Hotel Online  Special Report

-

Defining the Hi-Tech Hotel; 
Anticipating the Tech Needs of Your Guests
and Providing It Ahead of Being Asked

by Terence Ronson, HOTEL Asia Pacific, February 2005

Hoteliers need to be Boy Scouts {or Girl Guides}…

For me, the sun can’t rise soon enough on the day that dawns the new era when the Boy Scout Motto "Be Prepared" is unanimously accepted as the mantra for the contemporary Hotelier. This being crucial as they mold their attitude towards the ever demanding, and evolving technological needs of the guest.

Because of the cookie cutter approach some operators take in the hope of creating a so-called hi-tech hotel, there is an unrelenting need [for me] to correct their misconception and elucidate the real facts. The reality is - there is no hard and fast rule – it’s far too subjective, and what works for one – will, with all probability, not work for another. I’ve seen this [flattering] mimicry all too often – and whilst it may superficially look and sound good, it will undoubtedly lead to failure through a complete misinterpretation of the real needs.

The age old phrase ‘that beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ can equally be applied to what is perceived as hi-tech. For example, a luddite may describe having more than a color TV in their room - a complete overkill; while on the other hand, an iPOD touting road-warrior [you do know what an iPOD is – don’t you?] might very well feel @ home with all these gadgets and gizmos.

One’s personal belief could be that by placing high-def TV’s, Dolby 5.1 surround sound stereo systems with zillions of channels of hot and cold HD [High Definition] video-on-demand infotainment, suitably qualifies your establishment as having hi-tech accommodations. Another school of thought could see you believing that all you need is ubiquitous wired and wireless broadband so as to give your particular hostelry that hi-tech feel. Some operators postulate that their front-line workers need to sport PDA’s which facilitate them to immediately identify, and have instant access to, guest preferences, while delivering that extra special level of personal service, which they imagine can only be served up by real people.

Actually – I get peeved when people use the phrase hi-tech when they want to design or position their hotel. Being really objective – if you don’t give your property this so-labeled look and feel, then by default, you become low-tech, and I wonder how many of you really want to be portrayed in that manner - in 2005, and beyond. It likewise frustrates the hec out of me when I encounter those who say we should flood the guestroom with tech stuff, and by the same token I get equally exasperated with individuals who say we should slow things down when it comes to tech deployment, because it will just get outdated. You folks, I’m sad to say, have lost the plot.

Love ‘em as we do, Owners need to get away from their fixation of crystal chandeliers, black marble, silk rugs, umpteen floor atriums, designer paintings, aquariums and golden ornaments being the fragrant cheeseboard that gets the MICE through the doors. Yes, it may do the first time, but bring ‘em back time after time – those LCBTs [Laptop carrying business travelers], I’m not so sure this is the right type of bait for your mousetrap.

Remember that we – the descendants of apes and the people who temporarily inhabit this magnificent blue planet, are the ones [religious beliefs aside] who make all this happen. We are passengers on an evolutionary train ride moving along the time tracks with greater inertia than our forefathers could ever have imagined, and one thing’s for sure, we ain’t gonna slow down for anyone.

As consultants to the industry, we painstakingly examine this timeline, firstly capturing a snapshot that marks where we are at this precise moment, and then using our own type of time machine predict where we might be when a new hotel opens at some future point in time. We need to comprehend how people adopt and adapt to these new technologies - before deploying them in a hotel. Paramount to this process is the need to place ourselves in the designer trainers of kids, the quirky moods of adolescents, the fastidious minds of adults, and the often incomprehensible thought patterns of seniors. The importance of this process should not be underestimated especially when it comes to designing how a hotel should provision technology for a specific guest demographic. And oh yes, one must not forget the secret ingredient - a deep understanding of the operation, and how the two sides need to painlessly interact with each other.

I just wonder how many of you, for example, would have accurately predicted two years ago that millions of people would be clutching with white knuckles Apple’s phenomenally successful iPOD, and that many of those [potentially high yield] guests could be billeted in your hotel, wanting to play back their MP3s via the sound system of the TV you so kindly placed in the guestroom. Did you also correctly predict from your crystal ball gazing that people who carry digital cameras (video and still) would want to view their snaps on your plasma or LCD TV. In anticipating this, have you made sockets and connector cables available so that they can easily access these devices and at the same time, have an adequate amount of power sockets for the plethora of power adaptors they now carry in their RFID tagged luggage.

