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CONNECT ASSOCIATION MAGAZINE – High-Tech Hotels Go Mainstream

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Constant connectivity, guest-driven content and seamless transactions are top trends in high-tech hotels as savvy operators capitalize on the appeal of high-touch service to millennials and Gen Z guests.

“‘Bring your own content’ is the trend of today,” says Kirk Pederson, president of Kokua Hospitality, which manages San Francisco’s tech-forward Axiom Hotel. “Additionally, more people travel with multiple devices requiring increased bandwidth, and today’s traveler does not want buffering.” 

 Addressing these needs, Axiom equips each of its 152 guest rooms with a 48-inch Smart TV allowing guests to mirror their device, streaming content directly into their room. Each room also has an individual router providing up to 15 Mbps of bandwidth to maximize productivity on multiple devices.

Similarly, the 242-room Godfrey Hotel in Boston introduced InnSpire, a sophisticated guest media-streaming technology, upon opening last year. InnSpire allows guests to use mobile devices to stream photos, email, videos and music directly to their 55-inch Samsung HDTV without downloading any special app. “We believe well thought-out and executed technology within the hotel enhances the personal touch and service our guests look for,” says Paul Sauceda, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing.

Guests at Aloft New Orleans Downtown take advantage of similar content-streaming technology through Google Chromecast’s RoomCast technology. “Our guests are tech-driven, travel with three to five devices and want high-speed Wi-Fi in all public spaces,” says Kristi Taglauer, general manager of the 188-room hotel. “RoomCast makes use of a room-specific private IP address and is easy to use.”

Another tech amenity making inroads is the ability to bypass the front desk altogether and check in remotely through a mobile device. The Godfrey offers this feature with OpenKey. “Guests use the app to check in and select or upgrade rooms based upon availability,” explains Sauceda, who likened the experience to mobile airline check-in.

If quicker is better, the new 452-room LondonHouse Chicago takes that to heart by nearly eliminating elevator lines. The hotel’s Destination Dispatch elevators expedite travel time using smart technology to group guests by floor request. LondonHouse guests also have the latest in high-tech fitness with Technogym equipment, which have screens functioning as both entertainment centers and workstations.

Hotel meeting facilities are upping their tech game as well. Meeting rooms at the Axiom, for example, have giant 70-inch flat-screen smart TVs allowing up to 15 presenters using Crestron wireless technology. Attendees also find workstations with multiple USB charging ports in meeting rooms, plus fully integrated audiovisual systems for remote attendees.

Meeting planners and travelers don’t need to look too far into the future to explore voice-enabled cognitive hotel room and robot concierges.

At CES 2017 in Las Vegas, Harman and IBM’s Watson showcased how artificial intelligence and voice commands can be used to control everything from lighting and thermostats to alarm clocks, TVs and music. Guests ask questions to the device (it looks like an upscale clock/radio), such as, “What room is my meeting in, and what time does it start?” The device learns from repeated use, is multilingual and provides efficient services like wake-up calls and opening the blinds.

“Guest room control solutions with remotes and voice command are becoming standard expectations,” says Adam Holladay, director of hospitality solutions and marketing for Harman. “Even more significant is the ability to interface with hotel operating systems to enhance the guest experience beyond their room, such as having the valet bring the car up or texting your room to optimize the temperature when you return for the day.”

 

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