Soon, you will be able to step into your hotel room and the thermostat will automatically adjust to the temperature you like. Netflix and Hulu accounts on the TV will be programmed to play your favorite shows, and your preferred beer will be chilling in the refrigerator.
“Imagine a world where the room knows you and you know your room,” Hilton HLT, +0.13% chief executive officer Christopher J. Nassetta said this week at Skift Global Forum. Hilton is currently testing a “smart room” connected to a computer system and they will roll out within the next year, Nassetta said. The update is the latest personalized offering from the hotel chain.
The company already offers an app-based messaging service that connects visitors with local activities tailored to their interests using Bluetooth. Marriott has offered guests a similar app since 2014.
More than 20% of hotels plan to integrate smart features like lighting and drapery that suit your mood and, in theory, help you get a good night’s sleep. Like Hilton’s plans for personalized rooms, Starwood’s offerings also include preset TV channels and thermostats.
Hilton isn’t the first to bring personalized automation to hotel rooms. Starwood integrated tablet features into a “smart mirror” in select locations in 2016 and The Peninsula Chicago outfitted all hotel rooms with tablets that allow visitors to personalize many aspects of their stay. Like Hilton’s plans for personalized rooms, Starwood’s offerings also include preset TV channels and thermostats.
Many high tech options in hotel rooms revolve around voice command features, with hotels including Marriott and Wynn Resorts installing digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa in hotel rooms. That, of course, is something Airbnb hosts can offer just as easily.
In fact, this hyper-personalized future is slowly but surely coming to travel’s biggest companies, who are fighting to remain relevant as they face competition from Airbnb and other alternative lodging. More than 20% of hotels plan to integrate smart features like lighting and drapery that suit your mood and, in theory, help you get a good night’s sleep.
Loyalty programs are particularly important at a time when third-party booking sites like PCLN, +1.06% and Expedia EXPE, +0.77% are drawing consumers away from the main hotel websites and giving them a wider range of options.
Alternative lodging options like Airbnb are also cutting into hotel profits. Profits from “compression nights” defined as when hotel occupancy is greater than 95%, have taken a hit. In 2016 they fell 17% year over year for the first time since 2009.
Some hotels are turning to extra charges and fees to recoup some of the losses, according to a recent study from New York University’s Jonathan M. Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism. The industry is projected to see $2.7 billion in surcharges in 2017, up from $2.55 billion in 2016 and $2.45 billion in 2015.
Airbnb hosts don’t need fancy technology: They can simply message their guests and ask they about their likes and dislikes, and leave a refrigerator full of their favorite food or list of art exhibitions, restaurants and shows to suit their needs.
Still, Nassetta said he is not worried about Airbnb, which he says serves a different focus than Hilton, which caters to business travelers on weeknights compared to leisure travelers on weekends. He added that that as the stock market sees record highs, Hilton is also seeing its value grow. “We aren’t trying to be the cheap alternative, we are trying to be the premium alternative,” he said.
In the immediate future, that “premium alternative” includes learning customer preferences and catering rooms to their needs, though it is developing relatively slowly, said Deanna Ting, a hospitality editor at Skift.
Meanwhile competitors like Airbnb are also creating customized experiences for guests. The home sharing app invested $13 million in dining reservation app Resy earlier this year to help consumers really “live there” when they travel and create a more authentic local experience.
Unlike hotels, Airbnb hosts don’t need fancy technology: They can simply message their guests and ask they about their likes and dislikes, and leave a refrigerator full of their favorite food or list of art exhibitions, restaurants and shows to suit their needs.
“All of these brands whether traditionally hotels or other lodging, they all want to own more of that customer experience and get to know you better, so they can make your trip better and make you feel better because of them,” Ting said.