with audiovisual equipment and Wi-Fi included in the rate.

EVENT SPACES GO HIGH-TECH

Tech tools for meeting planners are becoming more sophisticated, with apps to take care of common issues during meeting and ultra high tech boardrooms and videoconferencing suites.

Marriott’s new Red Coat Direct mobile app connects meeting planners with hotel staff as events are happening to address any needs that arise, from adjusting room temperature to ordering more coffee. For virtual meetings, Starwood offers Cisco TelePresence Suite at several properties. Offered at an hourly rate, the suites offer high-definition conferencing facilities where in-person participants appear to be sitting around the same table as off-site participants and sound sensors cue cameras to show speakers, allowing a “face-to-face” meeting.