Over the years, hotels have been fairly standard. Travelers check in at reception desks, pick up room keys and transport their luggage to their rooms.
While technology has automated the check-out process and allowed for card keys instead of traditional metal keys, customers are still inconvenienced by long lines at check-in. Fortunately, for frequent travelers, the hotel industry is gradually evolving. Hospitality giants like Aloft and Starwood Hotels and Resorts are searching for ways to provide a more seamless, guest-friendly experience from check-in to check-out.
Here are a few things customers can expect to see in their future travels:
1. Floating Suites
In an effort to offer something new, hotels and resorts across the world are offering guests the opportunity to stay in a suite on the water. These floating suites give guests a 360-degree view of the nature surrounding the suite, with large windows and access to amenities like fishing and tubing.
Currently, floating hotel suites are available in Maldives, Panama, Bora Bora and Dubai, among others. If you'd prefer to be beneath the water, underwater hotels are open for business in Dubai, Zanzibar, Maldives, Sweden and Florida.
An award-winning concept for a future hotel allows guests to stay on catamarans that connect to the dock when not in use, and they can travel around the immediate area.
2. Smartphone Interaction
One of the most popular targets for hotel industry change is the customer smartphone. Chains like Marriott and Virgin Hotels already allow customers to request items to their rooms using their mobile devices.
Late last year, Starwood Hotels and Resorts announced a new keyless entry program, which lets customers check in to the hotel and unlock their rooms using the company's smartphone app. Hilton is also testing its own smartphone-based keyless entry program, with many other brands planning similar features of their own.
Further, mobile app developer Sochule introduced the HelloTel app for hotel goers. Lost stay-over time can now be meaningful, productive or pleasure time as guests using the smartphone app become part of a social niche within the hotel. Users can meet new people, join activities or close business deals with like-minded guests.
3. Robot Butlers
If you request extra towels while staying at an Aloft hotel, you may get a visit from one of the hotel chain's robotic butlers. The company is testing robots for simple tasks like delivering items to rooms, freeing up hotel employees for other duties.
Best of all, guest services that usually take up to 30 minutes can be completed by robotic butlers in only three, since the butler will be dedicated to handling only specific tasks. The robots have been able to smoothly navigate around hotels, including effortlessly using elevators.
4. Smart Room Controls
Hotel chains have realized the benefits of technology in keeping guests' rooms comfortable. Some chains are equipping rooms with tablets that allow guests to set their own preferences. Others are using smart technology like RFID night lights and Nest Thermostats.
In the future, hotels could encourage loyalty program signups by allowing customers to immediately access their room preferences in any room in the hotel's chain by simply opening the app.
5. Guided By iBeacons
Tomorrow's hotel may become an even more personalized experience with data-driven iBeacons helping deliver customized stay experiences.
With ProximiTel's new technology, businesses and hotels can interact with consumers through instant iBeacon-driven chat features and push notifications. Offering weary travelers things like a happy hour special as he or she passes the vicinity of the establishment is bound to become one of tomorrow's newest personalized customer connections.
6. Spa-Like Bathrooms
Hotel properties are increasingly focusing attention on the bathroom, intent on creating a spa-like experience that serves as a selling point to travelers. This includes oversized jetted tubs, waterfall showers and large, fluffy towels.
When building new properties, some hotel chains will expand the bathroom to create a more open feel and include features such as his and her sinks, a separate shower and a bathtub. Unfortunately, as hotel bathrooms increase by as much as 50 percent, rooms will shrink significantly in size.
The hospitality industry is paying close attention to technology. By watching the way customers interact with business apps, hotels across the globe can create a user experience that helps them beat the competition. Innovators in the hospitality space are already realizing that when guests have a pleasant experience while staying at a hotel, they're likely to become loyal customers.