We are now living in a society obsessed and reliant on its gadgets and being connected.
What does it mean to the provision of in-room technology in accommodation businesses?
Guests are arriving at your property armed with their gadgets, including smart phones, PCs, iPads, portable gaming consoles, cameras and more. These devices have become their own entertainment providers. Essentially guests are now bringing their own entertainment with them.
The habits and expectations of guests have changed. Take a quick look around you where ever you go, the attachment we have to our devices is plain to see. This attachment does not end when guests enter your rooms. With homes boasting state-of-the-art entertainment and Wi-Fi systems, there is an expectation that hotels and resorts should meet this standard of connectivity.
Investing in the right technology can be the difference between guest satisfaction and guest annoyance. We have conducted our own research and read and analysed research from many others to come up with what we believe are the six key elements on your guest's wish list.
Above all other technology is the need for fast reliable Internet. It is as simple as that and it is not negotiable. A wired connection has been the preferred option but Wi-Fi is now catching up and fast becoming a required minimum standard. This need is being driven by devices such as the iPads that don't have an ethernet port.
The second requirement is adequate and accessible transformer friendly power outlets. All the gadgets guests are bringing to your property are creating a greater need for power points. Make them plentiful, make them transformer friendly and please do not make your guests crawl under the desk to find them. A well thought out plan would include power points placed at desk height near the desk, the TV and by the bed. We suggest a minimum of two power points dedicated for the guest at each location.
The third requirement is a functional work area. The desk is no longer a 'writing desk' it needs to cater for the working traveller. They need a desk with good lighting a comfortable chair and as we said above ample power points. I would encourage every accommodation provider to sit and work for at least a couple of hours at a desk in one of their rooms to ensure that they are providing a comfortable work environment for their guests.
The fourth requirement is a flat panel HD TV that should swivel so it's visible from the desk and bed. Most guests will watch the TV at some point and the TV has a large impact on the overall look and feel of the room. How big should the TV be? We will never be able to compete with the size of the TVs that many guests now have in their lounge room or dedicated home theatre but we need to make sure it is adequate for the room. From our research a 94cm to 100cm TV is currently considered the best size for a hotel room.
The fifth requirement of your guest is the ability to connect their own devices to the in-room TV. With guests bringing their own gadgets the job of in room technology has changed. It's now about allowing guests to integrate or connect their devices. They have spent time and money loading their 'life' onto their devices and they know how they work. Guests want the ability to play their own movies, music or games as they would at home.
They may want to connect a device they bring, such as a portable play station or an iPad to your TV. Make sure it is possible for them to do that. Ideally your TV will have the following ports accessible to the guest; VGA for laptops, HDMI for MacBooks, new notebooks and cameras, audio for laptops and iPods and RCA (white, red and yellow). Contrary to what many believe there are still a lot of devices out there including iPods, iPads and portable gaming consoles that connect to a TV via RCA.
The sixth and final requirement is iPod/iPhone and now on the radar iPad docking.
With the growing number of iPhones (Apple now has just under one in three on the mobile phone market in Australia; an iPod/iPhone/iPad Dock that incorporates a clock radio is a great addition to any room and will be well received by guests.
Giving your guest technology is important but make sure you keep it simple. Consider the amount of time a guest has between eating, sleeping, catching up on email, connecting with family or relaxing with their music or movies. How much of this precious time are they going to want to spend trying to figure how to make the technology work? Less than a couple of minutes, I would think. So when looking at things such as iPod docking stations, make sure that they are simple to use and that includes setting the alarm.
These days the separation between work and personal time has become very blurred and we often do a combination of both at the same time, particularly when we travel. So whether your guests are business or leisure travellers, your rooms need to cater for this need. Guests want to work as they do in the office but at the same time be entertained as they are when at home.
In summary, guests want fast reliable Internet, a functional work area, connectivity for their devices and the ability to use and charge theses devices easily in their room. Getting these basics right will help ensure your guests remain satisfied and loyal.