In-room appliances need to elevate the guest experience

Prodigio is Nespresso’s first connected machine. It includes automatic capsule ejection; a removable water tank; empty water tank detection; scheduled brewing; capsule stock management; and a folding drip tray for a latte macchiato glass.

Guestrooms are constantly on the lookout for multi-purpose pieces, and this trend extends to in-room appliances, which have long lent themselves to multi-purpose use, as is the case with the staple of the combination mini-fridge. However, in modern trends, in-room appliances aren’t so much merging with each other as they are connecting with technology.

“We are seeing a trend of connectivity and integration to systems,” said John Edwards, chief information officer at RLHC (Red Lion Hotels Corporation). “This also is the start of the Internet of Things (IoT) movement, the internetworking of various devices.”

This, of course, makes sense, since hospitality always seem to follow residential, and the smart home sector has increased exponentially in recent months. When guests stay at a hotel—whether it is a mid-market property or a luxury resort—they don’t just want what they already have at home; they want even more. “With the home/consumer IoT market exploding, guests are going to start expecting similar solutions and connectivity in their hotel rooms,” Edwards said.

For hotels opting out of the traditional minibar, Bartech offers its eTray solution, which features wireless technology and a leather exterior.

With the guest propensity to bring their own device—and, in most cases, several devices—power is an integral commodity to think about when buying in-room appliances. An alarm clock can’t just wake guests up—chances are, the guest is using his phone as an alarm. Instead, in-room products must facilitate that need. “Everyone is trying to get power everywhere and making it easy for guests to connect to power,” said Edwards. Guestrooms have introduced multiple ports into nightstands, lamps and desks. With guests carrying so many personal devices on their travels, they expect multiple points of power to charge.

While rooms are adding charging ports, they are not adding much else in the way of appliances. The trends for in-room appliances are veering toward minimalism. Instead of adding new pieces, hotels are removing appliances that they feel no longer suit travelers’ needs or the quality of experience.

“They have stopped putting cooktops in extended-stay hotels,” said Larry Carver, president, Carver & Associates. “Limited-service properties used to always have a micro-fridge combination—microwave and refrigerator—but they are generally no longer required.”

Coffeemakers, too, are another victim of this trend. “Hotels are rethinking their approach to in-room coffee and tea offerings for guests,” said Lorino. “Knowing that, in many cases, in-room coffeemakers deliver convenience at the expense of quality, hotels are turning their focus toward how to elevate these offerings to travelers. Some hotels have done away with in-room coffeemakers, choosing to drive guests to the lobby because they can deliver a better experience. While we still have in-room coffeemakers on-hand to accommodate guests who prefer to make their own cup of coffee, we’ve found that many hotels are placing a larger emphasis on quality via lobby programming or investing more money on the in-room guest experience.”

The Kube Essentials alarm clock, designed by Kube Systems, features multiple charging options, including a top-mount AC outlet, two rapid-charge smart USB ports and a wireless Qi charging pad that attaches to the base of the unit as an additional option. Kube Essentials will be available to hotels next month.

In some cases, replacing old products with new improvements can elevate the experience. With many hotels starting coffee programs in the lobby, in-room coffee must match or exceed that quality. “Hotels such as Hotel Theodore in Seattle are elevating the in-room coffee experience at a significant cost in order to preserve the quality of the offering in the comfort of the guestroom,” said Chris Lorino, Provenance Hotels’ regional director of operations in Washington. “When the hotel opens in summer 2017, the rooms will feature Nespresso machines, which come at a higher cost in terms of both product and equipment, though delivers an elevated guest experience.”

And as for bathroom appliance trends to look out for, Stacy Elliston, principal of Studio 11 Design, noted, “We are seeing a lot of movement away from the wall-mounted hair dryer—which we, as designers, are most grateful for.”

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