Today, in this highly competitive business environment, survival is the key strategy. If the business survives the economic melt down, the labour shortage or the upcoming competition then the business has succeeded. In the trendy and fashionable hospitality industry, the survival mantra has another angle. Here the survival will depend upon the quality of product and services. The making of hotel as a product is therefore the key survival factor.
High-end hotels keep themselves well equipped with technology. It is interesting to see that the race between imagination and technology is being held on a track that seems to have no finish line. Technology delivers something new but imagination by then has taken the next leap leaving technology behind. Technology thus becomes obsolete by the seconds leaving one wondering if there is any relevance to future.
International hotel chains spend millions of dollars and hours of painstaking work to research on how different new products can make a guest experience better. A very important tool in the hotel survival strategy is the principle of product differentiation. How your hotel can be different from the competition to give a better and higher degree of satisfaction to the guests, at a cost lower than that of the competition. Then only the survival is ensured.
The decision on what technology should be implemented is influenced by the location and type of the hotel. Is it an airport hotel or a city centre hotel, a beach resort or a convention hotel, the guests at each of these hotels will have different sets of needs and wants. The task of technology will be to fulfil and satisfy these demands. Technology should therefore add vale to the overall product, its character and personality. Hotels not keeping pace with this changing scenario will eventually loose the customer base.
Most city hotels today are well equipped with latest, state of the art technological features. For example, hotels have now started the use of biometric technology. This technology uses the voice, fingerprint and eye retina scan for personal identification of the guests. In these hotels, the guest will not need a room key, as a simple glare at the door sensor will be enough to recognise him and open the door. Similarly, no need to remember the combination to the safe kept in the room. A touch of the thumb on the sensor opens it. This is amazing for its ease of use and experience enhancement.
The world of television has advanced by leaps and bounds in the recent years. We saw the latest high definition technology with much improved picture quality. However, hold your breath, that has now already become old. Hotels are now planning to go for the very latest, the three dimensional technology. The room would definitely feel small for watching a ball game on a 3D TV, as it is popularly known. In the field of hotel TV, various other options either available or under testing. There is TV projection system from a hidden projector mounted on the ceiling that projects TV programme on the wall. All the guest does is to select the programme by a remote control. Another innovation that will soon hit the market will turn the room window glazing into a TV screen. Interesting technologies.
Technology has already gifted hotels with flat screen TV cum looking mirror. It comes in various sizes. For rooms as well as for the bathrooms. Some chain hotels have already upgraded their specifications enabling the hotels to use this equipment.
Frequent visitors to hotels are used to touch screen telephones, compressor free mini bars, electronic do not disturb sign or clean my room sign. All these are about to see the bin with the introduction of Control 4 system. Can you imagine walking to the door of your room and the system knows that you are on the way? Prepares for your arrival, Starts the TV with a welcome message, sets your preferred room settings like temperature, turns on the lights and awaits you presence at the door. Control 4 also manages the do not disturb, clean my room and wake call system. Your invisible valet.
High-speed wireless internet connection in the rooms is an accepted feature in all good hotels. What some hotels are doing is to have the entire hotel wireless enabled. The guest can sit any where in the hotel and use his laptop. Not only this, the guest can also give print command for colour printing at a central printer in the business centre. He can collect the prints or have them sent to his room.
Another feature in guest rooms today is the presence of an electric massage chair. If you are time strapped to visit the spa, you can quickly relax your muscles in the room it self.
The jet set traveller has no time. He travels with his virtual office in his laptop and his entertainment in his iPod or MP3. Hotels recognised this as an opportunity to act and are now providing a set of cables, which can connect the laptop to the TV and the iPod or MP3 to the music system. In some hotels, there is even a cable to connect the digital camera to the TV.
Bathrooms in hotels are also full of latest technology. A TV at the foot of the bath, frost free mirror, Jacuzzi with temperature control, rain shower, aqua massage and the works.
There is no end to innovation and no end to the ever increasing demands of the guests. With technology by your side, the battle to address needs and wants will only have financial limitation. How much and what should be implemented.
This is just a glimpse of various shades of technology in use or in the pipeline for hotels across the globe.
The quality of experience for a guest in these hi-tech hotels will depend on the right use of technology. Technology suited for the location, a hi-tech beach resort for example may not find favour with the guests. They visit the resort to relax, spend quality time in leisure activity and not in exploring gadgetry. The art is to recognise technology as a tool, to anticipate the needs of tomorrow and provide them today, leaving one to wonder what happens the day after!
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Ram Gupta is a professional hospitality consultant with over four decades of experience in Asia, Far East, Middle East and Europe. He has been associated with over two dozen hotel projects. His web site can be viewed at http://www.bcgglobal.com and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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