By Elaine Sahlins, MAI, CRE, Managing Director, Hospitality & Gaming, Valuation & Advisory
The future of our “high-touch” industry is being transformed with technology. Innovations in robotics, virtual reality, augmented reality and connectivity are being quickly pursued by hotel companies and their vendors. Beyond the expected robots being introduced into hotels that vacuum and deliver room service, hotels are expected to be more and more dependent on technology. As we become familiar and reliant on smart management devices in our homes, such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Home, our requirement of being able to have these resources in hotels will increase. We anticipate that in the next wave of hotel design, guests will be able to turn on lights, music and screens with verbal cues from smart management devices in the rooms or from their cells phones when they enter the hotel.
It is now easy and commonplace to provide guests, particularly loyalty program members, with their preferred snacks, water and pillows, but personalization is becoming much more prevalent and necessary. Before guests even arrive at their hotel, they will have already previewed their experience on evolving virtual and augmented reality tools. The use of these expanded visual capabilities are now required for sales and marketing tools for guests. The technologies are also being used more and more for design and construction; the layout of guestrooms and aesthetics of a project can be shown to potential investors and franchisees for a much richer experience than the traditional 2-D renderings.
Underlying all of the future evolution of technology as part of the guest experience is the explosion of mobile device integration. Guests will continue to require that all aspects of their stay at a hotel will originate from their phone. Researching the destination, booking the hotel, opening the guestroom door, ordering room service, streaming the workout program and checking out will all eventually happen from a guest’s device. The challenges of providing services to guests that are seeking an efficient visit will require integrating human hospitality into a cloud-based stay. From the hotel’s perspective, the ability to gather all the additional data about a guest’s activities and preferences will provide greater metadata for marketing and service, and enhance the ability of hotels to personalize the stay.
How prescient the film 2001 was.
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Elaine Sahlins, MAI, CRE is a Managing Director in the Hospitality & Gaming practice of Cushman & Wakefield where she provides appraisal and consulting services for hotels and casinos. With over 25 years of experience, Ms. Sahlins has performed valuations and market and feasibility studies of hotel and gaming properties throughout the United States relating to financing, feasibility and other real estate issues.