Rethinking the Guestroom

Transport to Future Customizes Guest Experience

By Ronald M. Lustig Design Architect/Principal, Earl Swensson Associates, Inc. (ESa) | November 15, 2015

As smart technologies continue to permeate every sector of our lives and Millennials grow into consumers with clout, the hotel industry is taking note. New developments are taking place and others are being imagined to keep pace with demands of this technology-savvy generation. Futuristic guestrooms will trend toward being smaller, but technology will rule to provide guests the efficiencies they prefer, the unfettered access to Wi-Fi they demand and the individual recognition they enjoy. A trip to the future is really not so far away.

Smart phones. Smart cars. Smart watches. The list goes on. Smart technologies are being interwoven into our daily lives to eliminate routine tasks and to increase efficiencies. Some smart technology goals are to make lives easier, free-up time, support sustainability, improve accuracy rates and enhance communication. The future is now, and every aspect of our daily lives is being impacted by smart technology.

As a way to better personalize and customize the hotel guest experience in accordance with the guest's lifestyle, the hotel environment is trending toward incorporating smart technologies. Not only will efficiencies be improved with advances in technology, but the industry's intent is to improve upon the guest experience with an even-more hospitable setting that will make the guest's stay feel special and tailored with individual recognition.

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Currently, Millennials represent one-fourth of the U.S. population. By 2030, it is projected that the Millennials will number 78 million in comparison to 58 million Baby Boomers. Estimates are that by 2020, Millennials will spend one-half of the money spent on the travel sector. To accommodate this up and coming generation, technology is everything. Smart phones are everything. Many Millennials say they want engaging experiences and immersive environments. As long as Wi-Fi is available, this group is content. A communal group, they will be satisfied is a small room and comfortable lobby. Instead of check-in desks, they are accepting of concierge apps and kiosks.

The founder of our architectural firm often quotes Walt Disney when Disney said, "If you can dream it, you can do it." Today, the futuristic, as yet unrealized, hotel room is closer to being a reality than a dream. Just as Disneyland is ever evolving with the introduction of new attractions, so, too, is the hospitality industry. Innovations in the delivery of service are being introduced at a rapid pace. In the competitive lodging industry, keeping up with advancements and implementing them appropriately into the different properties will be key to ROI.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.