The ever-changing guestroom is the result of the dynamic guest. While the demand to stay connected continues to grow, appliances within the guest’s allocated space are adapting to immediate needs. The convenient appliance will ultimately reign in a world where on-demand services dominate markets.
“Hotels, like it or not, are going to be under pressure to support the demands of the traveler,” said Dave Weinstein, VP of Kube Systems, a hospitality charging solutions provider based in Jericho, NY.
Many of those demands are centered around mobility. For instance, a fully charged guest is a happy guest. Providing an abundance of charging options within every guestroom is the first step to keeping the guest connected. Guests should feel as though they’re getting a home-like experience.
“If they have a Bluetooth audio at home, they want it in their hotel room,” Weinstein explained. “If they can charge their mobile device wirelessly at home, they are going to want to be able to do that in their hotel room. If they have enough outlets and USB ports at home, same thing.”
Other companies agree: USB charging technology is emerging, as is the use of IoT for in-room purchases. “Properties provide the basic appliances, and most consumers don’t expect to find smart technology in their in-room appliances,” said Davis Poole, VP of sales and marketing at Magic Chef, an appliance brand owned by CNA International Inc. “However, if there was a way to use in-room appliances to improve WiFi connections within those rooms, that could be seen as a benefit that would draw certain customers.”
As traditional in-room appliances update appearances with new technology and functionality (e.g., adding charging ports) to stay relevant, other solutions attempt to provide alternatives to legacy products. Instead of the dual-alarm clock radio on the nightstand, guest-facing mobile solutions are offering properties bedside tablets equipped with dashboards featuring the modern alarm clock, international radio stations and weather forecasts.
“Hotels are realizing the full potential of mobile as they embrace innovation to add new features for guests,” said Gregg Hopkins, chief sales and marketing officer at Intelity, an Orlando, FL-based hospitality technology solutions provider. “A recent study by Hilton reported that 91% of travelers say technology has made travel easier over the last decade.”
Guests expect guestrooms to have connected appliances; properties aware of this notion can leverage it to their advantage financially. “A recent study reported that fully engaged hotel guests spends 46% more per year than actively disengaged guests spend,” Hopkins said. These self-service products within the guestroom enable guests to engage on their own time and terms.
This on-demand experience is thriving. “Appliances that can give guests a terrific on-demand latte in the morning while they catch up on the news, and a great glass of wine at night while they catch up on email, are the future,” said David Koretz, founder and CEO of Plum, a Dania Beach, FL-based company that makes an appliance designed to allow hotels to offer in-room wine by the glass on-demand. “I believe, over the next five years, hoteliers are going to get aggressive in leveraging technology to make this happen.” Properties able to adjust to how this shift will play in the long term are going to flourish with in-room appliance options and accommodate the needs of many guests.
“Hoteliers are going to need to react to the challenges presented by UberEats, Drizly and the other on-demand services that in many cases can deliver food and alcohol to guests faster than their own room service,” Koretz explained. “From the guest perspective, it’s all about being able to enjoy the room product without interruption. Guests increasingly want hotel rooms that feel more like their own homes.”
Above everything else, when it comes to enhancing the guest experience with in-room appliances, simplicity is key. “Folks don’t want to spend 15 minutes figuring out how to brew a pot of coffee or pop a bag of popcorn,” Poole said. “They also don’t want to spend time figuring out features they can’t or won’t be using.”