Tag: Hotel TechnologyView All Tags
You know the feeling. You’re checking into a hotel, maybe a little late. You get into the elevator a little wary. You emerge onto your floor, hoping that the room won’t be directly opposite the elevator door, or that it won’t be overlooking a rubbish dump, that it won’t be a disabled room if you don’t need it – hey, you might even be hoping for a particular layout or color scheme, we won’t judge.
Well, UK chain Thistle Hotels wants to quell your anxiety with its new “Choose Your Own Room” service, being trialed at its London Euston property. They reckon that 48% of British hotel guests have asked to change rooms before (this being Britain, we reckon that means at least another 48% have wanted to ask but felt too impolite to do so), and 40% feel some kind of anxiety about getting saddled with a dud pre check-in.
With Choose Your Own Room, you can, unsurprisingly, choose your own room, with 360-degree virtual tours of available rooms, so you can pick the one you want. According to the Telegraph, who gave it a whirl:
After booking a room at the Thistle Euston, guests are sent an email granting online access to the hotel floor plan. On a Wednesday night, I was given the option of picking between five different rooms available over two floors in my price category. There were also photos for each room, including a 360-degree interactive “tour”.
The photos included views and different color schemes, in order to pick the exact one you want. Which is almost more anxiety-inducing, in a way – what if you pick the wrong one?
We had the opportunity to play with the tweaked and updated app at a recent stay in Chicago and we're pretty excited about it.
Right from our mobile phone (or iPad, if we wanted), we could access as much info about the property as we could from the in-room compendium. But the real magic was exposed on our way home from a night out in River North.
Not Vegas. A lobby
With hotels piling in to chase the millennial dollar, it’s reassuring to see one brand going back to what hotels always used to do to get clients – pile on the superlatives.
After three months of work and millions of euros, NH Hotels have just reopened the NH Collection Madrid Eurobuilding (definitely not a millennial name), now the biggest hotel for the brand. NH may not be a big deal to American ears but they’re one of Europe’s most reliable brands, treading the line between business and boutique quite impeccably (also, delicious toiletries, if you ask my mum). Anyway, this is the flagship property for the NH Collection brand, and it’s pushing the boundaries of hotel technology. Basically, they have what we’re looking for in a hotel down pat:
Well-equipped rooms: “Brilliant Basics” is the name for the thinking behind the room design. All 431 rooms have specially commissioned mattresses, rain showerheads, Nespresso machines, professional hairdryers and “next generation LED” TVs.
VIP level if you want it: If you stay on the “five star floor” you get access to the VIP lounge, too.
All the services you need, plus fun extras: Spa, fitness center, event spaces, rooftop solarium with a fake beach, two fine-dining restaurants (including DiverXO, Madrid’s only three Michelin-starred restaurant), a lounge and a sushi bar.
Fashion-forward technology: An LED vault screen (the largest in Europe, and the largest in the world for hotels) in the lobby projects digital art and “special sound” across the lobby. Think the Fremont Street Experience in Vegas, but in a hotel lobby. Insanity!
Cutting-edge tech: Here’s the really interesting part – there are four ”Living Lab” bedrooms (plus communal areas) that are trialing the latest hotel tech – not just wireless mobile charging, but tablets providing a video link to reception for when you need to ask a pressing question. The Living Lab isn’t just about hotel guests – it’s apparently an initiative to “identify and encourage entrepreneurial talent by fostering pioneering projects in the hotel industry”. They will be running contests and promoting hotel tech-related start-ups. We dig.
Last week, Marriott International was fined $600,000 by the FCC for jamming up guests mobile WiFi hotspots at the Gayord Hotel in Nashville (a Marriott entity), thus forcing guests to join the hotel's network and pay the ridiculous WiFi fees. This week, Marriott wants to win back some love by announcing that a whopping 29 Marriott hotels will sport wireless charging stations for guests to charge their devices on.
We heard the news the other day and we were just like, well, this:
The gesture is appreciated, especially since it came about from a survey of real travelers on Marriott's TravelBrilliantly.com platform, meaning that Marriott is really listening to what guests want. And we've all been there when we roll up into a hotel and our phone dies. Or we forget our charger completely.
We can also respect the type of charging stations being used--a KS Portable from Kube Systems which uses the Qi wireless charging technology. Simply place your device, whether it be an iPhone or a Galaxy so long as it's equipped for wireless charging, on one of these black cubes and voila! You're charging. Up to six devices are allowed too.
