The transition to a new post-pandemic world has begun. Just as COVID-19 infection rates in many countries drop through increased vaccination availability, the hospitality industry is witnessing a steep rebound in the number of guests traveling and requiring lodging services. In the full-service and luxury hotel sectors, for example, STR data reveals that in countries where infection rates are low and steadily declining, occupancy rates have climbed from an average of about 30% during the pandemic to 70%. However, hotel industry stakeholders recognize that the marketplace has changed. Guests now expect that hotels will offer them safer ways to experience more comfort and convenience. To support this new reality many hoteliers are investing in new generation hotel guest room management control solutions that revolutionize the way guests interact with their hotel surroundings.
Trends that are driving the push towards automated hotel room control
COVID-19 has accelerated the infusion of new technologies and applications that reduce physical touchpoints and limit guest exposure to potential new viruses across hotel operations. At the same time, traditional challenges such as energy costs, cleaning costs, and customer loyalty continue to define the roadmap to hotel profitability. High-tech amenities (such as automated room controls) that were once reserved for select hotels are now viewed as necessities, especially in competitive luxury and full-service hotel categories. Technology investments are focused not only on higher comfort and convenience standards, but also on solutions that allow hotels to better prepare for possible future epidemic or pandemic outbreaks with control solutions that are open and extensible.
The kinds of innovations that guests now expect include the ability to avoid standing in long check-in/out lines. Guests also look to using mobile phones as virtual keys, instead of traditional manual keys or cards. Once inside the room, guests also expect a host of new options including the ability to launch live chats with front desk staff from their smartphones, and the ability to engage in “touchless” operation of in-room entertainment, room service, and comfort control systems (i.e., lighting, temperature, and curtains).
Owner investments look to enhance hotel guest experience while improving operations
From the hotel owner’s perspective, the trend towards accelerated integration of automated room control technology presents three opportunities for new business growth:
- Improved guest well-being and comfort – Guests now have several human-to-room interface options from which to choose to increase their level of comfort. The new room control solutions can be configured to allow guests to download a simple app that allows for personal control via their smartphone, or integrated through the TV and its remote control. Other solutions include flat wall-mounted touch panel interface screens with customized sterile surfaces that make it easy for guests to experience contactless, remote hotel check-in/out, and room service and concierge capabilities.
- Operational and energy efficiency improvement – New room control solutions now allow room conditions to be adjusted automatically, based on pre-set parameters, when rooms are either in “occupied” or “unoccupied” status. Sensors in the door locks and ceilings detect when guests leave the room and settings are quickly recalibrated to turn off unused lights and to adjust temperatures and curtains to save energy. In addition, the housekeeping staff knows when to provide room service with minimal disturbance to any of the guests. Then settings are quickly restored to their previous state when guests return. With a typical room unoccupied for at least 8 hours (on average) over every 24-hour stay, these individual room energy, and cost savings quickly add up when rooms across all floors are factored in. If you’re interested in taking sustainable hotels to the next-level, read more about creating net-zero hotels.
- Faster, more responsive maintenance – Maintenance staff can remotely identify issues before entering a room and quickly address them with minimal disruption. Predictive maintenance, via the use of local sensors and analysis software, provides early warning signs before in-room electrical or mechanical systems break down. This allows maintenance staff to come in during off-hours to perform needed maintenance, thus improving levels of customer satisfaction.
Today’s hotel innovations offer openness, flexibility, and reliability
When exploring the marketplace for guest room management solutions, hotel stakeholders should consider four important solution aspects that will enable cost control while improving guest comfort and well-being:
- Open systems that allow for easy integration of a host of third-party applications (such as property management systems (PMS), automated door locks and window blinds, and smart lighting and ventilation systems).
- Modular systems that can offer the flexibility to expand from a base offer to the full solution with minimum cost, enabling hotel owners to easily evolve to meet changing guest needs.
- Cybersecure systems that are designed with a Secure Development Lifecycle process to minimize the risk of unwanted hacker intrusions.
- Insightful, intuitive dashboards that are customizable for any hotel application and preference. Such dashboards provide easy-to-understand trending and reporting data for engineering departments, housekeeping, and hotel management staff.
Solutions such as Schneider Electric’s recently released EcoStruxure Connected Room Solutions for Hotels easily accommodates these needs for monitoring, supervision, energy management, and guest comfort that define Hotels of the Future.
Preparing to welcome back guests starts now
There is no doubt about the importance of re-establishing peace of mind among business and leisure guests as they ‘return to travel.’ To learn more about strategic hotel solutions that redefine hotel guest loyalty, safety and comfort, visit EcoStruxure for Hotels.