May 2014  

Hotel of the FUTURE: Rooms

Technology is changing the hotel guest experience. Here are more of 20 ways tomorrow�s hotel will be different from today�s. (Continued)

9. Front Desk-Less - The hotel of the future will be without a front desk. �In the past, there were wood and marble front desks that served as a barrier. It was as if the staff was afraid of the customer,� says Rach. Those days are over. We are no longer a society that takes to lines. We are definitely not a society of patience. Even the airline industry gets that. There are kiosks and smartphones, where we can check in or change our seat.

The hotel industry has to move away from the structure that currently exists and move into an experience structure with service.�

Right now, 14 Aloft properties are equipped with Smart Check-in, giving travelers the ability to bypass the traditional check-in process and head straight to their guest room with an enhanced keycard equipped with radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. An additional 14 will have this capability this year.

11. Easy-to-Access Technology - The movement toward augmented reality� the use of computer imagery overlaid on the field of view to augment the reality that has recently been introduced with Google Glasses�will eventually make its way into guestroom design. This will enable the attendees to access a variety of information about the hotel, the destination and the meeting or event through interactive technology displays.

Andrew MacCachran, American Chemistry Council, says that in-room technology access is a priority. �We are a society with the philosophy, �I know how I want things and I expect them to be that way,�� says MacCachran, who engages in the end-to-end meeting planning for 30 annual off-site conferences and events ranging from 30 to 900 attendees. �We are a generation that expects everything to be customized and efficient with the technology we now have at our disposal. We want multiple outlets that are easily accessible, wireless, iPod docking stations and flat-screen TVs. These things are not negotiable.�

12. Intelligent Furniture - According to �Hotels 2020: Beyond Segmentation,� a study conducted by Fast Future Research and technology company Amadeus, the hotel of the future will feature intelligent furniture with built-in memory that will adapt to changes in body posture. Guests will also have the opportunity to choose the room�s artwork and display their own photos in digital frames. As technology advances, and intelligent wallpapers emerge, guests will be able to configure the room décor on arrival or download their preferred designs beforehand.

13. The Ultimate Blow Dry - Don�t expect a stack of fluffy, white towels to be waiting in the bathroom in the hotel of the future. Head-to-toe body dryers will take their place, say hotel industry insiders. This is great news for the environment, as millions and millions of gallons of water are used every day to wash hotel towels, not to mention the electricity, soap, and labor that also are required.

14. Amenities - Of course there still will be a high-powered hair dryer in the bathroom for styling purposes, and an iron in the closet. But there also will be dermatologist-approved skin-care products, and humidifiers will be waiting in the appropriate rooms. Embedded in bathroom mirrors will be touch-screens and TVs.

Marriott Hotels� 10,000-sq.-ft. Innovation Lab focuses on hotel design concepts for the future.

15. The Virtual Concierge - Once in the room, there should be a message on an iPad, TV or on the touch-sensitive tablet walls that display text and graphics to welcome guests and ask if they want reservations in a restaurant that they may have visited in the past, says Rach. This is the guest�s personal control center, where he or she can order food, get a wake-up all, check on local events and attractions and book spa appointments and golf tee times. Lighting, temperature and music are adjustable from here as well. �The guest will be able to utilize 24-hour concierge-level service at the touch of a button,� enthuses Rach.

16. Smaller Guest Rooms - Guest rooms in the hotel of the future will be smaller than those in the past. �Credenzas have been removed that contained CRT TVs, now that flat screens are the norm,� reports Hanson. �Another factor affecting room size is that Millennials and other travelers are spending less time in their guest rooms. Many prefer to congregate with their computers in public areas.�

17. Interactive TVs - Dan Nadeau, GM, Marriott Marquis, DC, notes that �Interactive TVs are falling into must-have category. They must enable guests to sync up their mobile devices with the TV to actually play their own content on the in-room flat screens. Basically, guests are expecting the tech they have at home, including access to their own content library while on the road.�

Doyle, Andrea, �The Hotel of the Future,� Successful Meetings, February 12, 2014

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