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6 Technologies that Will Transform the Hotel Experience

Whether it’s Domino’s creating an app that automatically orders a customer’s favorite pizza or Nike adapting user workout plans based on goal progress, personalized experiences driven by technology are fueling growth in every industry. The hospitality industry is no exception, and many hotel guests are no longer satisfied with being anonymous occupants. Guests now expect every aspect of a hotel stay to be tailored to their needs and preferences.
Oracle's "Hotel 2025" study revealed that hotel operators are open to almost anything to meet evolving consumer demands. Hoteliers are experimenting with facial recognition software, voice-activated controls, wearable devices, and virtual reality.
New technology in the hospitality industry offers an incredible opportunity to personalize services in ways that weren't possible a few years ago. This potential was apparent during the Consumer Electronics Show this year, where vendors exhibited impressive creations set to change the way hotels operate.
There were solutions present for everything from keyless entry into hotel rooms via smartphones or facial recognition to infrared cameras and sensors that detect whether a room is occupied and automatically adjust lights and thermostats. In addition to improving guest experiences, many of these technological advances could save hotel operators money.
The Next Evolution in Hotel Accommodations
Hoteliers who can smartly implement new technologies stand to gain a tremendous competitive advantage. To stay ahead of the rapid pace of change, take steps to prepare for these coming technologies:
1. 5G: The next generation of mobile broadband allows users to transfer thousands of photos in seconds while eliminating cumbersome docks and cords. The new mobile wireless standard will provide the backbone for an army of connected devices entering the market, including vehicles and appliances. Expansive connectivity is important for guests and hotel operators alike, and 5G service will vastly outpace 4G connections.
2. The Internet of Things: By 2020, the number of connected devices on the market is expected to reach 30.7 billion. Considering how many thermostats, lightbulbs, and appliances are in the average hotel, the IoT promises to slash costs and improve efficiency.

Carnival Cruise Line has used the IoT to automate operations. Guests receive a medallion that allows them to interact with the ship and open doors, and the same technology helps staff members provide more personalized experiences.
3. Artificial Intelligence: AI and personal assistants have numerous uses, but they can completely change the way companies build marketing plans. Hotel chains can use AI to handle large-scale customer segmentation, market research, and media planning. This approach can lower the cost of data-driven marketing while improving performance.
4. Voice Search: Sales of personal assistant devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home are expected to soon reach $2 billion (with no end in sight). While these devices represent an exciting new touchpoint between hotels and travelers in terms of search optimization, they also make it easier for guests to access in-room controls. Wynn Las Vegas, for example, is adding the Amazon Echo to 4,700 rooms.
5. Virtual/Augmented Reality: Guests are eager to "experience" a room before they make a reservation. Virtual and augmented reality could provide potential guests with immersive tours capable of selling a hotel better than any marketing materials. VR tours can serve as an appealing way to differentiate your brand. While VR headsets have not achieved mainstream success, the technology is poised to make tremendous gains over the next several years.
6. Security and Privacy: Hotel operators who are eager to embrace connected devices need to make similar investments in cybersecurity. I was particularly impressed with the Norton Core consumer-focused router designed to interface with Norton’s security software in the cloud. The Core is able to protect every single IoT device in a given household, and I suspect commercial counterparts are not far behind. A data breach can devastate even the most established hotel, so don’t let enthusiasm blind you to risks.
As the ordinary increasingly becomes unacceptable, consumers will expect every hotel experience to become seamless and singular. These six technologies are uniquely suited to meet evolving consumer demands and the ongoing needs of hotels. Hoteliers who plan, invest, and experiment early are in a prime position to fill every room.
Michael Innocentin is vice president of e-commerce and digital for AccorHotels, a world-leading travel and lifestyle group and digital innovator. It offers unique experiences in more than 4,000 hotels, resorts, and residences, and more than 2,500 of the finest private homes around the globe.
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