|HOUSTON, April 27, 1999 -- Virtual reality, biometric identification
systems, white noise -- the world of academia is working hard to analyze
how travel and lifestyle changes will shape the hotels of the next millennium.
Now on the drawing board at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant
Management at the University of Houston are plans for three traveler lifestyle
centers. These composites of what the hotel room of the 21st century may
be like will focus on sleep disorders, stress reduction and new concepts
to make the hotel room of the future more comfortable, safer, more productive
for business travelers, and less stressful for the harried traveler.
According to Dean Alan Stutts, who is responsible for putting much of the theory behind these developments into practice at the campus' on-site hotel, "With continued technological advancements and the increased popularity of frequent-guest programs, hoteliers are now in a position to all but custom-design accommodations for individuals based on the guests age, health requirements, job-related needs, stress-relief preferences, and amenity preferences."
What's in the Near Future
The Conrad Hilton College, already an international leader in travel
and hospitality studies, will be installing the three test rooms within
the year and ask guests to evaluate the innovations. According to
Stutts, there are a variety of products and technologies already in development.
Says Stutts, "By having a full-service hotel on the campus, we can track and evaluate these new concepts, and take advantage of the significant number of leisure guests and business travelers that visit us. Because our guests recognize that we are part of a learning institution, we can point out certain things we would like them to evaluate, and they are usually happy to cooperate."
Something for Everyone
The goal of the hotel room of the future will be to address the needs of all travelers, including business and leisure, and travelers with specific needs such as seniors and those with disabilities.
For example, studies have shown that one of the main causes of stress and restlessness among business travelers is separation from family. As a result, the industry is looking for ways to use technology to put families in verbal and visual contact more easily and at a relatively low cost.
Other advancements will test how sound and light can be adjusted to help each guest reach the maximum level of rest and relaxation.
Adds Stutts, "Although one may prefer a vitamin on their pillow instead of a mint, gym shorts instead of a bath robe, or a shower vs. a bathtub, the overriding objective for the hotel industry and the hotel room of the future, is no different than in the past and present -- to provide guests with a comfortable place to stay and a good night's sleep. We are especially excited to test these ideas, so that we can pass them along to others in the industry, and make the travelers experience more enjoyable."
The Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston is a leading institution for the development of global leaders in hotel management, travel, tourism and the hospitality industry. The College was established in 1969, and is ranked among the world's premier schools for hotel and restaurant management.
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