The hospitality and travel industries are a competitive places to do business. In order to continue attracting people to your website and converting them into paying guests, you have to do what you can to differentiate from other similar resorts in your area. To stand out from the crowd, you have to work hard to understand and meet the ever-evolving needs and expectations of your guests. You have to educate yourself on industry trends, and you have to decide if you want to embrace and invest in the trends you read about.
One trend that has slowly crept into the hospitality and travel industries is the incorporation and use of smart home technology, or home automation, in guest rooms.
In the past decade, smart home automation has exploded in popularity among homeowners. As more people have added smart home software to their homes, they’ve become accustomed to the convenience that the technology offers. As a result, more travelers now desire and expect access to the same level of convenience when they stay at a hotel or resort that they get when they’re living at home.
If you’ve been thinking about adding smart home technology to your resort or lodge, but you’re not exactly sure where to start, consider these five ideas:
The most commonly used type of smart home automation and technology being used by both homeowners and resort owners is the smart thermostat. The smart thermostat is an example of an Internet of things (IoT) device, or a device that can be operated remotely by connecting to WiFi. IoT devices can be accessed and managed without cables and without needing to be in a certain proximity to the device or even in the same location.
By adding smart thermostats to your rooms, you can give guests the opportunity to regulate room temperature from anywhere using their mobile devices. With access to a smart thermostat, guests can raise or lower the room temperature depending on how they are feeling while in the room, or in anticipation of returning to the room after a day of activity.
Here are some popular thermostat options you could install in your rooms:
1. Nest Thermostat – The Nest sells for $249. It comes in stainless steel, black, white, or copper. The nest can auto-schedule room temperatures based on preferences, turn itself down when it recognizes no one is in the room, and give you metrics on energy usage over time. The Nest can also connect to the Amazon Echo device (more on that later). The Nest can be managed from a smartphone or tablet.
2. Honeywell Lyric – The Lyric sells for $149.99. It comes in black. The Lyric knows automatically when you are coming home and can adjust temperatures accordingly. It also syncs with Apple® HomeKit™ and Amazon Echo. The Lyric can be managed from a smartphone or tablet.
3. Ecobee3 – The Ecobee3 sells for $199. It comes in black. The Ecobee3 uses room sensors to help regulate temperatures. It also connects with accessories like humidifiers, dehumidifiers and ventilators. The Ecobee3 can be managed from a smartphone or tablet.
Once you have your smart thermostats installed, encourage guests to help you save energy and be more environmentally-friendly. You can do this by asking them to use the smart technology to proactively regulate room temperature while they are away from their rooms.
2. Voice-Activated Assistant
Another common home automation technology device you can incorporate into your rooms is the voice-activated assistant. The voice-activated assistant is a physical hub that users can verbally interact with and give commands to. These devices can be used to play music, answer questions, give weather reports, connect users to e-commerce channels, offer cooking instructions, and control other smart home automation software.
By adding these types of devices to your rooms, you can offer guests an extra amenity that helps differentiate your property from other local competitors.
There are two leading products in this category to choose from:
1. Amazon Echo – The Echo sells for $179.99. It comes in white or black. The Echo allows users to play music from popular apps like Spotify, Pandora, and Amazon Music. It also offers 360º omni-directional audio. As mentioned above, you can use the Echo to play music, check sports scores, ask questions, get weather reports, listen to audiobooks, and hear information about local businesses. You can also use it to control your other smart-enabled devices, such as lights, thermostat, locks, etc.
2. Google Home – The Google Home sells for $129. It comes in white, but you can use a variety of different colors as your base. The Home also allows users to play music from popular providers like Spotify, Google Play Music, and others. You can also use it to set reminders, give Netflix commands, and control the other smart devices in your room.
To really go the extra mile with this one, consider setting up complimentary Spotify and Audible accounts for each of your rooms and connect them to your Amazon Echo or Google Home device. This will allow guests to listen to music without having to hear advertisements, and will give them the chance to read from a library of books you’ve purchased over time.