And, as we move forwards [maybe I should say sprint], are you geared up for the next GEN of travelers, those that for example will transport Apple’s even newer and revolutionary ‘Mac Mini’ (go look it up), and the rapidly emerging Wi-Fi phone pre-loaded with SKYPE, already being heavily promoted by some US carriers that is without doubt being heavily discussed around the water coolers of tech companies in the various silicon Valleys and multi-media super corridors.

Anticipating the needs of your guests and providing it ahead of being asked, is the art of hotel keeping – just like being a Boy Scout. If you need to be asked – then quite frankly you have not done your job [The Donald (Trump that is) would most likely fire you…], or you are trying to position yourself as something you are not, and therefore, don’t live up to the expectations of your guests. Giving that little bit extra, helps exceed expectations, and lets you justifiably earn that strongly agree ü on the guest questionnaire you so eagerly look forward to receiving and espousing about at your daily Morning Prayers.

Let’s be honest with ourselves - placing three or more remote controls for the in-room infotainment system either on the desk, or by the bed, is really stupid. A massively complex bedside panel that closely resembles the instrumentation of a nuclear power station is not only a waste of money – it is far too complex for someone who is just looking for a master switch to shut off that annoying [forgotten] bathroom light, or maybe some sort of night light under the nightstand or bed. Having power sockets that one has to crawl around the dusty skirting board and behind drapes so as to just be able to plug in the kettle is nothing short of a joke. Omitting a decent network cable in a room when you provide broadband is not only doing a disservice to your road warriors, it is an injustice to the service you once so proudly [and expensively] installed.

Deploying an enormously expensive phone system into your hotel with charges so prohibitive that a guest feels they need to pay a levy just for the privilege of lifting the handset, swiftly morphs it into a dust collector. This all too common phenomenon (I call it hotelier greed) will see the device being used for nothing more than placing wake-up calls, asking the Bell Boy to collect luggage, requesting Housekeeping to bring more towels, or for Room Service to promptly deliver Soup and a Club Sandwich. Is that what you call a RoI?

There is no Cordon Bleu recipe that you can follow which tells you just how much tech you need to put into your hotel in order to make it work. Likewise there is no need to arm all your staff with a Swiss-army knife so they are prepared to tackle anything.

What you need is the mindset, the understanding and the ……

© terence@pertlink.net February 2005



First appeared in HOTEL Asia Pacific
© Copyright HOTEL Asia Pacific.

.

Contact:

--
Subscription Information
--
Hotel Asia Pacific
Steve Shellum
158 Wong Uk Tsuen
Yuen Long
New Territories
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2882-7352
Fax: +852 2882-2461
http://www.hotelasiapacific.com
steve@hotelasiapacific.com

