Guest experience is driving room for improvement across the industry.

Electronic key cards? Ubiquitous. Motion-sensing bathroom lights? Whatever. Remote control curtains? Stayed there, done that. When it comes to leveraging the power of advanced technology to enhance the guest experience, the hotel industry hasn’t exactly been on the edge of innovation, but that’s changing.

Interactive hotel technology is top-of-mind for properties across the business and leisure spectrum, and some tech-tacular new perks are in the works to elevate the experience and lasting impressions for attendees of your upcoming meetings and events.

For many brands, it’s all about convenience and using available technology to streamline check-in and simplify room access. Hilton’s new digital key requires only a smartphone and a Bluetooth connection to open the guest-room door. Starwood is also upping its game by updating its mobile app with real-time room notifications and functionality with Apple Watch.

Hilton is leveraging hotel technology to achieve its mission to deliver exceptional experiences one advancement at a time. CMO Geraldine Calpin explains that being a legacy brand, Hilton has always arrived early at the technology party: “Innovation has always been the bedrock of our brand. For example, we were the first hotels with air conditioning and TVs in guest rooms… We may be nearly a century old, but we think like the customers we serve today and we’re all about delivering exceptional experiences in new ways.”

Popular digital personal assistants are also making their voices heard across the lodging industry. For example, Amazon’s Echo is now being used by some hoteliers to improve guest experience. Tom Long, General Manager at the Westin Buffalo, is excited about how hotel technology is shaping the future of business and leisure travel. “I just think it’s inevitable that it’s going to be integrated into this industry and into a lot of industries,” he said. “It’s exciting to be a part of it in this early stage.

As technology evolves and interactive experiences become more commonplace to our daily lives, traditional perks may begin to fade into history. In fact, research shows that luxury is now seen as experience and not just a statement of wealth.  Gone are the days when savvy, seasoned business travelers and event participants looked forward to chocolates on pillowcases and towels folded into flamingos.

Audiences need to have their attention captured, and using hotel technology to cut through the clutter to deliver a clear message is more important than ever. This mindset is driving companies to expand the definitions of luxury to deliver the business results they want from their meetings and events.

Digital wall art that can be set to showcase family photos. Mirror-embedded displays for on-demand yoga lessons. How about a connected, interactive shower door that doubles as a guest’s personal whiteboard? They’re all coming soon to a hotel near you and on continents around the globe. Some chains are even setting sail for entirely new horizons in immersive experiences.

According to Bjorn Hanson, clinical professor at NYU’s Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism, the technology industry is leading the way, and hotels are tapping into it to elevate the stature of their brands. “Luxury hotels need to do more,” says Hanson. “We get ironing boards and bathrobes everywhere, don’t need business centers, and even the concierge has become irrelevant,” he explains. Experiences, though, are a winnable space.”

So how will hotel technology affect you in the near future? Consider the millennial population: 78% say they would rather spend money on an experience or event over buying material goods. Imagine you’re a planner challenged to design an event for a technology-forward company that will thank, reward, excite, wow, and keep them thinking, “I work for the best company in the world.” You’ll map out an elite destination, craft a once-in-a-lifetime itinerary, and polish the end-to-end experience with white gloves. And soon, you’ll have a hotel partner with products and services already in place to help you do some of the heavy lifting… like showers that remember a guest’s preferred temperature!

Clearly, hotel technology is driving the human experience of hospitality and enhancing the opportunities for meeting planners to build relationships and strengthen bonds with their most important assets. Working with the right partners can help you tap into a future ripe with possibility and laden with technology-rich experiences that can help you to grow your brand and achieve company goals.

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