2020 – What a number. The new millennium is already 20 years old. Can you believe it? For many, this turn of the year was the beginning of something completely new. And yes, indeed, it is the decade of the technical evolution that´s progressing faster and faster.
If we take a closer look at its effects on business travelers, we foresee that much will continue to change in the way we communicate while en route. But how will the hotel experience for business travelers change? Here´s our window into a (possible) future …
Seamless, memorable experiences through beacons and augmented reality
You’ve probably all heard of – or interacted with – location-based services. But have you heard of beacons? Beacons are devices that make location-based services work. A beacon is a small Bluetooth radio transmitter.
For instance, they can make check-in or check-out faster and easier. Once you enter a hotel, you get a notification that you’re checked in, along with your room number and ability to download your electronic key to your phone – no waiting lines.
Imagine you’re a guest that’s just finished working out in the hotel gym. When you leave, up pops an offer on your smart device for a special price on a protein shake at the café.
What do you see, that I don’t see? Augmented Reality (AR)
Though we might all be familiar with augmented reality through games, hotels can use it to create helpful, seamless and memorable experiences. For instance, combining an AR navigation guide with self-check-in, the traveler can follow a set of navigation arrows on their device to get to their room. And if the property has an interesting architecture or history, AR can provide a guided tour and give information about that.
Android room service – the service worker of the future?
Admittedly, this prospect for the future will not inspire everyone: The concierge of the future may not be a human being. A virtual concierge in the form of a chatbot will answer any questions you might have. The extra pillow or the room-in-breakfast you´ve ordered may be delivered by a robot butler. Like an android in a SiFi-movie, those robots will have communicative subroutines that enable them to perfectly mimic human small talk. You think that´s the future? Far off! We’re already seeing robots being tested in today’s hotels.
The future of payment will be cashless. The number of hotels using virtual payment today is already growing. That´s nothing magical. Invisible payment simply means that the card number which is used to pay the hotel is already stored in the traveler´s profile. All technologies that enable seamless and fast payment, including mobile payment for hotel services, will gain importance in the future. We may see that biometrics, such as fingerprints or eye-scans will enable payment in the future.
Smart rooms for your convenience
We´re already starting to see digital room controls. You can use your mobile device or voice control to tailor your hotel room to your own preference.
Entertainment systems can synch the room’s audiovisual with your devices, remembering the connections later. The advent of Qi wireless charging devices will make it feasible for hotels to invest in wireless charging stations throughout the property so you can charge your phone without plugging in.
And how about this for a picture of the future? A morning alarm can be set to play a specific song, turn on the TV to a specific channel, slowly brighten the lights, turn up the air conditioning, open the shades, or even turn on the shower. Sounds light-years away, but it will happen and it isn’t that far away. The future hotel room is a truly connected experience.
What these future trends mean for your hotel program
As your travelers continue to see a rapid acceleration of technology enablement in their personal lives, they’ll expect it from your hotel program. If you can predict and proactively meet those needs, you’ll be ahead. And that will lead to more satisfied and productive travelers. Travelers who will book their hotels through your program and who will actively advocate for it.
It will also lead to a better performing hotel program, across attachment, reporting, duty of care and savings. The changing hotel environment gives you the opportunity to leverage technology for the good of your traveler experience and the good of your program.
What the future of hotels may be beyond 2030
Travels without luggage – 3D printers in a hotel room
Luggage is so yesterday! With the 3D printer installed in the hotel room, the impossible becomes tangible. The machine generates everything you want in real-time: shoes, medicines, computers or portable telephones.
New definition of luxury
Luxury will have new synonyms. Like “Coffee machine”. Imagine a coffee machine that remembers your favorite coffee flavor from your last stay in any property of the hotel chain and that welcomes you with the perfect coffee enjoyment. Maybe it will even deliver the perfect caffeine strength based on your blood pressure. Or “glass privacy walls” as the walls of the bathroom that turn opaque if someone is using it. Those walls may also allow you to decorate the room as you wish by picking a preferred style or picture that´s shown on it – like a sunrise in the mountains or your favorite beach.
Dreams on the touch of a button
Imagine your hotel bed has neurotechnologies integrated. They will allow you to dive into your own dreamland. The hotel bed will no longer be just a place for healthy sleep. No! It will be the ultimate place for virtual reality. Travelers can experience their own dream worlds and, for example, start exciting expeditions or attend interesting courses. Nightmares excluded.
Aromatherapy in a hotel room
No time to go out for running or visit the spa? Aromas from interactive spa walls in your room will reduce stress and create a relaxing (sleep) experience.
A holographic projection allows the traveler to see the sights of a country or city or engaging with their favorite hobby without leaving the hotel room. This way, the traveler can use short breaks to gain personal experience. A brand new definition of bleisure travel, isn’t it?
Just need to be yourself
Your DNA is the ultimate in personal identification and will be used to confirm travel bookings. When you check into your hotel, all that will be needed is a DNA fingerprint to confirm who you are.
New data security
The industry will have to deal with the data- and cyber-security of this new technology. Imagine the huge amounts of data that would need to be stored around the world to enable these services. Those solutions will involve a broader set of actors from all over the world, has greater stakes, sits on different technological foundations, and engages core human values in a novel way.
Back to the roots?
And those who are not in favor of a digital hotel experience? No worries. Every trend has its counter-trend. There are already “tech-free hotels”, that encourage travelers to hand in their mobile phones and notebooks at the check-in and that don´t offer wifi for exactly that reason: The hotel rooms are purely focusing on a relaxing atmosphere and a good sleep. A chambermaid will uncover your bed, put your favorite cookie on your pillow or bring some hot milk with honey before you go to rest. For some properties and their travelers, the future of hotel rooms might be solely focused on sleep and relaxation, rather than technological distractions. How’s that for coming full circle?