Hotel Technology – Are You Up to Speed?

Boomers – move over – you are about to be replaced.  By 2020, forty-six percent of the workforce will be the Millennial Generation.  This generation wants a different type of hotel than their parents and the hotel industry is listening to them.  Hotel designs are changing so if you are a Boomer that travels, get ready to change.

The Millennials want hotels that are more of a social hub with malleability for both work and play.  Hotels are being designed with cafes, bars, work stations and more.   There is an interactive area to gather around, socialize with others or just to be around an activity of people while working or connecting with friends.  The more engaged guests tend to share their experience with their friends on social media building a crowd of repeat customers.  They like their work spaces more as public areas, eliminating the need for large hotel rooms.  Those large desks that catered to the Boomers are not needed in rooms anymore.  Bulky TVs have been replaced by thin flat screens and stand-up showers are preferred to bathtubs.

Hoteliers are changing the physical assets of the hotels as well.  Those old-school Point of Sales (POS) systems including the reception desk are being replaced with mobile check in.  Approximately 75% of guests travel with one or more mobile devices and that percentage is even higher among 25-35 year olds. Over the next 3-5 years, Generation Y travelers will make up more than half of the guests checking-in to hotels, casinos & resorts and they will interact with the hotel systems for everything thing from their phone.  Charging for internet services – your business is about to go limp – give it away and they will come.

Hotels that fail to implement software systems that are mobile compatible will soon be considered “dinosaurs” and be avoided by this demographic. Recently, Fontainebleau Miami developed StayNTouch to integrate with its Opera PMS system that runs the 1,500-key hotel. This two-way system enables guests to confirm room reservations, advise of last minute requests, text them when their room is ready and securely check-out, all without having to download an app.

Marriott International will be the first hotel company to offer Apple Pay to its guests in the summer of 2015.  Millions of customers already use the Marriott Hotel App to book rooms, check-in and check-out; now, Apple Pay will make it virtually effortless to be a hotel patron because there will be no need to provide a credit card upon check-in.   In fact you may not even need to visit the front desk – find your room number and go directly to the room and open the door all with your phone.  The registration desk is heading to the relic pile like the “buggy whip”.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is taking this flexibility to a higher level by allowing guests with Apple, Android or Blackberry to open their hotel-room door with their device.  Prior to arriving, the Starwood “preferred guest” downloads and registers through the SPG app. When the room is ready, the guest will receive a message through the app with their room number and Bluetooth key. When in front of the door, the guest can open the app, place the device up to the door lock and open their hotel room.

The “acceleration rate” for incorporation of technology into our daily lives is faster each day.  Think about it – the smart phone was introduced less than 8 years ago.  In that short time the world has gone from one device to over 5 Billion devices.   The Millennials use of technology is driving every marketplace.  Is your firm ready to do business with the more than 80 Million US Millennials?

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Sterling Pointe – Hampton Inn & Suites, Dunwoody, GA