Hotel Rooms of the Future
How today’s technologies are paving the way to tomorrow’s accommodations.
Touch-screen windows, retractable furniture and virtual butlers may seem like far-fetched amenities for a hotel room, but students at hospitality-management school École Hôtelière de Lausanne, in Switzerland, have already begun to brainstorm how these features could be integrated into a guest’s stay. Thanks to The Future of Hospitality, a concept video the school released earlier this year, everyone can get a glimpse of what the future could have in store for guests. The clip shows a woman in a hotel room using touch screens embedded in the windows to adjust the lights, order room service and more. Even the view out the windows can be changed to show a mountain landscape or a brook. A virtual concierge also appears via video phone to remind the guest of her agenda.
Though still largely theoretical, the ideas behind the technologies shown in The Future of Hospitality—highly personalized spaces and streamlined amenities—are being put into practice today. For example, each room at a Citizen M hotel is equipped with a tablet that allows guests to control the temperature, television and lighting. Although guests may not have previously used a tablet in this way, most have used tablets before, and that familiarity can encourage guests to try out this technology. According to Ian Millar, senior lecturer of hospitality technology at École Hôtelière de Lausanne, products that are intuitive are the most likely to have an impact. “[Smart appliances and technologies] will enhance the guest experience if they are simple to use,” Millar says. “The challenge is how to implement technology that an 18- or 80-year-old can use easily.”
Technology is changing guest services via voice activation as well. The Wynn Las Vegas has added Amazon Echo, a smart speaker, into each room, which could reduce labor costs associated with concierge assistance and room service. As with many new technologies, there are potential guest apprehensions to consider before moving forward. “There may be a trust barrier whereby guests are concerned that [Echo’s always-on microphone] will be constantly recording what goes on in the room,” Millar says. He advises properties providing such devices to be transparent about them and allow guests to remove the speaker if they choose.
For resorts installing new technologies, Millar recommends managing guest expectations and providing analog options. “Opening the guest room with your phone will happen in the future, but some guests will always want a key card,” Millar says. Offering a variety of choices can help guests personalize their stay and give them time to experiment with new enhancements, bringing us one step closer to the highly customizable hotel room of the future.
Image credit: Courtesy of École Hôtelière de Lausanne