I’ve been traveling for business for some time now…15 years and counting. In that time, there have been lots of trips, lots of time away from home and family and lots of delayed flight and anonimous hotels. You know what? I still enjoy business travel. I love meeting prospects and customers. I love “mixing it up”. I really enjoy experiencing different cities and occasionally, different countries.
There has been a ton of change in business travel brought on by new technologies. Remember the days when while on the road, to get updates or connect with office or prospects, you had to pull over and use a payphone? Mobile phones to the rescue! I cannot remember the last time I actually used a payphone. How about this one…to get email while at the airport, you had to connected your laptop to a payphone via a telephone cord you carried. WiFi changed all of that…and I love WiFi. I used to carry a stash of rental car company city maps in my laptop case as a primary method of navigation from meeting to meeting in whatever city I happen to be in. Then GPS’ revolutionized navigation, quickly to be followed by another revolution…smart phones inclusion of GPS via Google Maps and the like which crushed the market for independent GPS devices. These technologies have been awesome for travelers…speaking for myself, I am far more efficient and the convenience is tremendous.
As I’m looking at that last paragraph, I’m thinking…what’s next? What game-changing cool new technologies are around the corner? What don’t I know about? Its exciting to project. As I was thinking about this, I thought…hold on. There are tons of available technologies today that are not being leveraged by the hotel industry…smart phones to connect to the hotel. Cloud infrastructure making connecting systems much easier. Tablet computing for hotel staff.
What do I, as a traveler want? What could be done TODAY? OK…here is what I want TODAY…
When I get close to a hotel where I have a reservation, I want a hotel app on my phone to buzz and offer me the choice to check-in via my smartphone while approaching the hotel in the cab. I want the app to display my reservation information so I can confirm ahead of time, and perhaps extend my stay. I want to see a picture of my room type…and sure, go ahead and show me a picture of an upgraded room. I had a great day…just might pay for the upgrade. While I’m at it, let me set my wake up call time…and order my coffee for the morning. Oh…and I like down pillows…I want to be able to take care of all of this via the app on my smartphone before even stepping into the hotel. Why can’t I do this today? Sure, I can call the hotel and take care of some of this…however, I want the choice of interacting via my smartphone…and I should be able too. Why do I have to go to the front desk to get my room key? After 3 cities and 4 flights, I want to just go to my room. Maybe I don’t want to find the front desk, stand in line just to get my room key. Why can’t I stop by a key dispenser, scan a QR or bar code sent to me via the hotel app, grab my key and go? This all boils down to choice for the guest. The technology exists today to make all this possible. You’re already beginning to see big companies like Marriott and Starwood offering a bit of this. All this will come to pass for the hotel industry. Its just a matter of time…but I want it TODAY.