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Trends in Hotel Technology - Struck by Lightning
By Terence Ronson
It's impossible to talk about technology, without mentioning the word trends. The two are super glued together, and none more so than when we talk about Smartphones and the current craze revolving around the iPhone5.
But honestly speaking, Hotels are not always so trendy when it comes to tech, often erring on the side of caution. They have painfully realized that trends and associated items come and go, and a current example of that pain is something the whole planet is now experiencing - the Lightning connector which Apple has thrown our way. It has definitely put a spanner in the works...and once again - 5 years on (is that a cycle I wonder), iOS has become a disruptive technology we all have to deal with.
Having said that let's look at two of the key tech trends now affecting us:
With such a great percentage of the population owning some kind of smart device (Phone or Tab) the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) phenomenon is having a tsunami effect in the workplace and Hotel.
Staff want to use and connect their devices to Company systems, and Guests want to use them in the Hotel for all manner of reasons. Both of these bring about a whole host of issues surrounding security, bandwidth, risk and cost.
Firstly, when a staff member brings his or her own device into the workplace - you have to consider the security aspect of this. It's an expensive and desired object - maybe $500 and small enough to be stolen. Whose responsibility is that? Also, when connected to your network or systems, how do you lock down sensitive materials (like we used to do with thumb drives or portable hard disks) and stop them walking off property? Another issue is tracking bandwidth usage when you can't easily monitor what traffic is being down/uploaded.
There is of course an upside to this and that is if the employee has personally expensed the item, then you have saved the $500 cost. Perhaps you have helped the cost burden to the employee by offering some sort of monthly rebate into their salary package, providing they stay with you for a period of time. Whatever the case, it's something that needs to be addressed and offset against the benefits you may be able to realize from their ownership of said unit.
And when we talk about the Guest, there comes a whole new game we have to play - and there are, as of now, no rules - we are making them up as we go along.
Don't for one minute underestimate how in love the Guest is with their device - it's become an extension to their anatomy - and I'm sure you've observed the new way of walking we've adapted to over the last five years as we hold the device in our hand at about a 30 degree angle from our face so we can see it, and it can be seen. Some people are even more in-your-face as they strut their stuff - holding Tabs and Notes up to their ears or in front of their faces to have a phone call or Face Time chat - you can make your own judgment as to how you feel about that.
But seriously, the Guest has yet again become disruptive - and we have to deal with it. This one unlike a few specks of dirt cannot be swept under the rug in the hope it will go away.
I know for example that the organization HTNG (Hotel Technology Next Generation) has set up workgroups to specifically deal with "devices" and how they can be managed on the Network. It's got a few very smart folks scratching their heads as to how to best get around this.
But apart from the fact the Guest wants to control everything about their stay in your Hotel, like access control, lights, air-conditioning/heating, TV, DVD/BluRay, DND/MUR, order room service and other tasks, they also want to stream the content they have brought with them - and that's the BYOC part of this (Bring Your Own Content).
Not quite as complex as the BYOD scenario, BYOC is when the Guest brings their own Movies, TV shows, music or other items that they want to playback on the devices in the room - mostly the TV, which you have so kindly provided.
Traditional methods were to dock the digital device into a standalone player (now defunct thanks to Apple's Lightning connector unless you or your guest has a US$30 adaptor - which will not function on 100% of devices), or to plug it into a Jack Pack or Aux Panel - usually found on the desk which is not always where people want to stream from.
But in the true fashion of trends, we now want to be un-wired and stream wirelessly to whatever is the playback unit of choice - be it speakers or a TV, and so there's the rub. Now you have to have Airplay or similar enabled devices to cope with this, and unless you are going through a refurb cycle (which maybe should coincide with Apple's 5-year cycle), then you are going to have to find a fix, to cope with this other trend.
© Terence Ronson
About Terence Ronson
Terence Ronson began his hospitality career over thirty years ago as a Chef, and has held various management positions with prominent hotels, both in England and Asia. In 2000, Terence started Pertlink, a hospitality IT Consulting firm headquartered in Hong Kong that specializes in helping hotels differentiate themselves through the effective use of technology.
Terence moderates an online discussion group for in-room technology at: www.wiwih.com email@example.com. while at the same time puts out an active Hotel Technology Blog and participates in numerous hospitality related events. Professional affiliations include membership of the Hospitality Financial Technology Professionals (USA), the Hotel Catering Institute Management Association (UK), HTNG - Hotel Technology Next Generation, and is a proud Member of the Institute of Hospitality Consultants.
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