Bringing the latest connective technology to hotel rooms.
When we hear talk of the Internet of Things (IoT), it often has to do with smart phones and homes or self-driving cars. But it’s also at the forefront of the hospitality industry with the backdrop of travel exploding as the baby boom generation starts to retire, experience-seeking millennials come of age, and the middle class explodes in countries like China.
Travelers have never been more demanding or technically sophisticated. They rightfully want personalized, immersive experiences and superior customer service. And that means not just being technically connected while traveling, but feeling authentically connected to places they visit.
The key challenges: How do you bring the latest technology into hotels and get it to work with countless different devices for millions of different guests in countries around the world? And how do you present these “things” in a seamless, intuitive fashion?
It almost makes building a thinner smart phone seem like a walk in the park.
The first step is to realize we don’t have the answers to all these questions. Our guests do. In our business, algorithms aren’t enough, nor are focus groups. We need to see how our products and services work, and how associates and guests interact with, and react to, them in the real world.
It’s easy to assume the hospitality industry is somewhat staid or behind the curve in rolling out next-gen devices. But, in crafting the overall guest experience, we look at it far more holistically by reimagining the travel experience and innovating at every level in all areas of the business – from optimizing our digital platform (one of the largest in the world), to refining our supply chains involving thousands of partners, and from integrating massive booking and loyalty platforms to producing imaginative content and inspired food and beverages.
For example, the IoT Guestroom Lab at Marriott’s International headquarters is aimed at accelerating the creation of increasingly customizable rooms using Internet protocols and mobile and voice technology.
In our industry, where it gets really interesting and nuanced is making sure high-tech is also high-touch. The most renowned engineers will tell you hard technology is easy, but easy technology is hard.
With the advent of the Internet of Things, the hospitality industry now has a unique opportunity to create truly customizable, personalized experiences on a mass scale.
But, we don’t just need an intuitive IoT platform, we need it to be hospitable.