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Hotel Guest Room Technology

Introduction

It is important to note that technologies in the field of hospitality are of paramount importance for the effective and successful operation of the given form of businesses, which heavily rely on customer satisfaction and proper flow of procedures. Among these innovative measures are hotel guest room technologies, which are primarily focused on bringing a significant degree of improvements in regards to the guest experience. The given research analysis will mainly focus on the internet-based guest room technologies in the context of different hotel types, guest demographics, and adjacent technologies, as well as their impact on improving guest satisfaction.

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Historical Overview

The general history of hotel guest room technologies is becoming more in tune with the modern mandatory devices, which makes the overall integration more convenient and useful. In order to properly understand the subject, it is important to assess the essential examples, such as plastic key cards, which are derivatives of older standard key approaches. Hotels guest room technologies advanced towards more innovative and modern solutions in order to bring more guest satisfaction levels through factors of security, privacy, and convenience. It is well-known that the most basic format of guest room access provision is a provision of standard key duplicates for the guest rooms. However, the majority of modern hotels moved away from such a measure towards plastic card keys, which are more convenient and safer due to their inherent interconnectedness to the hotels’ technological interface and network.

Nevertheless, the recent guest room technologies are making the latter tools obsolete with the use of smartphone-based mobile keys, which mainly utilize a guest’s mobile phone to provide access to the guest room. It is stated that “smartphone applications are becoming central to the hotel guest experiences as a soft pillow, extra towels and a competitive price” (Torres, n.d., p. 1). In other words, the evidence is indicative of the fact that guest experience can be greatly improved through mobile key utilization if the latter is incorporated effectively in terms of procedural elements.

Innovative service technologies are used throughout the hotel and on its territory. The significant difference between a motel and a hotel is mainly related to the quality of service. The latest data transmission devices are often installed in hospitality centers and conference rooms. The operation of the hotel is very specific, where the restaurant, lobby, and rooms have various integrated power sources, light, and temperature provide a comfortable environment for guests. This system improves the authority and status of the hotel and its owner. Nano-aromatization, which is one of the latest developments in the field, is widely used in this hotel. It is built-in ventilation with a unique system that converts aromatic oils into microparticles, which in turn fill all rooms with aroma. For example, with this innovation, a light citrus flavor is felt in the hotel lobby and in the rooms, while the restaurant has a vanilla and coffee aroma. All rooms and doors to service areas can be equipped with electronic locks such as Vingcard, which are opened with a key card. Detailed readings can be taken from any lock at any time. Swiss hotels are renowned for their high level of service and special attention to the privacy and security of their stay. For example, the Grand Hotel Le Richemond, located in Geneva, and a list of other hotels offer their guests, personal bodyguards.

Business versus Leisure Hotels

One should be able to clearly differentiate between the intricacies of leisure and business travelers or guests because these groups possess a wide range of distinct needs. It is stated that “advances in technology and in subsequent guest-related amenities have the potential to improve the guest experience and also increase both guestroom revenues and ancillary room revenues. Innovative technologies will be one of the prime differentiators of hotel companies in the twenty-first century” (Bilgihan, Smith, Ricci, & Bujisic, 2016, p. 118). In other words, the overall implications of such technologies extent beyond guestrooms and encompass a broader range of hospitality areas of interest. However, the prime target is focused on identified key elements of the guest experience in regards to both leisure and business travelers. A study is indicative of the fact that “high-speed internet access and guest device connectivity were perceived more important by business travelers than by leisure travelers” (Bilgihan et al., 2016, p. 118). In other words, the first evident pattern emerges in the case of business guests needing internet-based guest room technologies more prominently than leisure seekers.

Demographics

However, one should be aware that guest demographics can also play a vital role in changing the key drivers and indicators for guest room technology’s usefulness. It is stated that “results indicated significant attitudinal (e.g. internet payment preference) and demographic (e.g. age) differences among the obtained hotel guest typologies regarding their attitudes toward GRTs” (Erdem, Atadil, & Nasoz, 2019, p. 225). In other words, the key categorical differences among hospitality customers can change the dynamics of guest satisfaction factors, which, in turn, highly affect the return-on-investment elements on these guest room technologies. Therefore, the given findings are indicative of the notion of hotels being aware of the core demographic patterns among travelers.

Home-Related Guest Satisfaction

In addition to the described influencing factors of the guest experience through guest room technologies, there are an array of considerations, which need to be made in regards to expectation levels. It is stated that “hotel guest technologies should be of a higher standard than those at home, for guests to be satisfied with them. This relationship was robust across all hotel types, and both leisure and business visitation” (Beldona, Schwartz, & Zhang, 2018, p. 2327). In other words, regardless of business and leisure hotel types, the hospitality businesses need to factor in the fact that such technologies need to be in match with surrounding areas, which emphasizes the importance of location-based elements. Hotels need to be clearly superior in comparison with the surrounding areas in order to make the guest room technologies stand out. Therefore, the key consideration should be made for addressing the need for ensuring that such technologies make the guest experience superb rather than equalizer with the in-home infrastructure.

