January 16 2014
Posted in: Self service

Hotels… Tablets…. What to Buy them For?

Last night I was revisiting the 10 Hospitality Technology Trends You Need To Know About, a recent white paper sponsored by The Wall Street Journal. I thought it was an enlightening read that made me think about a few things.

While I agree with making technology a focus in hotels, I think there are some reasons to reconsider throwing devices directly into rooms. In the age of 24 karat iPads in hotel rooms, we’re made to believe that guests are so attached to this technology that it behooves hotels to provide them as perks in guest rooms. Not only is this a significant capital investment with far reaching support implications, but also it’s likely that a hotel isn’t going to put that device in a room without installing their own hotel app. Now, you have the added cost of creating and supporting the app for guests.

More importantly, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve read about guests traveling with multiple devices & their own entertainment options, I’d have enough cash for a gold iPad of my own. Why are the guests going to be compelled to use the in-room iPad when we know they are carrying their very own with them? In fact, some guests are so creeped out by everyone else’s germs that they’ve opted to sheath their remotes with the shower caps from the bathroom.

I’m wondering why I haven’t seen in-room devices offered simply as an option? If a guest wants an iPad in their room, have a mount available that allows the addition of an iPad if the guest requests one (monetization opportunity, too). Hotels both limit the potential for damage to devices or for a guest to be exposed to malfunctioning applications (because, it happens). Only 13% of people polled for this SmartBrief said hotels should provide iPads, iPods or desktop computers in-room… the rest of us are bringing our own!

I venture to say that there’s a place for technology upgrades like iPads in hotels, but I don’t believe that place is in each and every guest room. Don’t take my word for it — guests say that they either don’t want or need it. Is it nice? Sure. Is it smart? The verdict is still out on that one.

A recent StayNTouch blog post mentioned that hoteliers make the mistake of believing this technology is a replacement for the human element, and I believe this couldn’t be further from the truth. According to the SmartBrief poll, “Guests prefer to order room service, make a housekeeping request or contact the valet indirectly rather than by phone.” Providing self-service options is a necessity. Guests were also asked in the poll if they would check in using a non-traditional check-in solution (kiosk/tablet), more than 91 percent said they had tried it or planned to try it. From what the polls are saying, the apprehension about service automation and digital check-in is certainly not coming from guests.

What do you think about all of this? Does anything stand out or surprise you about the list of trends as presented by SmartBrief Media Services?

By Rachel Winder, Sales Executive at StayNTouch, Inc.