Technology has been used widely in many industries recently. It is no doubt that technology changing both the operation and performance of variety of industries. While, some of the industries take a further step to update their business by using smart technology in order to advance to their competitors and enlarge the global market in many aspects such as, design, after-sales-support, marketing, HR, and security. However, smart technology changing the hospitality industry by changing the way service provided and operation of the companies in different aspects.
According to the Collins dictionary, technology is defined as “methods, systems, and devices which are the result of scientific knowledge being used for practical purpose”. While, smart technology seems to be a further step of technology which improve efficiency and productivity. For instance, smart phone is a technological device and people could use apps through this technology to booking hotels and services, pay for utilities, and etc. which make life easier. People begin to connect variety of techniques together replacing the old-fashion living style by reducing time and energy consumption. Moreover, smart technology makes an overwhelming impact on hospitality industry.
1. How smart technology used in hospitality industry?
• Robot delivering
Hotels use smart technology to bring unique experience to customers by using robot room servicers. For example, Starwood, one of the world’s largest hotel company, use robot’s butler to deliver room service at its boutique hotel-Aloft Cupertino. The robots’ butler helps to reduce the responsibility and working capacity of hotel staff. It is easier to use the robots to deliver items to guests. While, majority of customers reflected that they have a pleasant experience and they are willing to feel sensory of new technology at Aloft Cupertino hotel.
• Entertainment and control
Samsung LYNK is an IP network infrastructure which help to control electronic devices such as, curtain, television, and air-conditioner. Customers could manage those devices together by using the LYNK template. Besides controlling of the electronic devices, there are variety of information on traveling and entertainment which helps guest to have a prestige experience in the hotel. Converged LANs, as the other example to support management of multiple service, is help to personalize the service before stay. The LANs combined controlling of lights, refrigeration, and heating systems together as a smarter controller in order to help personalized the staying experience. Moreover, hotel firms begin to using smart technology to connect guest’s electronic devices with the entertainment devices in the hotel room in order to respect the guest’s interests and appreciation on games. Guest could experience a sense of familiarity which leads to a feeling of home.
• Infrared scanners
Infrared scanners are used to record the appearance of customers before, differently, it is used to reduce disruption of guest during housekeeping. Specifically, housekeeper recognized whether guest need housekeeping by seeing the sign on the door. But now, housekeepers could use infrared scanners to check whether guests are in the room in order to forbid disturbances which lead to better service. Moreover, Infrared scanners are not only use to provide pleasant experience but also personalized advertising. In particular, the infrared scanners could recognize the gender, age range, race, and etc. of transient people. The advertisement may show differently when different people passing in the lobby depending on their characteristics.
• Smart room keys
Smart technology has been used into access system of hospitality industry. Particularly, smart room keys allow guest to get in to the hotel room by holding his/her electronic key on their phone instead of the original key. For example, Starwood using smart room key systems to bring convenient to their customers. Guest who stay in Sheraton, Weston, and “w” hotels may experience the smart key systems and they do not need to worry about if they lose the key or left the key in the room.
• Mobile communication & automation
Smart technology is not new to hospitality industry and it has been used in the hotels during the 90s (Singh, A., & Kasavana, 2005). We could experience smart technology during the pre-arrival, arrival, stay, and departure (Singh, A., & Kasavana, 2005). To begin with, customers could book hotels on the smart phone by using an app directly. While, it is no necessary to stand in the lobby in a hotel to check in and people could check in automated by phone. For instance, “ariane” is a software which cooperate with variety of hotels. Customers could get 24/7 checking in service on the phone after download the ariane software. Besides the check-in and check-out service, customers could optimize personal room selection and use mobile room key automatically. Furthermore, near field communication (NFC) technology seems to be the other smart technological improvement which bring convenient to payment process. To be specific, the NFC technology provide access to exchange data between two electronic devices. Mobile payment could be easily processed in seconds when two devices touched each other (Pesonen, J., & Horster, 2012).
Smart technology helps hotel firms to get feedback from guest through social media apps and software such as, twitter, Facebook, and Instagram by seeing their pictures, complaints, and dairy. It is an easier and efficient way to track comments from guests instead the old-fashioned ways. Guest may not be willing to take time to finish the survey or they may just finish it perfunctorily. While when the guest posts the picture of the stay, they are showing their true feelings, they are also advertising and showing their brand loyalty as the same time which could affect the reputation of the firm in a positive direction.
2. What are the issues and recommendations of using smart technology?
• Robot delivery:
“Robot delivering” is a creative marketing strategy which use smart technology to attract customers to have a pleasant experience when they get the service of delivering instead of a stuff delivering. While, celebrities and political authority may want to block the message of their stay in the hotel in order to reduce the concern of security. Compare to the human stuff, robots may not recognize who they are and come out the personal information to others. However, although there are several advantages to use a robot, there are still plenty of issues to use smart technology besides the real human stuff. Firstly, robot, as a high technology machine, require employee who is familiar with technology and able to use high technology properties to run and set up before serving and delivering. It is necessary to have a training program to deal with the problems before appliances. According to Boyce, “without proper managers, everything has to overengineered” (Schuman, 2013). It is meaningless to use smart technology without proper management. While, Training programs is significant and needed but it may increase the fixed cost and waste time. Also the performance of using robots is unforeseen which may lead to more problems. Hotel firm’s reputation may be destroyed by using the robots improperly. Secondly, hotels need to pay a large amount of money on purchasing the smart technology product-robots. It is a challenge decision to companies to using robots because it may cause more problems in the process of application. Majority of companies are not willing to take the risk on trying innovation. Moreover, the robot is a machine with high technology, it may have inaccuracy during the complete working process. It may cause more trouble which messed up the service. On the other hand, robots need to maintain and update after using in a specific period. The productivity would be reduced by recharging or changing battery and maintenance. Last but not the least, some of the customers prefer face to face communication with real people instead of a cold- blooded machine which bring intimacy and a sense of warm. Above all, using robots in the hotel room service may limited the customer range to people who prefer innovative experience.