But let's be real, it's hard for us to get excited about charging our devices in a hotel that is charging us for WiFi.
UPDATE: A publicist for Marriott Hotels wanted to clarify that WiFi is free in the lobbies at Marriott Hotels.
[Photo: Marriott Hotels; GIF: Giphy.com]
Hotel Openings / Hotel Technology / Hotel News / Millennial Hotels / Hub Hotels / Premier Inn Hotels / Premier Inn / → All Tags
A tech-friendly hotel that accepts reservations by app? Snooze. A tech-friendly hotel that only accepts reservations by app? Now that’s something we’re not sure anyone’s dared try before. Except there’s probably a reason for that.
Next month, budget UK chain Premier Inn launches a new brand, hub, with a flagship hotel opening in St Martin’s Lane, central London. It’s another millennial-friendly idea – aiming “to catch the imagination of guests who already rely on technology for many other aspects of their everyday lives”. Technology is going to play a central part – or, rather, the new hub by Premier Inn app will.
You’ll check in via the app, of course; then during your stay, you can control the TV channel, the room temperature or the lighting by using the app. You can use it to order food to pick up downstairs, and stream entertainment on the 40in TV. And for when you venture outside, the app contains a “detailed local area guide, hosting a careful edit of the hottest places” (more millennial speak, there), and even “is enhanced by an Augmented Reality experience in the room”. Not sure what that means. Not sure we want to.
Hotel Service / Botlr / Hotel Robots / Aloft Hotels / Hotel Technology / California Hotels / Cupertino Hotels / Cupertino Aloft / → All Tags
Named for its purpose and state of mind, Botlr, the robotic servant is currently at the tail end of a test run at the Cupertino Aloft in California. We told you all about Botlr last month but in case you need a refresher, here's how he/it works:
After receiving a request that needs to be delivered, such as a snack or small amenity, a hotel employee programs the robot by hitting a few buttons. Botlr then uses the hotel Wifi to interact within the hotel and perform tasks, such as calling and directing the elevator to a specific floor. It is programmed with a mapping system that allows it to navigate through the property, the exact same technology used by Google's self-driving cars. Cameras help it avoid obstacles and real people.
When it arrives, it uses a signal to call the room telephone and alert the guest. Sensors allow Botlr to recognize when the door is opened and lift the lid on its storage container. And instead of being silently pressured into giving a tip, guests can enter a review for Botlr on its flat panel display screen. If it's a positive review, the Botlr will do a little dance. Well, that solves our problem of not having enough cash on us.
About a month ago, our bro Jaunted wondered aloud whether virtual reality could make waves in the travel industry, allowing people to be mentally transported to destinations around the globe without physically leaving their home cities. We've thought about this very same concept in the form of hotels and online virtual tours as a way to experience properties before booking.
This morning, Marriott unveiled the mother of all virtual tours, a piece of technology it calls "The Teleporter," a virtual reality machine that allows people to "tour" some of its hotels in the States. The Teleporter made its public debut at the Marriott in New York. It will remain there for five days, then take off for the rest of its eight-city tour to its properties in Boston, DC, Atlanta, Dallas, San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco.
Judging from the early reports, Marriott didn't cut any corners when developing the technology. A journalist from Wired had great things to say about the experience, noting that "pumps embedded in the floor, misting nozzles in the walls, heater blowers in the ceiling, fans in the ceiling and floor, a scent dispenser, and a 1000-watt amplifier all deepen the feelings of immersion. When you land on the beach, the pumps in the floor create the feeling of a cushioned landing, and you feel 80-degree warmth, a sea breeze, and ocean mist."
At the start of the year, we were raving about how Starwood Hotels was piloting a program for Starwood Preferred Guests members to use their smartphones to open hotel room doors. Recently, we heard that Marriott International, which already allows its guests to check-in and check-out via smartphone, was working on smartphone room entry as well.
But all that effort just got a little more complicated now that Apple has unveiled the Apple Watch, which will do the exact same thing.
During Apple's keynote today, it was revealed that the watch is partnering with Starwood's app to open room doors. Surely, the technology won't be limited to just Starwood, so we fully expect this to branch out to other hotel brands.
