Smart Hotels: What to Expect from the Future of Hospitality

Hotel rooms seem the same to most of us—there’s a bathroom, a TV, a bed, and a couple of nightstands. However, hotels are modernizing at the speed of lighting.

Hoteliers, big and small, are looking to innovate for the future. The changes that are already taking place can give us a glimpse into the future of hospitality.

Sustainable Guest Experiences

The degree to which guests expect eco-friendly services and products has drastically increased. To keep up, hotels will have to do more than simply suggest that guests reuse towels for a few more days.

Future Hoteling management will be completely sustainable. Judging by today’s trends in the hospitality industry, the focus will continue to be on minimizing water usage, eliminating plastic, conserving energy, and cutting down food waste.

To reduce its carbon footprint and make the most of tax breaks, the hospitality industry is turning to renewable sources of energy. The world’s first energy-positive hotel will open in 2022 in Norway.

In the future, even more, hoteliers will apply a “three-zero-concept” to building new properties: zero waste (introducing life-cycle management into the building process), zero carbon dioxide (prioritizing lower emissions and energy management), and zero miles (using local construction materials and labor resources).

Hotels are also doing away with single-use plastic. The Marriott International Chain said that they will eliminate single-use toiletries by the end of 2020. In California, a law banning hotels from providing small plastic shampoo bottles to guests will start to take effect in 2023.

Even More Locally-Sourced Food

As mentioned, hotels are already dedicated to eliminating food waste. In the future, “plate waste” will become completely unacceptable in the hospitality industry. Hotels can cut down on food waste by sourcing food locally or by growing food on site.

More and more hotel restaurants are taking the farm-to-table and roof-to-table approach. They are starting their own herb gardens, rooftop bee farms, and urban farms.

For instance, QO Amsterdam has its own fully-functioning, self-sufficient ecosystem. It provides the hotel’s eateries with herbs, veggies, fruit, and even fish. The hotel also uses an aquaponic system that transforms natural refuse from the fish into organic fertilizer for the plants.

High-Tech Features

Since no one leaves their house without their smartphone anymore, hotel phones have become obsolete. Instead of making sure every guest has a telephone in their room, hotels will give guests apps to use on their own devices. Guests will have the ability to control everything in their room with their phones—air-conditioning, lighting, blinds, etc.

Rather than providing guests with remote controllers, the focus will be on giving guests access to hotel services through their own devices.

There are examples of this already taking place. For instance, Starwood and Personality Hotels let guests use their smartphones as room keys. Some hotels, such as Marriott, allow guests to check in with their smartphones. A few select Aloft hotels are experimenting with mobile-controlled lighting and air-conditioning in their rooms.

Service Robots

Robot hotel staff will become commonplace. This doesn’t mean they will replace human hospitality workers. Instead, they will assist human staff with many tasks, from housekeeping to front desk duties. This will leave hotel personnel with more time to focus on other guest enhancing experiences.

Certain hotels are already using robot butlers, receptionists, and helpers. For instance, Aloft hotels in Silicon Valley and Cupertino feature futuristic robot butlers (named Botlr).

The Yotel hotel group employs bots in a number of locations. Robots named Yolanda and Yoshi handle deliveries in Yotel Singapore. The Yobot is a luggage handler in Yotel New York, and YO2D2 is an employee of Yotel Boston that greets arriving guests, mingles in a rooftop bar, and delivers items to rooms.

Other hotels are using AI virtual assistants on their sites and apps instead of employing physical robots. For instance hotels such as Hotel Indigo,the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, and Mercure Hotels are using conversational chatbots to automate customer service and improve the overall guest experience. Chatbots can interact with guests using natural language, translate for them, and fulfill various guest requests (such as wake-up calls).

More Natural Elements

The smart hotels of the future won’t just be more sustainable than the hotels of today. They will take the term “going green” to a whole new level.

The outdoor and indoor boundaries will become blurred. To integrate the outdoors, hotels will prioritize the use of natural texture, colors, materials, as well as organic lines. The hospitality of the future will be guided by biophilia, a hypothesis that states that humans innately feel more at ease in natural-feeling surroundings.

Personalized Hotel Stays

To offer a more tailored experience, hotels have started to aggregate guest data, such as hotel rating inquiries, journey patterns and itinerary, and travel choices. As AI evolves, hotels will be able to use that data more efficiently.

By feeding various data points to AI algorithms, hoteliers will learn how to better cater to certain types of guests. Hotels will be able to predict guests’ room service preferences, dietary preferences, and what facilities they like to use the most.

I’m Rebecca, a translator and avid traveler, a book worm and horror flick enthusiast. My job has given me the amazing opportunity to travel to dozens of countries around the world, and writing on Rough Draft gives me a chance to try to showcase some of them.

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