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Providing High-speed Internet is like providing water and electricity in the classroom.
Lynn D. Smith, Superintendent
Brewton City Schools, AL
I recently was on a business trip for an entire week. My email can pile up into the hundreds on any given day. After spending days offsite, my evenings were planned to catch up on work, so it didn’t pile up upon my return. The internet service in my hotel was so poor, that my inbox stayed in “updating inbox” mode for hours. I had to leave my computer on overnight, so my inbox would refresh from the day before. Not the best way to conduct business while on the road, and no matter how nice my hotel room, the fact I couldn’t get fast and reliable broadband service left me with a poor perception of the hotel brand. We know in business, perception is everything. And this day in age, we all expect to be connected 24/7 – its simply required.
But what’s on the horizon for the hospitality industry goes far beyond Wi-Fi service. Amenities are no longer just a gym, pool or mini-bar in your hotel room. Imagine arriving at a hotel and having the front desk know who you are when you walk in. When you go to your room, it's set up exactly the way you'd like - the temperature is comfortable and there's fresh coffee; when you head down to dinner, the restaurant already knows if you have any allergies. The future of hospitality lies in the guest experience, where personalization will lead to better outcomes for both guests and the hotels. Just like “Smart Homes” hotel guests can enjoy “Smart Rooms” where you can customize your experience. The internet of things (IoT) becomes a priority by translating the Smart Home experience into the hospitality world. An app on your smartphone can help you adjust room lighting, temperature and TV channels. The next iteration will venture into voice activation technology vs. using your phone, as we all know the popularity of devices like Amazon Echo and Apple’s Siri.
Connective technology will soon be an industry standard, guests complete the check-in process before they arrive, unlock the room with a mobile key and even text the staff for requests. Local experience will be a top priority as well – offering guests incentives to local attractions or merely an activity map of recommendations. Our current tech-savvy generation may even influence hotel design as the movement toward shared workspace and hubs are flourishing. Instead of being hauled up in your room, hotels can offer shared spaces to do your work.
The plate is very full for the hospitality industry; in addition to the day-to-day operational components, that include crisis management and cyber security, data and analytics are critical to creating customer profiles that lead to loyalty and retention measures. Tracking guest habits, interests and preferences, as well as reason for travel, booking date, date of last stay and much more help to formulate strategies that generate revenue streams. Gigabit+ internet access provides the capacity to fuel all the above. Having the pipe for both internal operations staff and guest expectations is a 2-pronged approach that requires significant broadband. Being able to allocate bandwidth for both is essential vs. trying not to max capacity and holding back one group or the other.
Hotel Management goes on to list 7 hospitality trends, showcasing how this year may be the year where technology blazes a path for hotels.