Staying relevant and competitive in the hospitality industry is a constant race. You can’t find a winning formula and then sit back and expect to stay on top. Expectations and trends are continually changing, driven in large part by emerging innovations in technology. That’s why keeping your finger on the pulse of hospitality tech is critical to understanding the state of the industry. Even if you’re not ready to adopt them, tech trends tell you a lot about the typical consumer. With that in mind, here are some current tech trends that are currently changing the guest experience and will likely shape the expectations of the future.
Smart glass (or switchable glass) technology has been around for a while but is just beginning to pick up steam in hotel design. Notable adopters include the W San Francisco, Hilton Universal City in Los Angeles, and Eccleston Square Hotel in London.
There are different types of glass used (electrochromic, photochromic, thermo-chronic, suspended particles, micro-blind, and polymer-dispersed liquid crystal), but all adjust their opacity in response to changes in the environment and via commands from a mobile device.
For windows >> Installing smart windows is often done in the name of sustainability. The tint of the glass can be adjusted to account for the current use of the room, and the conditions outside—making guests and staff more comfortable and improving energy efficiency. In fact, Andersen Windows suggest they can reduce your energy expenditure by up to 25% (not to mention eliminating the need to buy blinds and curtains).
For bathrooms >> You have to fit a lot in a relatively small space when designing hotel rooms. But you still want it to feel spacious and comfortable for your guests. Glass-walled bathrooms are an excellent way of accomplishing just that. And by using smart glass technology, you don’t need to sacrifice privacy to make the room look bigger. When necessary, guests can simply press a button to make the walls instantly opaque.
Amazon recently announced a new virtual assistant specifically for lodging operators. Alexa for Hospitality has all the out-of-the-box features of a standard Amazon Echo with the potential to customize property-specific capabilities. For example, you can work with a third-party tech specialist so guest requests can be routed directly to your management systems and entertainment providers. That means, in addition to playing music and searching the internet, guests can also request housekeeping, find the WiFi password, ask about services and amenities and so on.
The biggest differences between personal Amazon Echos and the ones designed for hospitality have to do with security. For your guests’ privacy, hotels will never have access to search queries or answers and the history is wiped daily. For your own security, the devices cannot be factory reset and only connect to your property’s WiFi (to dissuade theft).
The final tech trend we’re going to touch on, facial recognition software, is a technology that is definitely in the beginning stages for the hospitality industry. But given its ever-growing , facial recognition will only become more prevalent.
For check-in >> Marriott International just launched a pilot program at two of their properties, Hangzhou Marriott Hotel Qianjiang and Sanya Marriott Hotel Dadonghai Bay, that uses facial recognition software to offer a faster and easier check-in experience for their guests. Self-check-in kiosks scan guest faces, verify their identity against existing ID and booking information, and dispense the appropriate room keys.
For a personalized experience >> Facial recognition software can also be used to help deliver a more personalized experience for your guests. When they walk into the lobby, the technology can recognize the guest and automatically display their profile to staff, allowing them to greet the guest by name.
As technology changes, so do the expectations of consumers. Make sure you’re keeping tabs on emerging trends, so you don’t get left behind. And click here to read about how VR, chatbots, and robots are being used in hospitality today.
This year marks WebRezPro’s 15th year streamlining daily operations for lodging providers as an automated, cloud-based property management solution. As we look back on WebRezPro’s pioneering beginnings and ahead toward ongoing innovation, this milestone is an achievement that both fills our team with pride and encourages us to never stop striving for the best for our customers.
How It All Began
Way back in the mid ‘90s our company, World Web Technologies Inc. (WWT), was running an online travel agency. The internet was pretty novel back then, but our company president, Frank Verhagen, knew it wasn’t a passing fad. In the late ‘90s, WWT released an online room reservation system for independent hotels and inns. Today it would be considered pretty basic, but back then it was exciting, cutting-edge technology that opened up a whole new marketplace for our hotel clients. As people became more comfortable with making reservations online, hoteliers quickly began to see the potential of web-based technology.
Soon our clients began to ask us about the possibility of integrating front- and back-office functionality into their online reservation system, so that they could use the software to check guests in and out, and keep track of inventory and invoicing.
Working closely with our customers, we built the features they needed into the system, until it was no longer just a reservation system. And so, in 2003, WebRezPro was born, and it continues to evolve in the same way; guided and inspired by our clients—real lodging operators.