As with the smartphone room entry, two things need to happen in order for the doors to actually open. First, the doors themselves need to equipped with
RFID technology the technology that Apple Watch will be using which is NFC/Bluetooth (which was actually in place in a hotel in Sweden in 2010.) Most new hotels are built with RFID technology so that you simply hold your key card up to the door and it unlocks. (Here's what it looks like.)
But a lot of older hotels, even ones from a few years ago, will need to updated. And that costs money.
Second, the hotels need to create their app which is also a big investment. And because not everyone will fork out $350 for the Apple Watch when it hits stores later this spring, hotels will still need to keep up with their smartphone apps. Oh and don't forget the masses of people who still love the old room keys. (For another reason why the technology won't be universal, read the second comment below.)
We're not saying watch and smartphone entry are impossible. We truly believe it's going to happen and will happen quickly but it won't be universal.
Will you open your hotel room door with the AppleWatch? Sound off in comments below!
[Photos: Gizmodo and HotelChatter]
Let he among us who hasn't found an old key in their wallet and smiled cast the first stone.
Now that we're living in a world with electronic wristbands, mobile check-in, and smartphones that act as room keys, an honest question comes to mind: Are we getting closer to the death of the room key as we know it?
Sounds dramatic, but it's not that unrealistic to assume that we'll see our first "keyless" hotel within the next couple years. Environmentally and practically, it might not be the worst of ideas. But let us be the first to say that we would be terribly saddened to check into a hotel and not receive a key.
Sure, some are more elusive than others and tend to disappear easily. And yes, others are blatant advertisements for Domino's. But more often than not, hotel keys are unique mementos of the experiences we have at hotels, many artfully designed and immediately recognizable. A casual hotel goer may not notice one here and there, yet over time, as you see more and more of them, you begin to appreciate the ones that stand out from the crowd.
Hotel Apps / Ritz-Carlton Hotels / Mobile Check-In / Travel Poster / Hotel News / Hotel Technology / → All Tags
We've been keeping tabs on all the Marriott International hotel brands that have been rolling out the option of checking-in via their respective apps and now, Ritz-Carlton Hotels can be added to the list.
The luxury brand's newest app includes the options of doing both check-in and check-out, as well as folio reviews, exclusive local content, special offers, food and beverage orders (at select hotels), and most interesting, real-time service requests.
Ritz-Carlton is already pioneering this function at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, in Florida where guests can make food and beverage requests while at the pool. The order is sent from the guest phone to the bar and is fulfilled right away. That means you don't have to lay in your lounge chair, meekly calling, "Miss? Miss? Sir? Sir?" while servers fly by you, unaware that you'd like another margarita.
The app will also introduce a shareable "Travel Poster" feature on October 1. In short, it will be Ritz-Carlton's own version of Instagram where guests can pretty up their photos with retro-style special filters, titles and stamps. The photo will then be shared across social media or else, saved to the phone's camera roll. Start gathering your witty Ritz-Carlton hashtags now.
[Screenshot: Ritz-Carlton Hotels]
Hotel Technology / Park Hyatt Hotels / Hotel Openings / Central Park Hotels / Manhattan Hotels / → All Tags
We took you all around the Park Hyatt New York a few weeks ago but in honor of the luxury hotel's official opening day, we're spotlighting 5 tech touches in the guest rooms that we thought you'd like. Rooms for tonight are holding steady at $725 for a Park Deluxe King.
CLEARLY MARKED BEDSIDE BUTTONS. Turning on and off the lights with the press of a button can actually be accomplished here. (Shout-out to the extra outlets!)
NEWEST NESPRESSO MODEL. Even the pods are different!
INTELITY iPAD MINIS. Each guest will have one of these on the nightstand to use during their stay. (The iPads were not installed yet during our visit so, just imagine.)
GADGET HOOK-UP. A power/gadget hook-up strip is installed at each desk.
TOTO TOILETS. Yes, this matters.
Check out all the photos of a Studio Suite below!
Hotel Openings / Hotel Opening Rates / Hotel Hype / Paris Hotels / Peninsula Hotels / Luxury Hotels / Hotel iPads / Hotel Technology / Free WiFi / → All Tags
It’s been open a full two weeks now, and although we haven’t quite found the $1000 to stay at Peninsula Paris (give us another week or 500), others have – and a newspaper has checked it out too. Here’s what they say about the $999,000,000 project.
The 26 TripAdvisor reviews are mixed, leaning towards the negative – though a good tranche are from people who’ve just eaten, rather than stayed at the hotel.