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Economy versus Luxury Hotels

It is important to note that hotel guest room technologies are primarily integrated in order to improve the guest room experience, which can have a differential impact among economy or luxury hotels. It is stated that “satisfaction with guest technologies has a relatively stronger impact on customer satisfaction in mid-scale and economy hotels compared to that in upscale and luxury hotels” (Beldona et al., 2018, p. 2327). In other words, the overall satisfaction of the clientele is deeply rooted in the fact that it is more appealing for the economy and mid-range hotels, whereas it is either mandatory or unnecessary for luxury ones. Thus, such dynamics are indicative of hotels being incentivized to integrate effective hotel guest room technologies in economy variants in comparison with luxury service providers. One should note that these factors need to be considered in accordance with the essentiality of particular technological improvement since some of these innovative solutions can fall in the category of being essential or a mere improvement.

Technical innovations such as the installation of a single connector panel for a variety of audio and video devices should be introduced in every hotel room as a matter of priority. It is convenient to use and will allow the guest to connect their equipment. The interactive television system is one of the most popular innovations, and today, it can be used by many hotels. The installation of this system is expensive but well worth the price. Today, hotels are trying to compete and demonstrate their advantages, which, of course, leads to the creation of several high-tech innovations necessary to demonstrate market leadership. They make life more varied, interesting, and easy, maximize time and effort, and generate additional income. Innovative solutions play an important role in business development and have a special place in the hospitality industry. Most hotels today are automated because the benefits of using these systems are obvious not only to people in the hospitality industry but also to customers. There are many ways for hotel guests, not just discounts and special offers. Innovative solutions are decisive factors in the choice for modern guests.

The given analysis of existing hotel technologies revealed the presence of technological gaps such as technological and automated technological focus, the need for technological changes in the direction of integrated automation, and the need to introduce technological innovations by developing a technological standard for various accommodation facilities. Technology transfer is driven by physical, legal, and human components. The greatest influence on the introduction of technology is exerted by the human factor – the psychology of perception and the level of qualifications of personnel. The legal component determines the creation of social and technological standards for the implementation of modern hotel technologies. The material component is determined by the technical equipment, type, and comfort of housing. By analyzing the high-tech innovations in hotel automation, a specific base can be identified, becoming the last word of the team and fostering competition.

Cybersecurity

With an active shift of the hospitality industry and hotels towards more advanced and innovative guest room technologies, there are clear concerns in regards to cybersecurity risks. A study states that “the techniques currently utilized by hotels to prevent cyber-attacks are mostly rudimentary and outdated” (Shabani & Munir, 2020, p. 482). In other words, the given research and evidence are indicative of the fact that hotels are highly focused on remaining competitive and innovative without a direct emphasis on increasing cybersecurity. The current technologies and newly emerging ones allow hotels to gather a vast pool of data about the travelers, which can be used to further improve guest experience factors by taking into consideration their behaviors and monitoring the points of interest. However, such a measure also raises concerns for ensuring the safety and security of the collected data on guests because the information can be utilized for malicious reasons. Based on the presented evidence, one can clearly see that hotels are not equipped well enough to combat cybersecurity threats, which can lead to disastrous consequences for both guests and hotels.

It is important to note that there is a wide range of potential cybersecurity threats aimed at the hospitality industry. These might include customer data and identity theft, DarkHotel hacking, point of sale and payment card attacks, DDoS, ransomware, and phishing attacks (Social Tables, n.d.). In the case of the former, the focal point is sensitive customer data, which can be stolen through various channels of the hotel network. Such a threat is a major security risk for both hoteliers and guests since hotels will be hit with a major reputation loss, and customers will have their personal information leaked into the hands of hackers. DarkHotel hacking is a newly emerging and more dangerous form of cyberattack, which utilizes hotel Wi-Fi to convince travelers to download malware to collect sensitive data on guests. In regards to the point of sale and payment card attacks, the main targets include third-party vendors, where customers experience heavy financial losses, which, in turn, damages hotels, businesses, and guests.