3. Lights / Locks / Shades
You can also use smart home technology and automation to change how your guests manage the lighting, door locks, and shades in your rooms. Remember: the goal with incorporating smart home technology into rooms is to make everything easier and more convenient for your guests. Here are a few ways to do it:
1. Add Smart Lighting. Allow guests to control lighting from their smartphones. There are a number of products that offer this functionality to users. Here are a few recommendations:
- Philips Hue – allows you to incorporate bulbs with different types of hues and colors into your rooms.
- SmartThings – allows you to connect motion sensors to connected lights. Also allows you to turn on lamps using a voice-activated assistant like Alexa.
- Belkin Wemo Light Switch – allows you to control your lights from anywhere using a smartphone or tablet. Also pairs with other smart home devices like Alexa and Nest.
2. Install Smart Locks. Give guests access to lodges and rooms using their smartphones. This essentially eliminates the need for them to remember to carry around a set of keys or a room card from you. Here are some recommendations:
- Kevo from Kwikset – allows your guests to enter using their smartphones. You can also give temporary eKeys to guests.
- August Smart Lock – allows you to create virtual keys for guests, and keep track of who comes and goes while they have access.
- Schlage Sense – allows your guests to enter via bluetooth-enablement. Also allows your guests to unlock using Siri.
3. Use Smart Shades & Blinds. Allow guests to control blinds from their mobile devices. Eliminate the need for them to get out of bed to open or close the blinds. Here are some products you can look into if you want to incorporate this type of technology into your rooms:
- MySmartBlinds – Create highly customized blinds that fit the needs of your room or rooms.
- Serena – Remote-controlled, battery-powered shades. These shades are also highly customizable to meet your specific design needs.
- Neo Smart Blinds – Allows you to customize your own app and controller for guests to access and use when they want to raise or lower the blinds.
These may seem like big changes to make, but convenience and ease-of-use go a long way with travelers. Making updates like these may require significant investments in time and money, but in the end, it could be all your guests need in order to walk away with a happy experience that they’re willing to tell their friends and family members about.
4. Charging Stations
To delight guests even more using smart home technology, take a page out of the book that airports and airlines have been using lately: offer convenient charging stations and charging equipment to travelers who need to power-up their devices.
Set up a specific charging station in your guest rooms, or incorporate more USB charging ports in areas where you know people typically like to charge their phones—on the tables next to the bed, in the bathroom, near the lamp on the desk. You can even incorporate wireless charging technology into the furniture you put in your rooms.
Here are some recommended products you can look into if you’re interested in implementing this tip at your resort:
- SnapPower Outlet Charger: Update your outlets to include USB ports that guests can use to plug in their devices.
- Wireless Charging Pad from Samsung: Allow your guests to charge their compatible phone without the need to plug your device into a wall charger or USB port.
- Charging Station from Pottery Barn: Find a retailer that sells a charging dock and organizer that fits into the decor of your room. Look for one that offers both USB and wireless charging options.
There’s nothing worse than forgetting your charger when you’re traveling. Be the hero who saved the day. Your guests will remember it and brag about you to their friends, family members, and social media followers.
5. Smart Kitchen
If you have personal kitchens that guests can use while staying in their room or lodge, consider updating them to include smart kitchen technology. For example, your kitchens could include:
- Anova Culinary Precision Cooker – Make it easy for your guests to prepare and cook a meal without having to stand over the grill or stove. This Precision Cooker is WiFi and bluetooth enabled, allowing users to check and manage what’s cooking from afar.
- Crock-Pot Smart Slow Cooker with WeMo – Another WiFi-enabled tool that makes it easy for guests to prepare a meal, head out and explore, and come back with dinner ready to be served.
- Samsung Smart Refrigerator – Connect with family members and manage grocery lists with this unique, WiFi-connected refrigerator. This appliance also takes pictures of what is inside after you close the door, so you never have to remember what you’re running out of when you’re out and about.
- Smart Lighting – Don’t forget that you can also install smart light bulbs in your kitchen. Guests can use these bulbs to set the right mood during a meal.
When you’re trying to create an amazing, unforgettable experience for your guests, every detail matters. The more often you can delight and surprise your guests, the more likely they will be to write a raving review about their stay, recommend your resort to their friends, and even book a reservation with you again.
Over to You
What smart technology have you already incorporated into your property? How have guests responded? Tell me in the comments below.
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