Hotel Online Special Report

'Hotel Room of the Future' Combines Traveler Needs With Modern Technology
Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management 
Becomes Test Site of 21st Century Hotel Rooms
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.  These include: 

Alarm clocks that increase the amount of light in a room rather than emitting a tone, which may be too jarring for some guests. 
Rooms that are light, noise and temperature sensitive in order to create a sleep profile tailored to each guest. 
Keyless locks that are controlled by coded information gained through the scan of a guest's finger, palm or retina. 
Windows replaced by guest-selected computer-generated scenes to create a more restful, relaxing in-room environment. 
Room configurations better suited to the traveler profile of the future, particularly in the U.S., where more than half the population is expected to be more than 65 years old by the year 2010. These include: changes in lighting, and greater accessibility of doorknobs vs. handles; and showers vs. bathtubs. 
Choice of soothing white noise at the touch of a button to help guests unwind. 
In-room virtual reality entertainment centers. 
Electronically controlled mattresses to provide guests with the right level of firmness and support. 
In-room exercise amenities using tension lines and doorknobs so that guests can de-stress while they get fit in the privacy of their own room. 
Menus designed by nutritionists to enhance a guest's health and diet. 

 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. 

Rosalie Huerta or Ned Ward, [email protected]
212-754-6500, or fax, 212-754-6711, 
both of 
M. Silver Associates, 
for the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management
Also See: University of Houston Hotel School Wins National Travel Award for the Creation of a First-Ever
Hospitality Industry Diversity Institute / Oct 1998 

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