These challenges faced by hoteliers had led to a non-proactive service culture in relation to technology at many hotels, according to Price.
“One of the peculiarities is we’re a guest-service business, but in hotels we’re relying on the guests to be the eyes and ears of whether something is working or not in a hotel room. That should not be the case,” he asserted.
“The hotel should be intelligent enough to know when a device is not working in a room. That is related to having a connected infrastructure. It’s of huge dissatisfaction to guests if they find something doesn’t work, but technology is hard for operators to control on a room-by-room basis.”
The Rezidor Group is all too familiar with the challenge, according to Neumann: “Connectivity is a key demand in our generations X and Y markets. When we sit down with developers to look at what should be built in rooms it makes sense, but the challenge is implementing it,” he adds.
“It’s so easy to get carried away by the possibilities of technology, but we need to know we can roll it out in a consistent way so that the guest understands and uses it. The research shows the majority of our guests are not that tech savvy. Generations X and Y are, but our guests aren’t this generation. In 15 years they will be.”
But Price took the opinion of ‘build it and they will come’.
“In Mandarin Oriental, we put technology as a core pillar of our brand statement. [As a result] we saw the average age of our customers come down, which is a positive thing.
“We need to readjust our mindset to look at an infrastructure built to allow us to deliver these [connectivity] services, rather than offering a physical device,” Price asserted.
Cieslik added: “We have to provide the means for technology use. You can’t have an iPad in every room”.
“We’re enablers rather than providers,” concluded Price.