Phil Benson considers the hotel technology trends most likely to rule in 2012 – everything from the iPad to EMS.
Hoteliers have to move with the latest technology trends and keeping up to date with new devices on the market to stay competitive in an already fierce market. What the new trends for 2012 are will be important for securing new customers and keeping existing business.
The iPad revolution that the world has witnessed in the last few years could redefine how guests to hotels use technology in the future. The statistics speak for themselves so it is something that all hoteliers should bear in mind. It is the fastest selling consumer electronic device in history and the first video centric guest internet device.
iPad already places massive demands on hotel Wi-Fi systems, consuming far more than Wi-Fi data, so hoteliers have to be aware of this risk as guest complaints about poor download experiences could have a very negative effect on future business. Customers will arrive at the hotel wanting the same experience they enjoy at home or in the workplace, so it should be a key aim for a hotel to be in a position to provide them with the same infrastructure and bandwidth to achieve this.
iPads also open up a whole host of new opportunities for hotels to deploy in guestrooms to handle things like room service ordering, concierge services and in room facilities like lighting, air conditioning or the TV.
The iPad has changed the way many people are using technology and although it will create challenges for hoteliers, it is up to them and the industry to embrace the device to offer guests the same experience they have elsewhere.
Cloud Computing has been a hot topic for some time, but 2012 is predicted to be the year that this technology finally takes off as more Property Management System (PMS) vendors launch their cloud version where hotels can access their major software applications on a web browser. Cloud computing offers hotels with a more cost effective way of arranging technology, without large up front expense and a need for more hardware on the premises.
Energy Management Systems
As electricity costs continue to rise, it is important for hoteliers to start seriously looking at more sophisticated Energy Management Systems (EMS) to replace the traditional magnetic stripe cards in the slot. Hotels that have invested money into sensor based occupancy systems or have door locking systems that are integrated with the Property Management System have seen a dramatic reduction in energy costs. The return on investment on these systems has shown pay back within three years and is a technology that again in 2012 will continue to evolve and improve.
Lighting is another huge contributor to expensive energy bills so the shift towards using LED and Halogen bulbs is set to continue, saving hotels up to 30 per cent on costs.
Hoteliers have to find a fine mix in identifying the areas where money can be saved and providing guests with exactly what they want. This continues to be the challenge for hoteliers in a slowly improving industry.
By Phil Benson