At Sleep & Eat 2020, we’ll be looking ahead to consider the hospitality spaces of the future. What will the guestroom of 15 years time look like? How will the industry harness new technologies and concepts to enhance guest experience?
In particular, today’s competitive hospitality market is beginning to require organizations to use advanced technology innovations to ensure guest satisfaction and convenience. In collaboration with hospitality technology specialist, Olaf Slater, from Sabre Hospitality Solutions, we explore five technology trends set to transform the hospitality space of the future.
1. Super High-Bandwidth Wi-Fi
In the months and even years to come, we’re likely to see a global shift towards remote working. As a short term solution, many hotels have begun offering out their rooms as workspaces, at a reduced daily rate. With this in mind, hotels need to reconsider the order of priorities of their guests. Whilst serving as hotel rooms-stroke-offices, high-speed, high-bandwidth Wi-Fi with a stable connection will be not only be essential, but non-negotiable.
Though many hotels with a particular focus on business clientele already offer high-speed WiFi as a standard, hotels of every variety will need to catch up as quickly as possible to provide a similar offering. With remote working likely to become a precedent, the temperamental (and often costly) WiFi many of us have come to associate with a hotel stay will no longer be sufficient.
From a design perspective, hotels will also need to reconsider whether their rooms are sufficiently set up with the required amenities for work, in terms of furniture, space and so forth. Do they offer adequate desk space, storage, sound insulation for peace and quiet? Are they arranged in a fashion conducive to productive work in terms of ‘flow’? Is the background visible on video calls from the desk tidy and professional in appearance? These are all questions that must now come to the fore.
2. Video Conferencing Spaces
Many businesses are beginning to cut down on international travel requirements for their staff. A larger proportion of conferences, meetings and events to which people would once have travelled from all corners of the globe, will now be taking place virtually. As is beginning to happen already, hotels act as centralised hosts for video-linked or live-streamed conferences. They provide neutral, localised spaces to which national attendees can travel, and connect with international colleagues tuning in from their respective local hotels.
Even as official restrictions on travel begin to lift, digital alternatives to such events introduced during this time are likely to remain in place on a long-term or even permanent basis. Though the majority of hotels have conference rooms of some variety, the design and technical facilities of these spaces may need to be thoroughly reconsidered to cater to a now very different set of guest requirements.
3. Contactless, Frictionless Engagement
In the process of a hotel stay, and increasingly even restaurant visits, many guests are beginning to expect human interaction as an option rather than a necessity. To cater to this (and in the coming weeks, to assure guests of their safety), public hospitality spaces will need to harness a variety of technologies that allow them to facilitate exchanges, and track user intent, without the need for human interaction.
Beginning with a push towards contactless payments as a standard, there is likely to be an uptick in the use of interactive digital signage, such as QR codes. When guests interact with the digital signage, usually via an app, data is picked up on the person doing the purchasing and their user intent, and their payment can then be facilitated – all without the need for human-to-human engagement.
Although COVID may fast-track their introduction on a more widespread scale, once installed, these systems are likely to remain in place for the longer-term future. If it is to be so, this may necessitate a permanent change in direction in terms of the way these spaces are designed. Restaurants may no longer require large areas for manned tills and surrounding space for queues. These zones could become much smaller – serving only as fallback options for the few without smartphones, and for the occasions when technology fails.
Hotel lobbies, too, may cease to be centred around the focal point of a grand reception desk, becoming characterised instead by online check in points, similar to those now found in airports. Whatever the rate of uptake, the way hospitality spaces are designed will likely require thorough reconsideration.
4. Technological ‘Home Comforts’
Many hotels are beginning to incorporate what might be called ‘home comfort’ technologies to their standard room offerings. These will often be entertainment technologies, in particular those that allow guests to recreate similar comforts to those they can access at home. Many hotels, for instance, now offer televisions that facilitate logging in to your Netflix account.
If shifts towards flexible, remote working continue, and as guests become increasingly accustomed to round-the-clock access to such ‘technological home comforts’, hotels may need to expand their offering to provide a fresh incentive for guests to choose their rooms over their own bedrooms. For remote working purposes, and beyond. As well as Smart televisions, this could extend to new options for in-room gaming, or Bluetooth speakers to which guests can connect their own devices and access their own playlists.
5. Digital Wave Finding
Some innovative companies in hospitality and other industries are beginning to use ‘beacons’ within their establishments. These are small items of hardware attached to the walls that emit a Bluetooth signal that can be picked up by various devices. If placed all around the space, the ‘beacons’ can sketch out a digital map of the premises. Using Bluetooth, guests are able to connect their devices to the beacons to be shown messaging. For instance, via an app, guests could simply tap the area of the property they would like to find and be instantly shown the route on their device, without having to engage with any members of staff.
Cutting-edge, forward thinking design will be at the forefront of innovation at Sleep & Eat 2020, as we look to the theme of the hospitality spaces of 15 years time and beyond. To stay up to date with all the latest show updates, register your interest in the event.
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