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Guestroom Tech: A Budget Black Hole?

All spend, and no incremental income; that’s what guestroom technology is looking like for many hotel companies, according to HT’s “2012 Lodging Technology Study.” Hotels are racing to the innovation table to figure out how to add the right type of functionality to the guest room, without the promise of more revenue. Revenues from in-room telephone use and pay-per-view television content have all but dried up, and charging for in-room HSIA is under fire (in fact, a dwindling 16% of mid-scale hotels still charge  for HSIA).

Yet despite these challenges, in-room technology continues to account for the largest spending portion of a hotel’s overall IT budget. HT’s survey of hotel executives found that just over 20% of the overall tech budget goes into the guestroom, followed by property management tools at 18.4%.

Inside the guestroom, hotels are clamoring to increase bandwidth and provide high-def television content. Plus, more than 60% of the industry will be buying or upgrading their flat screen televisions within the next 12-24 months. Capital-hungry projects such as these can quickly consume large portions of tech funding; however, the return on investment falls into the ‘soft’ category.

One trend capturing attention for both the application and the novelty are tablet computers provided as an in-room amenity. Several boutique brands began supplying them to run a variety of service-oriented and concierge-like applications. Although interest is high, current implementation rates are hovering around 5% industry-wide. However, tablets are a rising trend that may unlock additional revenue (from hotel spa services or f&b delivery, for example). Nearly one-third (29%) of hotel executives in the HT study plan to offer tablet computers in guest rooms within the next three years.

A panel of hotel executives will tackle some of the biggest challenges hitting guest-room tech at this year’s Hotel Technology Forum, taking place April 18-20, 2012 at Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. The panel will be moderated by Scot Campbell, CIO of Pinnacle Entertainment.
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