I attended the 2012 Hotel Technology Forum, (hosted by Hospitality Technology Magazine), and came away with some great insights from the gathering of industry leaders. They had record attendance this year and the chatter among the attendees was very positive. Though all the sessions were great, I thought the last panel discussion of the event, Tackling the Guestroom’s Biggest Challenges, was particularly insightful. The panel, led by Scot Campbell, CIO from Pinnacle Entertainment, included Kris Singleton, CIO at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, Randy Dearborn, Vice President, Multimedia & Guest Technology at MGM Resorts, and Monika Nerger, CIO at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. The panel of industry veterans and visionaries covered a host of interesting topics and what follows is a summary of my favorites.
Bandwidth, Bandwidth, Bandwidth
With the proliferation of WI-FI enabled devices being used on premise by hotel guests, much of the discussion focused around the growing need for bandwidth. Based on the panel research, the average guest is traveling with 2.5 WI-FI enabled devices (mobile phone, tablet and laptop computer). Randy Dearborn commented, “Wi-Fi has become valet parking…you have to have it.” Wi-Fi accessibility ranks high on guest expectation surveys and routinely ranks high on guest complaint records. Because of this, seamless Wi-Fi accessibility and increasing on-premise bandwidth are at the top of the work list for hospitality CIOs.
802.11u…and You and You
While the 802.11u regulations forthcoming on Wi-Fi accessibility did not rate a high concern among the attendees (based on a show of hands), Scot Campbell noted that this subject would likely be at the top of next year’s discussion list. 802.11u, also known as Hotspot 2.0 or Passpoint, is a standard for linking Wi-Fi hotspots to cell networks. Your mobile devices will sense the presence of a Hotspot 2.0 access point and connect to it automatically. The access point will verify the device’s subscription status, most likely using the SIM card present in many phones, and will exchange cryptographic keys so that all traffic between the device and the access point is encrypted (a major weakness in today’s open networks).
I want MyownTV
The panel gave us a look into the future of in-room technology and the future looks bright. The panel agreed that the goal of technologists is to meet the growing guest expectation of duplicating their “at-home” technology in the guest room. While I may love the weather in Las Vegas versus Chicago in December, it would be nice to bring my cable television with me. They portrayed a future where your personal electronic devices (PEDs) would seamlessly interact with in-room hardware to control the experience through voice activation, touch screen and motion. No more messy remotes for all you germaphobes out there (and they are out there, noted one panelist). It appears that as guest expectations rise for technology access, the revenue stream for hotels is diminishing. The panelists saw a future where the revenue stream for HSIA will be replaced by a more intuitive and interactive technology experience that centers around conversion rates based on needs’ anticipation.
CIO – Chief Intuition Officer
The CIO as marketer is here. I have long said that marketing is all about having an intelligent conversation with the consumer to ultimately influence them to buy. How we leverage data to make the user experience more enjoyable is the difference between intuition and intrusion. (Link to intuitive marketing example here) When we talk to people about what they are truly interested in, we build brand loyalty, not erode it. On the contrary, broadcast email to an entire database does not speak to me personally, (minus the auto-populated, first-name field at the top) and tells me you don’t know me. After speaking with both Kris Singleton and Randy Dearborn about this afterwards, I think the data is in the right hands. The CIO as Marketer is a good thing; thoughtful, analytical types who won’t pull the trigger until they are ready and confident about the results.
The Hotel Technology Forum was a great and informative event this year and I was glad to be a part of it. Monika Nerger summed up the panel discussion with a short but accurate statement, “It is going to be an exciting time over the next five years as technology leaders in our industry.” I couldn’t agree more.
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi will be three times faster than your N and available in May (paulspoerry.com)
- Wi-Fi: Getting the Most Out of Your Smartphone (mycricket.com)
- How Wi-Fi Can Save Data-Guzzling Mobile Devices (techopinions.com)