After two days at HITEC 2011 in Austin, Texas, it’s clear that the hospitality industry’s top techies have a keen understanding of the direction hoteliers are seeking to take as they move on through a slow-moving economic recovery. While there isn’t much in the way of an specific theme to this year’s gathering of top technology suppliers, hotel technologists, and other assorted hoteliers, it’s easy to see that the technology on display is geared toward hoteliers’ quests to satisfy the emerging ways of today’s travelers.
What’s hot here, besides the stifling Austin heat? I’ve seen several solutions designed to enhance the guest experience in the modern age, including mobile technology, self-service options, cloud computing, even new ways to look at the oft-maligned hotel telephone.
We know that hotels want to create differentiation for themselves. One popular use of technology has become methods for creating self-service options. While some industry observes have attempted to paint the influx of technologies such as mobile check-in and interactive digital signage as an inevitable end to the front desk, exhibitors here are universally saying not so fast.
In conversations with makers of technology to let travelers receive and check-in via their mobile device, many reiterated the need to look upon self-service options as merely that—options, at least for now. I’m of the opinion that guests what when technology when they want it, and when they don’t, they want it out of the way. That leaves the hospitality industry in a transitional stage where self-service technology needs to be readily available to guests, but old-stand-bys, such as a front desk attendant or a concierge, still need to be close by.
That’s not to say that these technologies aren’t impressive, especially when it comes to creating cost efficiency for hotel operations. And, there are plenty of RFID, NFC, and other wireless technologies and software solutions that make such operations extremely useful to today’s hoteliers. From tracking linens to managing reservations to economical room controls, the technology on hand is designed to save hoteliers money, while simultaneously increasing revenues.
That’s surely something hoteliers have in their plans for the next few years, and technology suppliers here at HITEC 2011 are showing their up to the task.
Look for more coverage and analysis from HITEC 2011 in the coming days.