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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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.