In this digital age, few human experiences have resisted the influence of emerging technology. With each passing year, we witness the progressive evolution of capabilities and enhancements that, in many respects, change how we interact with the world. In the hospitality industry, hoteliers know they need to keep a pulse on emerging trends to avoid disappointing guests and falling behind competitors.

Across all aspects of the guest journey, hoteliers are enhancing the modern experience by shifting away from legacy technology and antiquated models to embrace a new, tech-savvy, and guest-centric approach. While some traditional elements of the hotel stay will always remain, industry leaders around the globe are pro-actively reimagining hospitality classics to drive revenue, reduce costs, and enhance service.

A Front-Desk Experience For Every Type of Traveler

Travelers today crave personalization and convenience across every touch-point of their stay. Of course, each traveler is unique, and what represents a positive, personalized experience to one guest, may look entirely different for another guest. With this in mind, it’s never been more imperative for hotels to implement an operational infrastructure that caters to both a high-touch and a low-touch service model, allowing guests to choose their preferred experience model. If a property skews too far into a tech-dominated model, they risk losing out on those guests who crave a more traditional experience. On the other hand, if they resist the implementation of new-age technology that drives convenience, they risk deterring those modern travelers who expect enhanced, seamless convenience.

According to recent surveys, more than 85% of consumers have used a self-service kiosk and, given a choice, consumers are more likely to tap self-service technology versus employee-led options. As such, hoteliers are leveraging the latest advanced platforms which enable them to offer streamlined, mobile check-in/out, as well as self-service kiosks. By providing a self-service option, those guests who value a fast, convenient check-in/out process will have complete autonomy over their experience. On the contrary, those guests who prefer the in-person, high-touch experience will be rewarded with more attentive service at the front desk, without the deterrent of long lines. Further, hotel staff is then able to move around freely, empowered by a mobile, flexible platform, interacting more genuinely with guests, and offering a more responsive experience.

Keyless Entry, Virtual Concierges and Smart Rooms of the Future

Hotel rooms of today — and those which we can expect to see in the future — are far more than just a place to lay one’s head. Modern hotels are tasked with the responsibility of providing all the comforts of a guests’ home, enhanced by luxury and added conveniences. Convenience represents the primary theme, as guests expect an experience uninterrupted by setbacks or pain points. As countless hotels around the globe invest in the creation of native apps for their property, it comes as no surprise that keyless entry is a trend currently sweeping the industry. In the past, guests frequently had their on-property experience interrupted due to misplaced or malfunctioning keys, and the initial wait for key programming at the front desk. Today, this ceases to be a concern, as guests can gain access to their room via their handheld device.

Of course, the evolution of the classic hotel room doesn’t begin and end with keyless entry. Rather, it’s only the beginning. As voice-powered assistants and smart devices become increasingly popular and mainstream, hoteliers are implementing similar devices and capabilities as in-room features or upgrades. Rather than a handful of cable channels, guests can expect complimentary Netflix of Crave TV. Room preferences such as temperature, lighting, and more can be pre-set and adjusted from mobile devices or in-room iPads, and wake-up calls can be set via an in-room Google Mini. Rather than sifting through an over-priced assortment of goods in a mini-bar, guests can even pour themselves a glass of red or white wine, by the glass and on-demand. Many hotels are also investing in AI-powered guest service in the form of mobile virtual concierges and chatbots. As it relates to the smart room and smart hotel of the future, this is only the beginning — but it’s an exciting direction.

Visualizing Amenities for In-Room, On-Demand Beverage Service and More

As we’ve alluded to before, hotel mini-bars (at least as we’ve always known them) seem to be on their way out. While guests still crave the instant gratification which mini-bars, in theory, provide, their antiquated structure is ultimately too problematic and costly to resist evolution. Moving away from that legacy model, hoteliers are seeking out ways to virtualize amenities for an in-room experience that is still convenient and immediate, but is less labor-intensive and provides an enhanced sense of luxury for each guest. This is where in-room, on-demand wine comes in, a sleek new appliance that offers guests the ability to pour a glass of featured red or white wine, whenever they please.

Considering over 60% of hotel executives believe the quality of a guest’s experience will significantly improve through enhanced in-room service and 70% of guests want to use technology to elevate their overall experience, this shift comes as no surprise. Rather than limiting revenue potential and consuming resources with laborious features such as mini-bars and room service, hotels are adopting in-room wine, app-based food delivery, on-property grab-and-go dining, and more. Not only are these modern formats more cost-effective, but they also drive more revenue and cater to a more personalized, modern, and guest-centric experience that leaves a positive impression on guests. For example, Four Seasons developed a ‘fast delivery’ program. Soon the program amounted to about 20% of the brand’s room service business and went beyond the business traveler to cater to all discerning guests. Further, Plum in-room wine boasts capture rates as high as 20%, a far cry from the 1% capture rate of wine offered in traditional mini-bars.

The predominant theme of 2019 and beyond is quite simple: out with the old, in with the new. As the examples above show, technology is a powerful tool in responding to guest needs. As new technologies emerge, hotels of all sizes can’t afford to sit on the sidelines. Those that put guest needs first are in a position to win.

About the Author 

Adam Hoydysh is Vice President of Hotel Sales for Plum. He has more than 20 years of B2B technology and hospitality sales and management experience at F5000 corporations and start-ups. Prior to joining Plum, Adam was Director of Sales for Juniper Networks, driving sales and sales training efforts for Juniper’s advanced technology portfolio of security products. Previous to its acquisition by Juniper Networks for $80 million in 2012, Adam was Director of Sales for Mykonos Software, the leading provider of intrusion deception security for Layer 7. Mykonos was the winner of Wall Street Journal Innovation Award for Information Security. Adam started his career in hospitality at Vail Resorts, the premier mountain resort company and leader in luxury travel.

About Plum 

Plum reimagines every aspect of the wine by the glass experience. The world’s first appliance that can serve a glass of wine just as the winemaker intended, Plum allows hoteliers to satisfy the moments that inspire guests to enjoy a glass of wine in the hotel’s room product. Plum delivers an unforgettable experience – and profits – in extraordinary style, one glass at a time. To learn more visit www.plum.wine.