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How to Meet Evolving Hotel Guest Expectations

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Marybeth Pearce, Executive Director, Hospitality Technology Sales, Comcast Business

Our research suggests that hospitality guest expectations are evolving more rapidly than ever, in favor of self service, personalization, and convenience. How can a network partner help hospitality brands meet these and other expectations?

The rules of the hotel game are changing post-pandemic. To meet guest expectations as travel increases, hotels will need to leverage automation and deliver services in a hands-free fashion. Hotel loyalty apps will play a significant role in providing self-service check-in and guest convenience. 

That means fast, reliable WiFi in common areas and guest rooms and similarly robust networks for back-office systems, including high-speed Internet connections. Network security must be top-of-mind to help protect against threats like malware, phishing attacks, and ransomware.

 Our data confirms once again that free Wi-Fi is preferred by nearly every hotel guest. We are eager to look beyond that baseline expectation to understand what’s on the horizon for connectivity? How will 5G, for instance, enhance guest experience and operations?

A recent study by J.D. Power showed that one hotel amenity guests can’t live without is WiFi as over 80% accessed the internet from their room. This is why a solid Wi-Fi network is critical not only to guest satisfaction and convenience, but also for back of house operations.

In certain hotel situations and environments, 5G can be a valuable supplement to a robust WiFi network. 5G will allow for immersive video experiences, digital signage throughout the hotel and real-time information about activities, events and availability at full service hotels.

How do you see IoT impacting the industry today and in the future?

Hotels are increasingly adopting IoT solutions to modernize operations, manage costs, drive guest satisfaction and help ensure employee safety.

 Property management systems (PMS) are being expanded to bring IoT-based automation to rooms, enabling control of drapes, lights, temperature, television and more. This drives an enhanced guest experience, but also allows for operational efficiencies via remote energy management when the rooms are not occupied. There is also an increased focus and regulatory pressure on advancing employee safety via rapid response solutions, which can be powered via IoT sensors.    

Succeeding with smart technologies, however, requires each hotel to have a reliable, flexible, and secure IT infrastructure. Leveraging a network connectivity platform to integrate various IoT sensors as use cases expand will be critical for hoteliers that want to embrace IoT but also effectively manage cost of adoption.

What emerging technologies ought to be on hospitality operators’ radar as they look toward 2023 investments and implementations?

Contactless solutions for an end-to-end digital experience continues to be a top technology that will transform the hotel space. Options for contactless engagement seem to be endless: voice automation and recognition at check-in and in-room support, facial recognition for room check-in and access, and contactless payment methods are just a few areas being explored and implemented.  

In guest-facing spaces, smart digital assistants also rank among the top priorities for transforming the current hotel landscape. This caters to the technology preferences of the millennial generation, while also addressing the labor challenges the industry will continue to face. Augmented reality engagements strategically placed throughout the hotel and within the guest room can offer a guest an enhanced experience that quickly provides them information about the hotel and their room, as well as the surrounding area. Virtual assistants via Kiosks and Digital Signage is another way guests are interacting, removing the traditional engagement at the check-in desk.



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