News for the Hospitality Executive
The guestroom experience has changed dramatically over the years. Hotel companies are progressively incorporating modern technology into their rooms to provide guests with comfort and conveniences. Technology has played a dramatic role in improving operations and bringing cost-savings to hotels. As guests increasingly embrace new technology in their lives, its use in hotels is quickly transforming the guest experience.
In 2005 HFTP’s HITEC Advisory Council conceived the idea of GUESTROOM 2010, a hands-on, model hotel room exhibit that would display the latest in guestroom technology. HITEC, one of the oldest hospitality technology conferences in existence, was the venue choice because it is the annual gathering of industry professionals to confer on technological innovations’ impact on the hospitality industry.
In the early years of hospitality technology, much of the emphasis in our industry was on back-of-house systems, like POS and PMS development. Customer satisfaction was left to the hotel staff, offering helpful, attentive service and comfortable, clean rooms. While this is still very important, guests also need to be connected at about the same level they would be if they were in their offices or on their living room sofas. With GUESTROOM 2010, the Advisory Council was able to explore the possibilities in guestroom technology.
Impact on Industry
Soon after the project debut, an interactive exhibit was displayed at the International Hotel/Motel & Restaurant Show® (IH/M&RS), and the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) conference. The massive size and expense of the exhibit made it hard to travel, so HFTP devised a portable presentation. The portable GUESTROOM 2010 has since been featured in conferences throughout North America, Europe and Asia.
The 2008 version of Guestroom 2010 featured many examples of technologies that will have a major impact on the guestroom and hotel in the future. These technologies include Radio Frequency Identification, IPTV, Voice Recognition, three-dimensional television and display, sensory stimulation, convergence, wireless electricity, wireless sound, water therapy and green technologies.
Part of GUESTROOM 2010’s legacy is the unique layout of the room. When GUESTROOM 2010 was first created in 2006, the traditional layout of the room was rebuilt based on research and feedback. For example, frequent travelers expressed interest in rearranging the room so that when hotel staff entered the room they couldn’t see the bed or bathroom from the doorway. They also requested more natural lighting in the bathroom. While the current room has had a slight change in flow from previous versions, it stays true to the original concept — with the bathroom and bed not visible from the entry door. The layout provides a distinct division of space for a living room, bedroom and bathroom, while still providing an open feel to the room. Visitors to the room saw Control4’s state-of-the-art technology that uses the guestroom television, giving guests complete control of all room amenities and hotel services. Suite Systems delivers LEED compliant solutions as well as dramatically cutting installation and on-going maintenance costs.
As personal devices become better able to enhance the guest’s experiences using RFID technology, systems like IBM and Ving Card Elsafe’s Keyless Door Entry allow guests to skip long lines at check-in and head straight to their room, using their cell phone as a key. For many, the guestroom is an office away from the office. Various technologies are emerging to compensate for this necessity in the guestroom, like Uniguest’s Multi-Media Hub Desk™, which features a built-in computer and keyboard. The evo system™, using modular aluminum frame and track systems, makes rooms truly “plug and play,” as well as assisting in protecting against future obsolescence.
Sony’s OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) Digital TV display is only about three millimeters thick and has a light-emitting structure of the panel that eliminates the need for a separate light source, allowing it to be 40 percent more efficient than conventional LCD panels of the same size. In-room entertainment includes the new Wii game system, created for hospitality, without the requirement for game discs. A special version was designed specifically for guestrooms so property managers can control game menu content, erase saved game data and receive updates of popular new games via a network connect. The new Wii fit also provides an in-room gym.
Past Guestroom 2010 committees have not been afraid to stir up a little intentional controversy to generate some conversation in the industry, and this year’s group was no different! Looking around the room you might notice something missing — a traditional telephone. Evaluating the likelihood of technology in the future, the committee felt that traditional telephones would be obsolete and opted to replace the phone with an antique intercom system. As one member of the group said, “The only thing a guest will need to do is to be able to call the front desk.”
As the center of any guestroom, the bed is an important feature. AMMIQUE’s 21st Century Bed Technology is an innovative mattress-less alternative to the normal hotel bed. Designed to support the body in the correct position for sleep, the bed has 20,000 components that move interdependently to contour inch by inch in the natural curves of the moving body. It also factors hygiene, airflow and adaptability into the design. Because the bed lacks a traditional mattress, it lasts many times longer than today’s bed does, and is environmentally friendly because after its useful life it does not fill up our landfills.
Have trouble finding things in the dimly lit closet? Fluxx Lab’s Energy Tax Door has created a solution that lights up the closet and is energy efficient. The light harnesses just enough energy from opening the door to light the closet.
Televisions are a popular guestroom technology, evolving to fit guests’ and the hotel’s needs. Eco-friendly televisions are the new rage, allowing the hotel to save money and the environment while still providing a high-quality viewing experience for the guest. Philips’ Smart Power2 consumes nearly 50 percent less power than normal LCD HDTVs and includes a light sensor that measures room lighting levels and dims the backlights to provide viewing comfort at the lowest power levels tolerable. Since energy savings migrate directly to the bottom line, this television is both green and “profitable.”
This year’s bathroom can help the guest relax after the hotel’s spa has closed for the day. Mixing technology with an organic design, Kohler’s Fountainhead Vibro-Acoustic ™ Bath uses sound waves to provide a relaxing bath for guests. Four vibro-acoustic experiences envelop the bather in a multi-sensory environment that synchronizes music, vibration and light with water. If the guest has no time for a spa bath experience, he/she can enjoy Kohler’s DTV II Shower. This fully integrated shower incorporates a rejuvenating water stream, music from a personal play list, and lights that move and change colors to help guests improve their mood. Guests can chose personalized temperature and water delivery options from up to eight shower components.
Offering the ultimate in technology while still preserving interior design, Séura’s Découverte Lumination Collection™: Veda™ 20" Television Mirror and Lucidity Speakers are seamless additions that easily disappear into the design of the bathroom when not used.
Listening to the television is easy with revolutionary behind-the-wall-mounted speakers. Each transducer energizes up to 200 square feet of panel space and has the capability to transform almost any surface into a loudspeaker.
Another green technology featured this year is Kohler’s Fountainhead™ Comfort Height™ elongated one-piece toilet with Power Lite ® flushing technology. This toilet features dual flush technology and an eco-friendly 0.8-gallon flush option that saves as much as 6,000 gallons of water annually over a traditional 1.6-gallon toilet.
In 2006 when GUESTROOM 2010 was created, the name portrayed the idea that the technologies shown in the room weren’t a distant fantasy, but a concept that could soon be adapted into any guestroom. As 2010 approaches, GUESTROOM 2010 must evolve to reflect changing times. At the end of the 2008 HITEC, HFTP announced a new name for its innovative model hotel room exhibit. GUESTROOM 2010 will now be called G2X (GUESTROOM 20X).
Jules Sieburgh, CHTP, a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and a member of Cayuga Hospitality Advisors, has more than 30 years hospitality industry experience. Currently he is President of the Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) and has been part of their Guestroom 20X project since its inception. He is now a consultant with O’Neal Consultants, specializing in providing a wide range of technology services to clients wanting to improve or initiate technology applications. He is also the Group Leader for Cayuga’s Hospitality Technology Services group.
Cayuga Hospitality Advisors