This thought leadership article from Avendra details what hoteliers should take away from key industry shows such as CES and HITEC.
The world’s largest hospitality technology show, HITEC, is commencing in Houston this week. Coming off the heels of HITEC Amsterdam and the recent 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), these shows give the tech industry’s best and brightest a chance to promote and experience the most innovative electronic consumer products scheduled to hit the market in the coming years. Many of these innovative products can also be adapted for hospitality, particularly if owners and operators want to meet the technological needs of its future core clients.
Historically, hospitality has focused on providing a multi- generational guest experience and, therefore, has not focused on the Millennial generation’s desire for state-of-the-art technological products. However, these “cord cutters” are leading the push for a more connected world and are increasingly demanding that their hospitality experiences include the most innovative technological products. The products and innovations seen at CES for instance are still a few years away from becoming a standard, but if hoteliers want to transition to Millennial generation-focused offerings, then it must start to think about and lay the infrastructure for these products now.
Here are a few CES innovations to consider – and even watch out for – at HITEC 2018:
- 5G Networks
Leading the charge into this “new data era” is the creation of the 5G network (fifth- generation wireless broadband technology). 5G is an incredibly fast network, enabling users to download full-length movies in just a matter seconds, process information in real time, and broadcast information to nearby devices. Experts believe that 5G connectivity will lead us into the creation of smart cities and massive advances in artificial intelligence. What this means for the hospitality space is more connectivity between the guest and the hotel. Soon travelers will be able to connect to the hotel from any compatible device in real time and can use digital tools to request assistance with anything from housekeeping needs to activity planning to medical assistance. Furthermore, hoteliers will be able to track the movement of their guests and send out navigational or advertisement information in real time. Experts do not expect the capability of 5G to reach full potential until 2020, but it’s not too early for hoteliers to think about usage and deployment of 5G capability.
- Smart Home Products
Although smart cities are a vision of the future, smart home devices like the Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and other voice- activated technologies are already in a vast number of homes. Soon, hotel guests will expect to be able to order room service, call the front desk, order a cab, and turn off the lights through these devices. The 2018 CES featured a Phillips “smart” mirror which used facial recognition to give the user access to the Internet, check calendars, reply to emails, and even keep track of the user’s hygiene. For example, these mirrors can detect if you brushed your teeth that day or how much moisture is in your skin. Other smart home innovations included a wireless kitchen with a wireless charging countertop and interactive refrigerators. While many advances for this sector will be hard to transfer to the hospitality industry, as this technology becomes more integrated into home life, guests will expect the same conveniences while traveling. For example, wireless charging countertops is something many travelers would appreciate.
- Connected Operations
The idea of “Connected Operations” was also a common theme at CES. The idea of a smart building that can run more efficiently, while managing maintenance costs and reducing overhead is here. Water monitors can easily be applied to devices that can locate leaks and provide a better understanding of water usage patterns of your guests. Facial recognition technology is something that will likely make its way in the hospitality space quicker than most as this will be a great means to offer instant personalization for guests as they enter any facility.
Robots made a significant impact at CES. The idea of bringing robots into hospitality has been toyed with for a while. During the event, the Renaissance Hotel by Marriott displayed two service robots and tested them as full employees. These robots were tasked with making deliveries; a task that usually takes someone away from greeting guests or a point of sales interaction. For the time being, these robots are limited to minor functions, but as guests become more comfortable with them, the role of robots could easily be expanded. Hotels will need to update their infrastructure such as the elevators and Wi-Fi signals, so that the robots will be able to communicate within the hotel.
CES 2018 showed participants the near-term future of technological advances for consumers. As these advances become reality for the Millennial generation, the hospitality industry’s future core clients, those members of the industry which get the head start on incorporating those technologies in their product offerings will be best positioned for future success.