Sustainable & Smart Home Technology
COVID has accelerated technology adoption in many aspects, particularly in the travel and hospitality sectors. Smart amenities and services that were previously considered add-ons to the guest experience will quickly become requirements in the post-pandemic hospitality space.
As we hit off day 3 of our symposium, we were excited to hear insights from our hospitality technologist as they discussed the internet, touchless tech and how virtual concierge will improve guest experience.
Karolina, our COO and Co-founder, spearheaded the discussion with an impressive quote from Hilton CEO who said, “the travel comeback really depends on how quickly contactless tech features roll out.”
What is smart technology and why is it so relevant to the travel comeback?
Today, nobody doubts that technology and travel are the perfect combination. The pair play a crucial role in how we are to advance in this sector. It’s worth noting that the sector is going through a metamorphosis. There are many mitigating factors but the new technological solutions coming about are some of the main factors.
Demetrios Zoppos, Co-founder and Chairman of Klevio, commented that loosely speaking, smart technology is about everyday objects connected to a network which is embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the Internet; also known as the Internet of Things (IoT).
With COVID we have seen some change in behaviour – short term changes that will drive long-term behaviour. An example of this is the home delivery service which has increased significantly this year.
Why is smart tech important here? Because there have been some changes on the hospitality side which has driven a change of behaviour, such as socially distanced access to properties, door spaces and keyless entry etc, for fear of COVID. The switch in behaviour has led people to taste new ways of operating and experimenting with new technology, thus triggering them to be amenable to new ways of interacting in the hospitality setting.
It is vital to streamline operations to improve customer experience, and the pandemic has certainly brought forward the timeline in adoption of technology. What we are seeing now is a rapid move to technology as a way of enabling not only the guest experience, but also the owner’s ability to manage the business and any third-party service/plug-in. It’s an exciting time for those in the industry to plug-in.
Global mobility used to thrive on meet and greet occasions and events; however, with the pandemic in full force, this is now seen as an unsafe practice and has steered the industry to contactless technology.
What kind of technology is available on the market?
Service automation through Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to be a trend that is changing the way guests are served. With the advancements in AI, hotels and other property owners are looking at new ways to interact with guests digitally while freeing up hotel staff to work on other tasks.
Shovan Sengupta, Global Vice President of Hotel segments at Schneider, stated that sensor technology has been around for a couple of years now with a lot of operators moving away from key card technology in the guest rooms. There’s already an element of touchless tech with the occupancy sensors which gives the guests a great feeling without having to touch anything.
So, what are the immediate benefits for property managers and what does it mean for guest experience?
Smart intercom devices and apps that allows you to unlock multiple doors with your mobile phone gives property managers and guests control without worrying about key cards explains, Demetrios. Klevio is all about making physical keys a thing of the past. Keyless access is useful for the hospitality and property industry because it reduces operating cost for businesses by allowing property managers to have access to all doors via a simple phone application.
This also improves guest experience as users can use their own device, saving time and skipping queues. Property managers and hotels can have better security as guests are less likely to misplace their smartphone as opposed to a plastic key card.
The panellists received many wonderful questions and comments
asked from the audience, including from Jessica Gillingham who asked the panellists “what is the biggest challenge to smart tech adoption on a big scale?” The panellists agreed that suppliers need to be savvy and combine a human-centric approach with technology, including touchless & sensor tech and workforce automation to monitor duty of care compliance, and deliver a consistent guest experience.
When asked by Ben Cross from the audience “what one technological feature will most change the corporate housing experience in 2 years?” Steve Davis, CEO of Operto, responded “we hold the greatest invention in our hands, and I don’t think anyone has cracked the usefulness of the mobile phone in its ability to hugely disrupt this market. There’s still a way to go but I believe we have the tools in place and the vision necessary to start that journey.”
The impact in hospitality is the platformification of technology, it’s becoming the norm. There is no denying that the hospitality industry needs to develop digital strategies and find ways to accelerate these innovation initiatives, though we all know it’s easier said than done. The key to success for asset owners is to accelerate the innovation process through moving to smart technology with a secure and feature-rich open platform.
We understand the importance of technology, but can too much tech erode the personal experiences?
“How they handle the relationship with their guest is all in the operator’s hands”, Steve replied. We have a whole generation who’ve grown up with technology and they will form the basis of corporate travel; however, that doesn’t mean to say that the human touch will be completely removed.
There will always be a need for interaction and a level of service that people are accustom to. Though it’s down to the operator to either dial it up or dial it down. Human interaction cannot be replaced with AI; therefore, the industry will need to create this balance.
“Convenience is the single biggest step change in consumer demands” added Demetrios, “technology allows you to dictate how much you want to engage. People don’t want the pain of having to check-in at a front desk anymore, they want the convenience of doing it all on their mobile devices.”
So, what do customers/corporate travellers want from the guest experience
Personalised experience is where technology comes in. Most corporate travellers want to stay in accommodations where they can use an app to check in and check out — and numerous property owners are responding to that desire. It’s fair to say that property owners now offer technology and automation that streamlines the guest experience from start to finish. These new technologies aren’t just appreciated, they are now expected by most business travellers.
How secure is all this technology?
When smart controls are used in combination with access and technology, they complement one another, providing heightened productivity. For example, with a quick tap of a button via an app, you can disarm an alarm, turn on the light, and unlock the door remotely and secure the premises from anywhere in the world.
Smart technology works to make life that much simpler for its users, whilst remaining in control; and this control brings comfort and peace of mind.
To conclude, those that make the right investments and leverage digital technologies to improve and elevate their guest offerings will be in the best position to survive through the pandemic and thrive in its wake.