What’s more exciting for an industry than the latest technology? Improvements designed to make things easier, increase profits or revolutionize business usually come in the form of technological advances.
One of the hotel industry’s biggest expositions of new technology is HITEC or the Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference. We visited the conference for the first time this year and saw some really cool stuff on the trade show floor, here are 6 of our favorites!
1. There’s more than one way to unlock a door.
Knowing your door is securely locked is fundamental to being comfortable in a hotel room.
That’s probably why we saw so many companies specializing in door security and unlocking at HITEC. Everything from smartphone enabled doors, traditional keycards and even biometric scanning options were well represented at this year’s conference.
But besides security, the process of door opening is a big part of a property’s personality. Using a key to open your room at a small scale boutique helps create a much different experience than using your phone to open it at a massive resort.
With that in mind, and being the hotel marketers that we are, one of our favorites in this category was a hospitality equipment company called Hotek who not only provided advanced security solutions for door opening, but made them look really nice as well!
Another major tech trend well represented at HITEC was app development. The popularity of smartphones and familiarity with the concept of apps means more and more guests will be expecting their hotel to have one.
Though major hospitality conglomerates like Starwood and IHG provide apps for their various brands, there is still a huge market for smaller properties looking to get their own.
3. Customization is king.
Giving guests easier access to room customization is making hotel rooms look like something from a science fiction movie. With automatic blind controls from your bedside, temperature adjustments and easy music and entertainment selection, expect the phrase ” smart hotel room” to become a buzzword over the next few years.
One of the more notable companies in this segment we saw was Control 4 whose exhibit floor mock-up room really caught our attention.
4. Not your father’s revenue management software.
There was something for everyone at HITEC, even the often under-appreciated revenue manager! Not every advance in technology is a shiny gizmo or sci-fi gadget. Sometimes it’s improvements to the nuts and bolts of an operation that make the biggest difference.
For revenue managers, new software is taking the guess work out of determining pricing. More focus on analytics and algorithms to find the perfect price at the right time means hoteliers can expect more booked rooms when demand is low and more profit when they are booked solid. We attended a short seminar by a company called Duetto who specializes in this type of thing, be sure to check them out if you’re looking for a new revenue management solution!
5. Proximity Marketing, revolutionary or fleeting?
Signal 360 delivered an interesting tech talk on their specialty, “proximity marketing”. Basically, they provide beacons that enable a hotel’s app to send targeted and ultra-relevant messages to guests based on their location.
Imagine walking over to a hotel bar and automatically being pushed information about their drink specials for that night. Or, as you leave the property you’re given information about local events, places to eat etc. Right now it’s hard to tell if proximity marketing is going to be a passing fad, or something that revolutionizes how hotels communicate with guests, but we hope we get to visit a property that uses it!
Sci-Fi writer Arthur C. Clark once famously proclaimed that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” And that’s pretty much what visiting NEC’s booth was like. In terms of sheer wow-factor, they really stole the show.
One of the first things that caught our attention was a piece of technology (we’re not sure what to call it) that enabled users to interact with projected images on a table as though it were a touch screen (video below).
They also showed off a digital concierge who could recognize you and answer questions. The facial recognition software even went further and could not only recognize VIPs when they entered a hotel lobby but also recognize faces and estimated age and gender.
There are some pretty exciting tech trends going on in the world of hospitality. Leave us a comment with the one you’re most excited about!