How the adoption of smart technology is shaping the hospitality industry
By Dan Carr – Regional Vice President, Comcast Business, Beltway Region
Sep 27, 2022 Baltimore Business Journal
Smart technology is everywhere today — whether inside the home with smart doorbells, lightbulbs, speakers and refrigerators, or controlling water, power, waste systems, traffic lights and video surveillance systems in your local community.
With its growing popularity, it’s no surprise the hospitality industry is increasingly adopting smart technologies as well. Across the region, hotels are tapping into the power of smart technologies and discovering the benefits of doing so.
To succeed with smart technologies, hotels need high-speed internet and security to keep up with the industry’s mostly digital-based operations and to protect them and their guests against threats like malware, phishing attacks and ransomware.
Technology to power the hotel experience of the future
A solid technology infrastructure and strong network are critical to supporting features and functions that enable a better experience throughout a guest’s hotel stay — from the moment guests book their trip to check out.
According to a recent Deloitte survey, there has been a shift in favor of direct bookings with more than half of travelers booking their stays directly via a brand website or loyalty app rather than through online travel agencies. Beyond the added ease for guests, digital reservation processes give hotels the opportunity to check guest preferences such as room location, type of bed and other special requests. It also offers the ability to increase guest personalization for future visits.
Once checked in, guests may be able to use the hotel app as a room key or to request baggage delivery. Upon entering their room, the temperature may even be adjusted to a pre-set comfortable level. Additional features like lighting, drapery and entertainment controls within the room may also be controlled from one single device, whether a phone, in-room tablet, or bedside control panel. Most importantly, the in-room Wi-Fi must be fast and reliable, allowing guests to stream videos in their downtime and stay connected during business trips.
When guests leave their room to explore the hotel’s amenities, digital signage may keep them informed on public area hours, restaurant locations, menus, or even personalized messaging for special events. Interactive kiosks may also be available to help answer guest questions on local attractions, hotel amenities, shuttles, and more. No matter where guests are, dependable Wi-Fi goes with them.
And when it’s time to check-out, hotels may offer a fully automated process found on the hotel app, website or in-room tablet. They may also arrange for transportation, schedule baggage pickup, review and settle payments, and receive payment confirmation with just a click of a button.
All of these advancements are only made possible when supported by a strong, reliable network that can connect the front- and back-of-house, enable real-time data management and handle bandwidth required for high-volume operations.
Technology to enhance hotel management and the future of hospitality Just as important as implementing technology to support the guest experience, hotels must also leverage technology to support their operational needs. A property management system (PMS), for instance, tracks room inventory, reservations, housekeeping schedules and room assignments. PMS functionality can be extended by integrating with other tools that add new capabilities, such as the hotel building management system (BMS) or customer relationship management (CRM) system. By integrating these systems, managers can more effectively schedule maintenance, minimize guest disruptions, facilitate bookings and use data to personalize future visits. PMSs can also integrate with point-of-sale systems, certain payment providers and accounting systems to easily monitor hotel financial data without leaving the PMS interface. It also allows hotels to collect and track guest data to ensure the preferences of repeat guests are met.
To take full advantage of smart capabilities and hotel integrations, robust infrastructure within and beyond the hotel walls is needed. It starts with dependable, scalable wide-area connectivity. Many hotels find that software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) services are the best option. For instance, with Comcast Business SD-WAN, hotels can choose the services that best suit the requirements of each application because network control functions are abstracted from the underlying network.
Configuring backup links for each connection based on which modes of connectivity are required is easier with SD-WAN, whether dedicated Ethernet, broadband or even cellular services. Network security such as built-in firewalls or services that detect, block, and mitigate cyberattacks are often included with the SD-WAN appliance for hotel sites. These are important features, especially for hotels that don’t have IT personnel at each location.
Success with smart technologies requires hotels to have a flexible and secure IT infrastructure in place. Whether that’s via Wi-Fi in guest rooms and common areas or robust networks for back-office systems, with the appropriate tools, hotels can integrate smart technologies and contribute to success for the entire hospitality industry.
This article originally appeared in the Baltimore Business Journal