The IT sector has woken up to what is being labelled as a "huge opportunity" in the hospitality industry to modernise and improve the so-called guest experience.
Until relatively recently, a hotel's IT was based on traditional systems: computers, networks, back-office systems, a business centre and connections to a central reservation platform.
But the proliferation of mobile has put enormous challenges on hotels and chains, but equally given many of them the chance to place many of their guest services onto to smartphones and other devices.
That, of course, doesn't come easily (or cheaply). But the vision is there and some of the biggest IT players in the world are working out ways to persuade hoteliers that they
Speaking at the FITURTech event in Madrid, Spain, in January, John Monaghan, a consultant systems engineer for Cisco, says providing wifi is one of the most critical factors for any modern hotel, but there a number of other areas that are becoming as important.
The bandwidth of wifi services will have to be increased massively (also giving hotels the chance to offer better, premium connections to guests), with an estimted ten-fold growth in the amount of mobile data whizzing around the web.
In addition, IPv6 (the new version of the global internet protocol standards) will become a significant requirement for most suystems over the course of the next 12-18 months (Apple insists all new apps will have to be IPv6-compliant this year), with networks needing capacity and functionality to handle the upgrades.
But most importantly of all is the opportunity that hotels have to engage with and manage guests via mobile services.
Take in-room services, for example. Monaghan argues that at a basic level, hotels should have free wifi and easy energy controls to hand, but also mobile devices can be used for air-con operation, entertainment controls and room-key activation.
Cisco has built a mobile app demo that includes a string of features that it believes can be at the heart of the new hotel guest experience.
The interactive demo is here, but screenshots are listed below...
Welcome message which uses the unique ID on a mobile device to send a message when the guest arrives outside the hotel:
Check-in and upgrade options:
On-phone room key:
Live map to show the guest how to locate their room:
Individual room guides (with links to services and controls):
Entertainment control and selections:
Offers for hotel services, triggered using GPS:
Local activities and things to do:
Check-out and services for leaving the hotel:
NB: Hotel IT image via Shutterstock.
NB2: Disclosure - author's attendance in Madrid was supported by FITUR.