HOTEL APPS AND OTHER HOSPITALITY TECH TRENDS

From convenient hotel apps to updated in-room technology, look out for the latest in technologies on your next getaway.

By Ashley Richardson

AAA World Article

Technology is changing and permeating almost every aspect of our lives. How we travel or where we stay is no different. People expect more from their home away from home experiences—better technology, seamless services, more accessibility. Free Wi-Fi is no longer the perk of a fancy hotel, it is the bare minimum for a guest to book their stay. In recent years, the hospitality industry has shifted to meet these needs and expectations. From user-friendly hotel apps to new strides in hotel room technology, guests can expect much more from their getaway bookings.

Here are the top hospitality tech trends you can expect to see much more of in the near future.

VIRTUAL REALITY 
Virtual reality isn’t just for gamers anymore. For consumers, virtual reality is a new way to plan a vacation. Some virtual reality travel apps allow you to explore the major attractions, sights, and sounds of a destination, or “visit” a hotel room before you book. But, travel apps aren’t just about paying customers either. Companies like British Airways and Marriott are already experimenting with the applications of virtual reality as a marketing tool and more. In the future, consumers can expect hotel apps to feature virtual reality tours to make a booking that much easier.

HOTEL APPS 
While hotel apps don’t have the ability to provide VR experiences (yet), they have still evolved drastically from the traditional “find and book a room” function we’re used to. Large hotel chains are focused on using their mobile platforms to create very specific and unique experiences for their guests. And some apps like Hilton Honors feature cool perks, including the ability for guests to book an Uber ride to the hotel, request certain amenities upon arrival, and use their cellphones as a door key. Other apps focus on providing members with perks and savings, sort of like an airline. Check out some of the most successful hotel apps here and look out for more in the future.

HOTEL ROOM TECHNOLOGY 
Outside of smart room keys that allow guests to unlock their suites with mobile phones, hotel room technology can expect to get even more futuristic. Gone are the days of hanging “Do Not Disturb Signs” on the outside of your doors. Instead, hotels are turning to infrared scanners to minimize housekeeping-related disturbances. The infrared scanners will be able to detect when occupants are in the room and inform cleaning staff to come back later. And that’s still just the half of it. Many hotels plan on investing in better toys—that means bigger, better (and most likely “smart”) TVs, larger bandwidth for all the electronics guests travel with, smart thermostats that allow guests to change room temperature from their phone, mp3 docking stations and texting concierge. Pretty soon our hotel rooms will feel as connected and integrated as our homes.

SERVICE AUTOMATION 
Self-service is trending, and the level of communication people perform through technology is constantly increasing. This change has left many individuals preferring to complete simple tasks through electronic devices in lieu of human interaction. Naturally, the hospitality industry has begun to shift in that direction. Remote check-in and check-out is already a feature on many hotel apps, and many chains are beginning to experiment with ordering room service from mobile devices. In fact, in the near future, many basic guest requests could be handled electronically. Some may worry that automation will take out a key component of a hotel stay—hospitality. But, if done right, automation might actually free up hotel staff to focus on other areas of the guest experience.

While hotels aren’t being run by robots (yet), if Aloft Cupertino’s robot butler (Botlr) is any indication, the hospitality industry is definitely headed in that direction. And whether this new reality will be a futuristic version of the Jetsons or an iRobot nightmare waiting to happen, has yet to be determined.