On the other hand, ask preference before check-in may help the hotel to have a better understanding on adoption of technology in order to provide a personalized and pleasant experience to guest. Providing service depending on the age range is an effective suggestion. To be specific, old generation may not adapt to the smart technology, hotels could provide robot delivering to middle aged group and younger generation and provide real people staff to serve elder generation.
• Entertainment and control:
Majority of old generation are not familiar with how to using an automatic infrastructure to control the electrical devices. To be specific, elders feel exhausted by using technology. A large population of elders reflected that they faced barriers and hardship to adopt new living style with innovation. Also the elder people have problems on using touchscreen because the sensitivity of touching is losing by age Old generation may no choose hotels which use automatic infrastructure. This issue leads to a decrease on target customer range.
Moreover, the other issue is that Infrastructure could be stolen and destroyed. The damage of infrastructure may increase the cost on maintenance. It will also affect the operation of the devices in the room such as, curtain, fridge, air-conditioner, and lights. if the infrastructure is not work properly, all the electrical devices will out of control which lead to undesirable feelings on hotel service quality.
To solve those problems, hotel could set up or design the room depends on the level of adoption of innovation. Giving guest opportunities to choose their preference. Hotel could have different levels of room based on the use of technology. Young generation could choose highest level to experience the automatic control system and entertainment. Old generation may get a chance to stay in a room with old-fashioned electrical devices as same as what they used at home to get a feeling of relax. While, charging deposit of automatic control tablet is a solution of reducing destroy and damage.
• Infrared scanners:
Infrared scanner has used to reduced disruption on housekeeping and personalized advertising. There are several limitations on the use of infrared scanners. To begin with, infrared scanner has distance limitation which lead to inaccuracy on the testing result. For example, when the housekeeper tried to use infrared scanner to test whether guest is in the room, they scanning in front of the door, the corners in the room may not be test because it is out of the range or stop by obstacle. The inaccurate result may cause more disruption. Furthermore, infrared waves are harmful as exposure to cause eye problems. People may not want to choose to stay in the hotel especially for family with kids and pregnancy. Using infrared scanners leading a damage on reputation of the hotel brand and lose of customers.
Infrared scanner may not be a perfect way to decrease the disturb during housekeeping.
• Smart Room Key:
Smart room key has been used in W, Element, and Aloft Hotels, under Starwood. Guest could easily open the door with their phone after connected to the Bluetooth. Hilton hotels also invited digital key systems to update the experience of staying. Although smart key has been testing and using by several well-known luxury hotel brands, there are still limitation and issues on the application of smart room keys. In particular, smart key is settle on a smart phone by connecting Bluetooth. It is necessary to have Bluetooth to use the key directly. The smart key may not function without Bluetooth. And guest may not able to get into the room if the phone was out of battery. However, security is the other concern of using smart room key. Personal information and the access of the smart key may capture by technology experts and hackers which lead to security threaten.
While, a lot of guest prefer using smart room key but it is still issues of using smart technology. Hotel could let the guest set a security code before check-in and it is required to type the code on the phone every time before using the smart key to make sure no other people get into the room.
• Mobile communication & automation (marketing):
Mobile phone plays a crucial role on develop smart technology on booking process. It brings convenience yet problems. Mobile communication and automation make no sense for wireless such as, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. If there is no Wi-Fi people could do nothing to booking for the stay. There are a lot of public areas do not provide free Wi-Fi. People may feel limitation of using smart phone to finish booking. Furthermore, arbitrary attacker could easily control appliance in the hotel during to get the guest personal information which is used to sell for profit illegally. This is a serious safety issue bring negative affect on both guests and Hotel firms.
However, investing smart technology into hotel industry is not “an expense but an investment in future competitiveness” (Connolly, D., & Olsen, 2001). Hacker is a chronic threaten on technology recently. It is difficult to avoid attacking of hackers. Even though technology rapidly improved but people need think more about the consequences of using smart technology.
3. After sales support
Hotels may get feedback from a lot of social media apps easily by using smart technology. While, although it is easier for hotel companies to get the initial feedback from different ways, there are still issues. The use of technology helps the company to have a function “within an information society and a global context” at the same time but it also increases the gap between management and technology by assimilation (Kirk, D., & Pine, 1998).
To be specific, some of the guest may post subjective feedback and experience which affect the reality and accuracy of experience. Hotels may come up inefficient or meaningless strategies to change the strategy depends on those objective point of views.
Furthermore, hotels may use social media webs to invite loyalty customers and first time customers to finish a questionnaire or survey online by rewarding promotion or discount on their next stay.
Technology has been used wildly in different fields. Hospitality industry as a vivid example of benefit from using smart technology in different aspects, after-sale-support, design, marketing, HR, and security. This report focus on how hotel firms using smart technology and issues on the design, marketing, and after-sale-support respectively. Although smart technology makes a big contribution on the transformation of hotel industry it also contains issues and problem. While, hotel companies would consider the consequences and effectiveness of investment on smart technology. It is no doubt that the way of introducing and operating the smart technology is a sophisticated issue for hospitality companies.