Do you want to upgrade your guestroom amenities, but don’t know where to start? Maybe you’ve heard the buzz about smart gadgets on the news, or perhaps you’ve added some smart devices to your own home. But what tech should you install in your hotel? Guest preferences are shifting toward technology; not only do guests want tech-powered amenities like digital keys and digital hotel guides, but they increasingly expect these things. As a hotelier, you might feel overwhelmed by all the options for smart hotel room gadgets on the market today, and you certainly don’t want to invest in something that will turn out to be a fad or quickly become outdated. On the flip side, the right devices can make your guestrooms more comfortable and make your guest experience smoother. In this article, we’ll highlight 8 smart devices that are worthy investments for your hotel, and they can help you achieve higher ADRs and guest satisfaction scores too.
What is a smart hotel room?
Let’s start with the basics: what is a smart hotel room? Like the newly coined term “smart home,” a smart hotel room features technology that, often, can automate tasks, connect to the internet, and be controlled from a mobile device. These tech-powered devices usually aren’t net new; they usually replace analog versions that perform the same function. For example, a smart thermostat can be controlled remotely (or by voice), and connects to the internet to receive software updates. The smart thermostat’s purpose is to control the climate in the room, just like its analog predecessor, but it achieves the same goal in a more convenient and efficient way.
Smart hotel rooms might seem quite modern and sophisticated. Are smart hotel rooms only relevant for luxury hotels? No, in fact, smart hotel rooms can deliver some compelling benefits for budget and midscale hotels, like lower operational costs and less downtime. While luxury hotels might opt for the top-of-the-line version of a smart device, there’s likely a more affordable version of the same type of device that makes sense for hotels with smaller budgets.
Which smart gadgets can significantly enhance your hotel room experience?
To significantly elevate the smart hotel room experience, consider implementing real-time IoT technology for essential room controls like smart thermostats and voice-activated devices such as Alexa. Enhance guest services through mobile apps, enabling features like voice-controlled room service and personalized entertainment options via smart TVs. Integrating artificial intelligence and automation in hotel operations can optimize functionality, reduce operational costs, and enhance the overall guest experience.
While prioritizing these key elements, it's crucial to balance the integration of less critical gadgets. Standard features like Wi-Fi connectivity are fundamental but may be considered less impactful than core elements. Traditional amenities like TVs, though still relevant, might be of lower priority compared to cutting-edge technologies such as IoT for energy efficiency and cost reduction. Hoteliers should stay abreast of technology trends, such as smart speakers and advancements in IoT, to create a sustainable, energy-efficient, and connected smart hotel environment.
Implementing smart room technology, efficient check-in processes, and personalized services through a mobile app can contribute to operational efficiency. Consider smart speaker systems like Alexa for voice-activated controls, enhancing the room's functionality. Marriott and Hilton, as industry leaders, showcase successful implementations of smart hotel technology, emphasizing the importance of staying ahead in the rapidly evolving hospitality landscape.
The integration of IoT technology for room controls, including smart thermostats regulating room temperature and energy consumption, aligns with sustainability goals. Smart hotel technology, driven by IoT advancements, not only caters to guest preferences but also aids in managing occupancy effectively. Hotel owners and management can utilize a comprehensive management system for real-time monitoring, contributing to operational efficiency and reduced costs.
A holistic approach to smart hotel technology, encompassing elements like IoT, artificial intelligence, and personalized services, can create a seamless and elevated guest experience while optimizing operational efficiency in the hospitality industry.
Which smart devices will move the needle at your hotel? Where can you unlock the most potential uplift for your guest review scores, cost savings, and ADR? Using the smart home as inspiration, let’s take a look at eight devices that you should consider implementing at your hotel.
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Skyrocketing in popularity during the pandemic, air purifiers provide peace of mind for guests who have allergies, health concerns, or sensitivity to smoke, pollutants, or anything else that could be in the air. Smart air purifiers can be controlled remotely, like from a smartphone app, and they can share analytics with you to show how much they’re being used, helping you better understand costs and guest behavior. Even if it’s not feasible to add air purifiers to all of your guest rooms, you can consider creating a health-focused room type that has one. Some leading brands include Dyson (ideal for luxury properties) and Pure Room (designed for hotels).
The television is an essential guestroom amenity, but today’s guests aren't satisfied with just a few local and cable channels. To receive 5-star reviews (and higher ADRs, as a result), you’ll want to replace your old-school TVs with modern smart TVs that allow guests to stream their favorite shows and beam content from their mobile devices onto the screen. Some vendors provide hospitality-specific TV products, like Hoteza and INTELITY, while some hotels prefer to install out-of-the-box devices from leading brands like Samsung and LG.
Guest room tablets
It’s time to replace your in-room binders of hotel information, local recommendations, and room service menus. Guest room tablets are the perfect alternative: they house all information you’d normally put in a binder, with added functionality like the ability for guests to seamlessly communicate with the front desk, request late checkouts or extra housekeeping, order room service, and even control other in-room tech. Vendors like SuitePad, Betterspace, and Crave provide purpose-built tablets for the hotel industry.
“Hey Google, turn on the lights” can be a phrase your guests say when they walk into one of your rooms with their hands full after a long day. Travelers are using voice-enabled technology all the time, from asking Siri to set a reminder to telling Alexa to turn the volume down. Some hotel brands, like Marriott and St. Regis, have added Amazon Echos to a handful of properties around the world using Amazon’s “Alexa for Hospitality” technology. This feature allows guests to request things like extra towels or ask about the opening hours of your gym, and the answer is provided immediately (or the request gets routed to the front desk).
One of the pillars of a smart home is a smart thermostat, and there are plenty of reasons for hotels to adopt smart thermostats too. For one, they’re easy to use, so your guests won’t have to call the front desk for help figuring out how to adjust the temperature. In addition, smart thermostats are energy efficient; you can set them to automatically turn off when the guestroom is vacant between reservations, and you can see all usage data in a central dashboard to help you better understand (and eventually decrease) utility costs. Some hotels opt for consumer brands like Google’s Nest thermostat, while other hotels go for more comprehensive energy management systems from vendors like Betterspace or Verdant.
You can upgrade what’s normally a forgotten piece of guestroom real estate with a smart mirror that’s packed with features. Smart mirrors can work well in bathrooms or on an empty wall, and guests can engage with content like the weather, the news, TV shows, or even workout videos on a screen embedded in the mirror. Some smart mirrors, like the Samsung devices from hotel industry vendor Mirrorvue, offer more generic TV functionality, while others, like Lululemon Studio or Tonal offer a library of fitness content.
Turn something as boring as flipping on the lights into an enjoyable experience for your guests. Smart lighting, which can be installed in guestrooms and public spaces, can reduce energy costs and increase guest satisfaction. Smart light fixtures are connected to the internet so you can remotely turn them on or off, and you can set schedules so the lights are only on at certain times of day or when people are in the space. Within a guestroom, guests can control the smart lights from the in-room tablet or from a mobile app (like the lights at tech-savvy CitizenM hotels).
One aspect of the stay experience that’s ripe for a tech-powered upgrade is the guestroom door lock. Many guests prefer to use their smartphone to unlock the door instead of a traditional plastic keycard. Not only is a mobile key less likely to get lost (and will never get demagnetized), mobile keys make the check-in process faster and reduce the cost incurred by constant replacing of key cards. It’s also possible to find beautiful smart locks that match the look and feel of your hotel interiors. Some of the top smart lock and digital key vendors for hotels include Goki, OpenKey, and ASSA ABLOY.