It is important to understand that in the current conditions, Wi-Fi should be in every hotel room. For many guests, and especially for business people, wireless Internet with the ability to connect to laptops is now a full-fledged service in the hotel. The biggest challenge is always providing customers with high-quality, fast, and reliable Internet access that they use at home. As a result, the hotel’s wireless Internet service providers give hotels the ability to control settings for access speed, traffic volume, or prepaid time. The hotel can reduce its energy consumption by about a third due to its energy management system. The central computer controls and changes the temperature in each hotel room. By controlling the climate in the device, if one reduces costs and help change the environment for the better. A modern hotel is very specific in its work, as it includes a lobby, bar, restaurant, unique fitness rooms, and trade conferences, and all rooms should have a different diet. Having a system that can automatically control the emission of light, change the temperature in the room or activate the air conditioner is an undeniable advantage for the hotel owner.

RFID door lock that allows guests to enter their rooms and other hotel rooms without a key. This innovative mechanism is becoming more and more popular in hotels across the globe since there is no direct requirement for the utilization of standard key to open and access the guest room of a hotel. To access the room, the client can use a mobile phone of any brand and not waste time looking for a lost key. Robotics has not bypassed the hotel industry and is already beginning to introduce its innovations into the daily life of guests, accustoming them to the future.

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Moreover, DDoS or distributed denial of service attacks aims to hijack the key hotel infrastructure, such as security cameras or sprinkler systems. Hackers are able to remotely control these devices and also collect data from them, which can be used for malicious intents. Similarly, ransomware primarily disables or fails the key control systems on which the hotel operates, and thus, the businesses are forced to pay ransoms in order to regain control of these essential elements. Phishing attacks are the oldest and common form of cybersecurity attacks, where emails are used to convince or deceive recipients into conducting authorizations or verifications. All these cybersecurity threats can easily manifest in hotel guest room technologies due to the latter becoming more sophisticated and integrated with the main network control systems of hotels. The combination of technological interconnectedness and rudimentary cybersecurity in most hotels creates a dire situation, where such attacks can become more frequent and widespread to a point where the entire hospitality industry can be put at risk of collapsing.

The development and adoption of decisions in the hotel sector is accompanied by the use of techniques that take into account the conditions of uncertainty in the business and the degree of risk. The latter can be significantly reduced by having reliable, sufficient, real and timely information. Market participants expect increased competition, the emergence of enterprises with foreign capital, which will lead to the need to improve service and quality of services in the struggle for a guest, expand the range of services offered, and search for new competitive advantages.

A step towards breaking the personalization and security of the guest is the biometric system. It is important to understand that travelers overwhelmingly want simple and hassle-free check-in. It can be assumed that in the future, direct access to the guest’s room will become the main one, and the check-in queues will become a distant memory. Face recognition can greatly assist in identifying guests, while fingerprint scanning will ensure secure access to amenities and rooms. Digital technologies will drive the adoption of biometric data in hotels. An additional factor is the growing acceptance of biometrics by guests. The goal of widespread acceptance of biometrics is to convince the public of the safety of confidential information. The virtual reality system provides training for staff on the processes of their daily work. Projects pay off by saving mentors’ time, saving on business coaches, and the need to use real equipment. With the help of virtual reality technology, company employees can visit different departments of the company and complete tasks that they have never completed before. This experience can allow them to better understand their new job and not be afraid of difficulties in real life.

Conclusion

In conclusion, hotel guest hospitality technologies are becoming essential rather than an accessory. The research clearly shows that guest experience and satisfaction can be greatly boosted with the use of these innovative solutions, such as replacing plastic card keys with mobile alternatives. However, it is important to factor in intricate elements and drivers of dynamics between guest room technologies and guest experience. These factors can involve key differences between business and leisure hotels, guest demographics, home-related traveler expectations, and economy and luxury hotels. In addition, the research evidently shows that hotels lack the proper degree of cybersecurity from a wide range of cyberattacks, which can manifest from phishing attacks to DarkHotel hackings. The combination of the stated factors can result in a trend, where hotels are faced with more losses associated with cybersecurity risks than operational inefficiencies.

References

Beldona, S., Schwartz, Z., & Zhang, X. (2018). Evaluating hotel guest technologies: Does home matter? International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 30(5), 2327–2342. doi:10.1108/ijchm-03-2017-0148

Bilgihan, A., Smith, S., Ricci, P., & Bujisic, M. (2016). Hotel guest preferences of in-room technology amenities. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology, 7(2), 118–134. doi:10.1108/jhtt-02-2016-0008

Erdem, M., Atadil, H. A., & Nasoz, P. (2019). Leveraging guest-room technology: A tale of two guest profiles. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology, 10(3), 255–268. doi:10.1108/jhtt-06-2018-0046

Shabani N., & Munir A. (2020). A review of cyber security issues in hospitality industry. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, 1230, 482-493.

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Social Tables. (n.d.). Cybersecurity for hotels: 6 threats just around the corner from your property. 

Torres, A. M. (n.d.). Using a smartphone application as a digital key for hotel guest room and its other app features. Department of Tourism Management, 1, 1-7. Web.

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