Posted By HEDNA News team,
Tuesday, September 4, 2018
The Connected Room has been long in coming. Hotels have been gradually implementing connectivity that brings more services into the guest experience.
It wasn’t too long ago that searching the phrase “connected room” would surface definitions of adjoining rooms that could be “connected” together. Today, the phrase evokes feelings of the future of hotel technology, where the room is full of smart devices that speak to each other across hotel systems.
In 2012, Hyatt Hotels developed the television into the center of a connected guest experience. And now, in the age of ubiquitous smartphones with LTE connections, the mobile device has dethroned the television as the center of the connected guest experience.
In late 2017, Hilton announced an ambitious initiative to pull various pieces of the hotel room into a centralized control interface: the HHonors app.
At select hotels, the Hilton app controls a variety of things in a Hilton hotel room, such as the climate control, lighting, and curtains. Preferences can be saved, so that the room is always perfect upon arrival. Entertainment is also customizable, with access to streaming services and preferred channels making it easier for guests to quickly access the content they want. All that functionality is in addition to the Digital Key, which opens 1.5 hotel doors a second across 3,400 Hilton properties.
"At Hilton, almost all digital products are born out of necessity and shortcomings in the marketplace - and Connected Room is no exception", said Joshua Sloser, Senior Vice President of Digital Product, Hilton. "The technology we put in hotel rooms has to be intuitive, simple and quick to pick up because guests typically spend a limited amount of time in their rooms and we want them to spend that time enjoying the experience instead of adapting to new technology."
The benefits for the connected room are especially clear when considered through a loyalty-program lens: members are able to save settings and have each room set to personal preferences at check-in. Loyalty now revolves around the app and its user experience.
This not only incentivizes non-member guests to join HHonors but also solidifies brand loyalty for existing members. When the experience truly is personalized, some guests will indeed be more likely to return.
The hotel room ensures that the tech-averse guest has another option: each room has a remote control so that the app isn’t needed for basic room functions.
The integrated remote control has been simplified, similar to an Apple TV remote, to nearly eliminate the learning curve. And room controls also exist in the TV, giving guests several ways to control functions.
Interoperability has become the driving force behind recent investments in hotel technology. This is because guests expect a frictionless experience across the hotel experience.
This guest expectation requires hospitality brands to develop in-house solutions that manage a complex variety of functions. It also necessitates additional capital expenditures to upgrade existing hotel rooms so that in-room entertainment and amenities all work together.
It’s also important for connected room technology to be as future proof as possible. Hilton says its positioned for this by considering its technology initiatives as a platform for future innovation:
“We can push new features, apps, and functionality to existing devices over time without the need to deploy additional hardware. For guests, this means that in the longer term they'll be able to do things such as upload their photos and art to display digitally in the room, or connect to new devices. They’ll also be able to enjoy new features much faster than we could roll out these capabilities today.”
Voice control is on the horizon, says Hilton, with guests potentially being able to access saved content or control room features.
The pace of adoption for guest-facing technology is only accelerating. We’re at an inflection point for hotel technology. Hotels are making bets on distinctive technologies, with technology-enabled experiences becoming a competitive advantage in a crowded global field of hospitality brands.