 
Also See Panel of Hotel Industry Leaders in Asia Pacific Discuss How 2005 is Shaping Up / HOTEL Asia Pacific / January 2005
Celebrate the Life and Career of Reggie Shiu; The Things in Life that Were Most Important to Reggie / January 2005
Patrick Imbardelli, InterContinental Hotel Group’s Managing Director for Asia Pacific, is ‘Divorcing’ Owners Who Don’t Fit In with the Group’s Values / Steve Shellum HOTEL Asia Pacific / November 2003
Asia Rising RevPAR for Asia Pacific As a Whole During the First Half of this Year Soared 41% Compared to the Same Period Last Year / HOTEL Asia Pacific / November 2004
The One&Only Sol Kerzner / HOTEL Asia Pacific / October 2004
Hotel Technology Butlers Can Be a Major Asset - Or a Huge Liability/ HOTEL Asia Pacific / September 2004
A Happy Union? Raffles International’s Recent Labour Troubles in Cambodia Raise Interesting Issues / HOTEL Asia Pacific / August 2004
Jerk Alert: Gung-ho Sales People Trying to Sell their Gadgets or Services to a Hotel / HOTEL Asia Pacific / July 2004
Le Meridien's First Art+Tech Property in Asia Aims to Raise the Benchmark; Typical Reception Desk has Been Banished / HOTEL Asia Pacific / July 2004
Le Meridien Revs Up the Momentum; Obtains New Long-term Partnerships with Several High-profile/ HOTEL Asia Pacific Asia Pacific Hotel Owners as Recapitalisation Strategy Continues / June 2004
Chef In a Suit; Christian Abell explains why he hung up his chef's whites and put on a suit and tie to take over as F&B director at the JW Marriott Hong Kong / HOTEL Asia Pacific / February 2004
Asia Pacific Hotel Leaders Michael Issenberg, Miguel Ko, Patrick Imbardelli and Koos Klein Look at What Lies Ahead; The Greatest Challenge is Uncertainty / HOTEL Asia Pacific / January 2004
Senior Hotel Executives Are Scratching Their Heads Over an Annual Dilemma: What, if Any, Adjustments Should They Make to Next Year’s Payroll? / HOTEL Asia Pacific / December 2003
Why Indian Hotelier Jagsish Rai Sood Chose to Partner with Shangri-La to Operate His Latest Property in New Delhi / HOTEL Asia Pacific / December 2003
The World's Biggest Hotel Chains Planning Major Expansion in Asia; China Hotel Industry is the Certain Winner / HOTEL Asia Pacific / December 2003
K.P. Ho, Chairman of Asian-based Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts, Discusses the Strategy Behind the Award Winning Brand; Building Banyan as Told to HOTEL Asia Pacific / November 2003
Patrick Imbardelli, InterContinental Hotel Group’s Managing Director for Asia Pacific, is ‘Divorcing’ Owners Who Don’t Fit In with the Group’s Values / Steve Shellum HOTEL Asia Pacific / November 2003
HOFEX Organisers Faced a Tough Choice When SARS Devastated Their Plans; Rescheduled Event Poised to Bounce Back in Hong Kong / November 2003
Terrorism: Who’s Liable? The Legal Status of Hotel Owners and Management Companies / Andrew MacGeogh, HOTEL Asia Pacific / October 2003
The Inside Story on How InterContinental Hong Kong Managing Director Jennifer Fox Teamed Up with Michelin Chef Alain Ducasse to Create a/ HOTEL Asia Pacific New Benchmark for Hotel Restaurants in Asia / Steve Shellum, HOTEL Asia Pacific / October 2003
Preview of the Wonderful and Wacky World of the W Seoul; Aiming to Break the Mould of Asia's Traditional Hotels / Steve Shellum, HOTEL Asia Pacific / October 2003
Chiller Replacement Project; How The Grand Hyatt Singapore Applied a Holistic Commercial View / HOTEL Asia Pacific / October 2003
Assessing Hotel Security; HOTEL Asia Pacific Magazine / Pertlink Re-Issue Hotel Security Checklist / August 2003
Pressure Cooking: Florian Trento, Executive Chef at the Peninsula Hong Kong, Explains How He and His Team Coped During the Bleakest Days of the SARs Crisis / HOTEL Asia Pacific / June 2003
Crisis Management: Could You Cope if the Unthinkable Happened / HOTEL Asia Pacific / June 2003
Back to Normal After SARS? Let’s Hope Not.../ HOTEL Asia Pacific / June 2003
Fighting Spirits! Rank-and-file Staff at Bali InterContinental Resort Talk About Their Hopes, Fears, Dreams / HOTEL Asia Pacific / April 2003
On the Chopping Block; Are You Prepared If You Get Your Marching Orders?/ HOTEL Asia Pacific / April 2003
Trevor Bilney, Executive Chef at the Bali InterContinental Resort, Fights Hard Since Last October 12; Keeps Morale Up  and Costs Down / HOTEL Asia Pacific / March 2003
Hotels Stepping Up Security; Learning to Live with the Threat of Terrorism as Part of Conducting Everyday Business / HOTEL Asia Pacific Survey / March 2003
50% of Hoteliers Have Not Increased Investment in Security – More than a Year After the September 11 Attacks / HOTEL Asia Pacific Survey / December 2002
Security: Something No Hotel Can Ignore / Geoff Griswold / Summer 2002
Biometrics Lend a Hand to Hotel Security / Feb 2002
Hotels Near Airports Provide Better Safety and Security Features According to The Center for Hospitality Research - Cornell Hotel School / Dec 2002


To search Hotel Online data base of News and Trends Go to Hotel.Online Search

Home | Welcome! | Hospitality News | Classifieds | Catalogs & Pricing | Viewpoint Forum | Ideas/Trends
Please contact Hotel.Online with your comments and suggestions.