Hoteliers are always quick to employ new technology to help smooth operations and serve guests. Technology also can be used to help hotels standout from the crowd. While technology like free Wi-Fi and on-demand TV—once special features—have become commonplace amenities, there are ways hotels can use technology to engage guests and enhance their stays.
Equipping rooms with the latest tech gadgets, and placing those gadgets directly into guests’ hands, can make any hotel seem cutting edge. Here are five innovative gadgets for hotel guests in 2016.
1. Smart Mirrors
Smart mirrors are sure to wow even the most tech-savvy guests. While they look like a typical bathroom mirror, smart mirrors feature touch-screen technology that allows guests to check email, social media feeds, headlines, sports scores, weather forecasts, and more as they get ready for their day, or as they brush their teeth at night. Another option for bathroom mirrors is the television mirror. With the push of a button, a hidden television pops up in the mirror, allowing guests to listen to the news or sports highlights, or enjoy their favorite show.
2. Tablet Controls
By no means are tablets a new innovation sure to impress guests. But a tablet-controlled hotel room sure could. Some hotels are using tablets to allow their guests to control all aspects of their hotel visit. Hotel room tablets can come loaded with apps that allow guests to schedule spa services, make restaurant reservations, ask questions of the concierge, or book transportation to the airport. In some rooms, the tablets are connected to the rest of the room’s technology, allowing guests to turn lights on and off, open and close blinds, control the television, and set the room temperature.
3. Virtual Reality
Virtual reality has been the talk of the tech world for the last year. A line-up of mainstream virtual reality headsets is hitting the market this year, and people are eager to give them a try. Hotels can use the technology to engage guests in a variety of ways. Virtual reality headsets loaded with videos on local attractions and experiences could be used by guests to plan their itineraries. They could be borrowed out to guests to use for entertainment purposes. Headsets can be placed in lobbies or other common areas for guests to watch videos or explore virtual reality apps. Some hotels are even equipping their fitness rooms with virtual reality headsets loaded with fitness apps that allow guests to take a virtual run or bike ride through a variety of landscapes.
Radio-frequency identification, or RFID, is another technology hotels are beginning to explore to enhance guest experiences. RFID transfers data wirelessly. That means that if hotel guests carry key fobs with RFID tags, hotel employees can receive a blast of information about that guest as he or she approaches. Aloft hotels have begun placing RFID stickers under carpets near guests’ beds so that when the guests stand up in the middle of the night, the bathroom light turns on automatically. The stickers also can be attached to room service carts so when the carts are returned to the hallway by guests, hotel staff will be notified that the cart is ready for removal.
It may sound futuristic and farfetched, but several high-end hotels, including Aloft Cupertino and Caesars Entertainment’s The LINQ Hotel, have added robots to their staff. The robots can entertain hotel guests with a sense of the novel, but they also can play a practical role. The LINQ’s robot, with its touch-screen display, can provide guests with directions and restaurant information. Aloft’s robot, along with others like it, perform room-service duties by delivering requested items, such as toothbrushes or extra towels, to guests’ rooms. Of course, both hotels report that guests enjoy photo ops and playful interactions with the robots.
Bonus: Gadget Library
While it may not be an attention-grabbing technology feature, one thing hotels can do to provide their guests with gadgets is to create a gadget library of items guests may want to use during their stay. Keeping laptops, tablets, eReaders, digital cameras, as well as an assortment of charging cords available for guests can be a great way to accommodate guests who accidentally leave a device at home or guests who prefer to travel lightly.
A hotel equipped with technology gadgets can dazzle guests, making their stay stand out as a travel experience. At the same time, it’s important to keep in mind that gadgets that are used to engage guests in the hotel experience have to be more than a novelty; the best gadgets enhance and enrich guests’ experiences.
About the Author
Abi Mandelbaum is co-founder and CEO of YouVisit, a fully integrated platform for creating, distributing, and monetizing virtual reality and other immersive experiences across all devices.