Dear hoteliers: Make technology a priority, please
 
Dear hoteliers: Make technology a priority, please
29 SEPTEMBER 2017 7:14 AM

The message from industry conferences is often that guests want the same or better technology in their rooms as they’d see at their homes. In my experience, the industry at large doesn’t live up to that standard.

So if you couldn’t tell from my recent story about the need for investment in technology, I recently attended HTNG’s North American Insight Summit. Technology-focused conferences are always interesting events, especially if you’re someone like me who regularly travels to industry conferences where you hear a lot of the same topics rehashed in various ways.

There are a lot of interesting and pertinent topics and technologies (such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and wireless charging) that hoteliers should have on their radar and that I’ll be writing about soon. However, more than anything, events like this serve as a reminder of just how monumental the gap is between the hotel industry and the tech industry, and to a certain extent tech in hotels and consumers’ expectations.

To that last point, it still amazes me that I can walk into my hotel room and see an alarm clock with old 30-pin docks. I suppose those would be useful if I chose to travel with the iPod I bought in 2004, but I’m pretty sure that doesn’t work anymore.

And it’s not just a few hotels that still have this blatantly outdated technology featured so prominently. In my experience, it’s most.

This small detail is enough for me to feel like my room, and by extension the entire property, is woefully out of date, and that is only going to get worse. I understand hoteliers’ reluctance to invest in new clocks that are designed specifically for certain devices since things grow obsolete so quickly and there are a variety of different connectors for different smartphones.

But at the same time, if what I heard at this recent conference is to be believed, we’re on the precipice of wireless charging becoming the dominant consumer preference (especially after Apple’s adoption of it with the new iPhone model), and hotels still haven’t caught up to the current generation.

I heard from thought leaders all the time that the standard and expectation for guests these days is that the level of technology and integration of their own devices in guestrooms is that it’s on par with what they experience at home. But more often than not, I’m not seeing that in practice. More often than not in the hotels space, even in higher-end properties, technology is a hindrance to the experience and not an enabler.

There are obviously exceptions to this, and plenty of properties out there that seek to be on the bleeding edge for technology, but it’d be nice if we could get to the point as an industry where that isn’t a novelty and is instead the expectation.

I wrote just a couple of weeks ago about my early experiences with mobile roomkeys and how that has seen a frustratingly slow adoption. Let me urge hoteliers to not do the same thing with other appealing guest-facing technologies like wireless charging.

What do you think? Let me know via email or on Twitter.

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