The rollout of 5G technology over the next few years will dramatically change how people interact and communicate. In an industry based on serving people and providing great experiences, hospitality brands that are early adopters of 5G and related new technologies can gain a real edge over competitors.
5G technology brings unprecedented speed and dramatically decreases the time it takes devices to communicate with wireless networks. It is an exponential upgrade that will hasten the adoption of technologies like IoT devices and artificial intelligence. According to the 2019 Ericsson Mobility Report, 5G will cover about 65% of the global population by 2025, and handle 45% of global mobile data traffic.
For hospitality brands, the emergence of 5G is an opportunity to redefine the guest experience from check-in to check-out, as well as retool operations and management to create new efficiencies, reduce costs, and improve decision-making.
Here are five ways 5G will transform hospitality:
Streamlined guest services. Guests will have more control of their hotel stay, making their experience feel more like their own, increasingly connected, home. They can adjust room settings from their cell phones or tablets through wireless connections. In Hilton’s Connected Rooms—about 2,000 across the country so far—guests use an app to control the temperature, lights, window shades, TV and more from their device or the TV remote. They can order a bottle of wine or book spa sessions through voice commands given to a smart hub. Hotels across the United States, from Kimpton’s Alexis Hotel in Seattle to the W Austin and the Wynn in Las Vegas, already have Amazon Alexa installed in their guest rooms and that trend will continue.
Powered up entertainment. 5G and other new technologies mean a range of new entertainment options for guests—ones they can control through their phones or voice commands. Higher speeds and faster downloads will ensure a seamless TV experience, including on-demand, live and mobile TV. Existing and new hotel services such as virtual rowing machines or spin classes can become cloud-based for guests to access on demand. Also, expect to see companies expand their use of wireless power technologies over the next few years. Many U.S. hotels already offer stations for cordless cell phone charging in their lobbies. However, expect over-the-air wireless power to break free of these zones and be seamlessly integrated into other areas like bars, gyms, and even hotel rooms to meet demand from customers who travel with increasing numbers of energy-hungry devices.
Data-driven decisions. Hospitality brands that are early adopters will be able to cut costs and increase efficiency through vastly improved data analysis. IoT sensors can monitor every aspect of the hotel experience, from room temperature to room service, which can help management hold down energy costs and guide staffing decisions. New York’s Chatwal Hotel, for example, upgraded to a smart lighting system throughout the hotel that reduced lighting energy consumption by 90%. With asset-tracking technology, staff can easily locate equipment such as luggage racks and cleaning carts. Maintenance staff can review performance information on specific devices around a property and troubleshoot repairs. 5G-enabled IoT devices can also improve food tracking and waste disposal data for restaurants and cafes, and make it possible to rely on robots for some tasks.
More interactive meetings. 5G can improve real-time collaboration for meetings by enabling new ways for attendees and speakers to interact. It can enhance meeting content and distribution through apps that enable tasks such as real-time language conversion for remote attendees. Wi-Fi that lags is a major complaint for event and meeting attendees. 5G’s fast speeds will allow for the speedy and efficient transfer of data, keeping guests happy and productive.
Truly personalized service. 5G will take customized experiences to the next level, allowing staff to send individualized messages and offers, or provide real-time assistance with directions to the property or the pool. Imagine facial recognition technology that identifies return guests as they enter the lobby, or messages sent to guests in their native languages. At two Marriott hotel locations in China, guests can check-in at a kiosk that uses facial recognition technology to scan their faces, identify them, and give them a key card in about a minute. This increased use of automation from the time guests arrive until they depart will allow individuals to decide how much interaction with the staff they prefer.
As time goes on, it will be clear to consumers which hotels have embraced innovation and which ones have lagged behind. Giving guests an experience they enjoy is the goal of every hospitality brand and 5G is the game-changing way they can reach it.