How mobile technology is impacting hotel infrastructure and design

Working to hit a moving target is a task hoteliers know all too well.  NYCEach day, room rates fluctuate, guests come and go, and, at the worst possible time, unexpected surprises seem to materialize out of thin air – it’s just the nature of the beast within the hotel business.  While operators will always have enough day-to-day responsibilities to stay busy, it’s important that they also keep an eye on the trends that are shaping the hotel industry as a whole.  It’s these developments that will eventually affect the high-level relationships between hotels and guests.  And operators don’t have to look any further than mobile technology to see advancements that are permanently redefining their industry.

Mobile technology has already changed how we live, work and play.  Its importance, as well as consumer dependence, is growing by the day, so hoteliers must decide how they will support and incorporate mobile technology into their operations to ensure their guests remain happy and loyal.  Mobile technology is a very broad topic, so for discussion purposes, let’s examine just a few ways it is impacting hotels and some of the decisions operators may need to make in the near future.

When guests arrive on-property, it’s likely they are carrying multiple mobile devices, like a cell phone, tablet and/or laptop, so operators must have the ability to support these devices with two essential utilities – Wi-Fi and electricity.

Wi-Fi is always a hot topic of conversation in the hotel industry:  Should it be offered free or at a cost?  What level of security is appropriate?  How strong is the signal?  The answers to these questions are just as important to guests as they are to operators.  Free Wi-Fi can be the determining factor for a guest deciding between two hotels during the booking process.  Additionally, a spotty Wi-Fi signal can be what drives a guest to book with a competitor during their next visit.  With its importance to the on-property experience, operators must determine what level of investment they are willing to make to ensure their hotel’s Wi-Fi infrastructure delivers exactly what their guests require.

The way electricity is delivered to guests in hotel rooms has evolved from a purely technical issue into a challenge for interior designers.  For example, many people begin and end their day on their mobile device while still in the bed.  So should hoteliers look to change the placement of electrical outlets in guest rooms to replicate this at-home convenience?  Additionally, should more power outlets be included in common areas, like the lobby, to account for the growing number of mobile devices per guest?  Will making these large-scale changes make an impact great enough to justify their renovation costs?  Some of these questions may sound trivial, but the fact is that guest preferences are changing.  Eventually, hotel operators will need to make decisions on the issues noted above, or others very similar, and trust that their investment will pay off with greater reservations, revenue and guest loyalty.

Without diving into the deep waters of hotel-specific mobile apps for check-in, payment and in-room services, it’s clear that hoteliers have lots to think about with simply providing their guests with the essentials needed to support their mobile devices.  Some of these decisions may be daunting, but these are the challenges operators must take on if they wish to remain competitive and achieve success over the long-term.

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