Hotels are investing in new technologies that will simplify and enhance the guest experience while driving business. For Lodging’s June cover story, I spoke with industry members about the various technologies their hotels and brands have embraced. Pete Sears, senior vice president of North America operations for Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, talked about our 24/7 digital world, and how quickly technology changes.
We discussed Hyatt’s March announcement that it would be transforming standard in-room televisions into fully connected, interactive entertainment centers and virtual concierges at its full-service properties across the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean.
Sears also highlighted other technologies the company is looking at. Hyatt has been testing a program called Express Welcome at a few of its North American properties. A select group of Hyatt’s Gold Passport members have received new loyalty cards embedded with an RFID chip. On the day of arrival, these guests receive an email invitation for online check in and have the option to use their Gold Passport card as their room key. Travelers who choose this option will receive a text or email from the property with their room number, which allows them to bypass the front desk.
“The system notifies us when the guest has arrived so we can call and welcome them and ensure that their accommodations meet their needs,” Sears explains. “Feedback so far has been outstanding. This is more tailored toward the road warrior—the person that’s visiting our hotels on a regular basis.”
At Andaz properties, employees have been using tablets for guest check in and check out since the inception of the brand in 2007. Keys are made, folios are emailed or printed right from the iPad, and there are no front desks. Instead, there is a lounge where staff members welcome arriving travelers and thank them for their business when they leave.
“The days of hiding behind a 50-foot granite front desk and having this barrier between you and your customer—I think that’s evolving and changing pretty quickly,” Sears says.
To read more about innovative technologies at hotels, check out the June issue of Lodging, download the digital editions, or download the Lodging app a the Apple iTunes Store.