The Potential of the Cloud
When WebRezPro was launched in 2003, web-based (cloud) software was still a fledgling concept within the hotel industry, but it was hard for our clients to ignore the benefits of an online system.
The ability to accept reservations online boosted hotel revenue for no extra effort, and the automation of previously manual administrative tasks (such as tracking reservations and inventory and issuing invoices) saved hotel staff a lot of time that they could instead focus on guests.
System setup was a breeze (no software installation needed) and typically didn’t require any extra hardware beyond what our customers already had. Plus, we took care of system maintenance, upgrades and data security remotely, taking a huge weight off our clients’ minds. Basically, we offered lodging operators an automated system that greatly increased daily operational efficiency, kept data safe, didn’t demand technical know-how from hoteliers, and was affordable to even the smallest properties.
Even so, not all lodging operators were convinced. As always, there was some resistance to change; the idea of making reservations online made some hoteliers nervous. Is the internet safe? Wouldn’t guests rather talk to someone on the phone? Isn’t software expensive and hard to learn? (I’m doing fine with my big reservations book and a calculator!)…
But as the years passed, word got around. WebRezPro was improving the bottom line at our customers’ properties, and it was bringing advantages legacy systems couldn’t offer, beyond affordability. As a web-based system, WebRezPro allowed hotels to securely access their property management system from any computer with an internet connection—on or off property. Even before the world went mobile, this was recognized as a huge convenience, eliminating the need to install and pay for software on multiple workstations.
Unlike with their legacy systems, our clients had free access to software upgrades, and they could hand over system maintenance and data security to us. As more years passed, software vendors began to realize the increasing technical ease and benefits of integration partnerships, afforded by advances in cloud technology. Integrating their hotel systems allowed lodging operators to further streamline their workflow by automating cross-system processes, for example, applying long-distance call charges and ancillary sales to guest folios, and processing credit card payments.
Those early years were an exciting time for cloud hotel technology and the innovation hasn’t stopped. We love helping our customers’ properties reach their full potential with the latest real-world technological solutions.
The Secret to Our Success
Fifteen years in, WebRezPro is enjoying exponential growth, now used at over 1,200 properties in 40 countries. That’s great news not only for our company but for the hospitality industry as a whole. It’s proof that lodging operators are embracing cloud technology to optimize operations and the guest experience.
We think WebRezPro’s success stems from an unwavering commitment to our clients’ success. No matter how big or small the property, the needs of each and every one of our clients are important to us. Our dedicated Support Team know WebRezPro inside out, are fluent in the hospitality industry, and are consistently praised for quick, personalized customer care (just take a look at some of our reviews).
As part of our mission to see our clients succeed, WebRezPro offers a high level of flexibility. This is evident within core functionality (from flexible inventory and rate/package management to customizable reports), through optional modules tailored to different lodging types (for example, our Owner Payout Module for vacation rental operators and Centralized Administration Module for property groups), through integrations with numerous other hotel systems, and through software customizations.
Every property is unique. We believe that hotel technology should be adaptable to a property’s needs and facilitate their unique vision, not limit businesses with rigid functionality.
WebRezPro is a comprehensive PMS that is always improving. Software updates are driven by industry technology innovation and lodging operators’ needs, and are often a result of direct requests from our clients. Our clients are not just customers, they are our partners, and this relationship is a big part of WebRezPro’s success.
Our mission to support lodging operators with practical technological solutions that improve efficiency, the guest experience and revenue, in step with the latest hospitality trends and innovations is an eternal one. Technology is always evolving, and so must we all with it!
Vendor partnerships that contribute to the centralization and optimization of data through system integration are key to unlocking greater efficiency and innovation at every property. WebRezPro currently has partnerships with over 90 hospitality technology vendors, including channel managers and OTAs, payment gateways, POS systems, guest experience platforms, mobile keys and more. We are always forging relationships with vendors that help enhance our solution, and will continue to do so.
Solutions that optimize and mobilize data for greater personalization of the guest experience—such as guest messaging, mobile check-in and mobile key apps—are particularly exciting. Continuing advances in mobile technology within WebRezPro’s own feature set, along with third-party integrations, will ensure our customers stay ahead of the game.
“Our team is proud to reach this milestone with such a strong outlook. We believe in this product and the value it offers our clients, and are proud to be a trusted technology partner for all types of properties.” —Frank Verhagen, President at World Web Technologies, Inc.