Often I run into the comment that the hospitality industry is lacking behind when it comes to technology and most of it’s technology vendors are not known for strong innovation. When airlines started doing revenue and yield management, hotels followed later. In the 90-ties, once retailers had established shopping carts on the web, hotels followed with their version of a shopping cart, the hotel booking engine. Around 2005 or so airlines started with on-line check in… hotels are still struggling to get proper on-line check in in place, mostly because of the room key. While some vendors might not be on the bleeding edge of innovation, others are, and other industries do.
While the next wave of travelers will expect social engagement, social staying and access to the latest technology on their own or borrowed device, most hotels have not embraced much of it. Airlines on the other hand continue to come up with new things, trying to create an edge for the one thing they are not particularly well known for, … you guessed it.. Service! Delta Airlines is now installing a few thousand iPad’s on airports as detailed in a recent post on Apple Insider, in restaurants and other areas of the terminal.
I seem to think here is another and simple opportunity for hotels, with a few iPad’s in the lobby, they might be able to make the lobby experience a little more pleasant. Guests waiting on other guests, can enjoy some browsing on them, while hotels can use that opportunity to inform the guest about hotel services and surrounding events. Adding virtual concierge app to these iPads would allow guests to interact with the hotel, while waiting. The iPad’s could also be used as simple (and MUCH cheaper) kiosks for guest to check in, check out, order a drink, or book their next stay. Quantas Airlines is experimenting to see if the in seat video system can be replaced with an iPad, at boarding every passenger is issued an iPad, during flight it can be used to watch movies from the inflight entertainment system. Hotels could place a iPad in each room to enable all sorts of services, from room service, to the TV remote, or allow the guest to watch a movie from Netflix, streaming to the hotel room TV. Hotels can than do away with the expensive Video Entertaining systems at the same time, and have their guests access the service from the Cloud.
A tablet device, such as the iPad offers many and very affordable services opportunities hotels can use to differentiate especially when the strategy includes seamless connecting to the guests own device(s) as well. While airlines design these technologies to reduce cost of service processes, hotels need to offer them as an alternate opportunity. Tomorrow’s guests want it Today!