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Smart is the way

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Hotel technology innovations that will drive business in 2016

Hotel technology presents seemingly endless possibilities, but hoteliers shouldn’t invest in technology for technology’s sake. Smart hoteliers should start planning how they’re going to make a splash this year, and evaluate new technology that will help get guests through their doors to drive sales. Below are three cutting-edge technologies that will help hotels drive more business in 2016.

Smart controls

In the past several years, hotel smartphone apps have become industry standard; however, forward-thinking hotels are taking apps one step further by giving guests the ability to control their rooms with their smartphones.

While smart controls have been steadily growing in popularity, they’re now going mainstream, with big-name hotel chains such as Starwood, Hilton and Marriott allowing guests to use their smartphones to access hotel rooms and hotel services. At all three chains, guests can use their smartphones as room keys, unlocking room doors and guest-only areas such as fitness rooms and pools.

Other hotels, such as Virgin Hotel in Chicago, enables guests to use their smartphones to control room temperatures, adjust room lighting, and change the channels on their televisions.

Hotels could take smart controls further, allowing guests to personalise their rooms in advance. Via the hotel’s app, an upcoming guest could pre-set their room temperature and lighting preferences, and even select what they would like to have available in their mini bar.

Virtual reality

The virtual reality market is set to explode in 2016. Led by Facebook-owned Oculus, it’s estimated that 14 million virtual reality headsets will be sold in 2016, according to tech industry market researcher TrendForce. That will increase to 38 million virtual reality headsets being sold worldwide by 2020, Trendforce has predicted.

As travellers plan their trips or event planners select their locations, virtual reality could help potential customers see themselves in your hotel.

A virtual reality tour can walk potential guests through your hotel, showcasing your suites, spa, restaurants, pool, and other areas that attract customers. For event planners, a virtual reality tour can place them directly in your event spaces, allowing them to see the possibilities for their function, whether it’s a business conference or a
wedding.

With the low-cost Google Cardboard, which turns any smartphone into a virtual reality headset, hotels can use virtual reality experiences to market directly to customers. Companies, from tour planners to universities, have sent branded Cardboard headsets to potential customers with directions for taking their virtual reality tours. Hotels are using virtual reality for more than just marketing.

Value-added technology

While some hotel technology is more gimmicky than valuable – think the robot-staffed hotel that opened recently in Japan – there are valuable technologies you can invest in 2016 to drive your business.

The key is to focus on technology investments that make hotel visits easier and more personal for guests, from providing them with virtual reality previews to simplifying their stays via their
smartphones.

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