Wearable Technology Improves Guest Experience at Hotels

By David Hogan Executive Director of Major Accounts, Heartland Payment Systems | December 20, 2015

Hotels have been at the forefront of offering guests ways to interact with innovative technologies for decades. When the popularity of television was starting to peak, many families did not have their own televisions. However in 1947, The Roosevelt Hilton in New York City became the first hotel in the world to install TVs in guest rooms. Guests were excited to experience the new technology during their stays.

At that time TV was a sought-after amenity – fast forward to now, and many guests don't even turn them on. Technology has come a long way since then and hotel companies are seeking news ways to stay on the cutting edge of the digital movement. Today, wearable technology is looking like the solution for smoother hotel workflows and better guest experiences.

The use of mobile technology is an obvious solution for on-the-go travelers who can't be bound to locations by equipment and wires. Smartphones are one of the most popular mobile devices. A recent study from the Pew Research Center found that 64 percent of American adults now own a smartphone – making them a new normal.
Smartphones contributed to our country's increased technology use and dependency. Technology has become a part of who people are today. Devices and services like mobile phones, tablets and social media have changed the way people interact in their day-to-day lives.

As technology continues to push the envelope, wearables are the next solution for personal and business applications. Aside from basic features like telling time and looking trendy, wearables have many functions that can be used daily to improve their wearers' personal lives. The Apple Watch can sync directly with a user's phone and display messages, answer calls and give GPS directions all from a wrist.

Wearables also encourage fitness and good health. For example, smart sport bands can act as personal trainers. Current models have the ability to monitor stride length, distance, step count, and speed, while calculating calories burned, heart and breathing rates, skin temperature and activity intensity.
Sleep is also vital for a healthy lifestyle. Bands like the Garmin vívosmart can be worn while sleeping to monitor movement and rest.

These tech accessories are poised to mimic the adaption of tablets. Tablet sales started out low then soared in a few short years after businesses and consumers realized the utility and value that tablets provided. According to the 2014 Wearable Future study conducted by PwC, one in five Americans already own a piece of wearable tech and sales in the category are predicted to hit $70 billion by the year 2024.

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.