How In-Room Tech Is Changing Everything About Hotel Guest Experience

A hotel was once measured in stars, but today is better judged by Wi-Fi strength and the ease with which room service can be ordered through an app.

Guests expect a seamless tech experience from the moment they walk through a hotel’s doors, mirroring the on-demand reality that exists today for everything from ordering a cab to dinner.

Smartphones are at the center of this evolution with hotels and third-party services quickly developing apps and tools that transform personal devices into portals for the hotel experience.

In this week’s episode of the Skift Podcast, we talk about the future of in-room technology and the evolving guest experience.

Guests for this episodeChris Holdren, senior vice president of Starwood Preferred Guest and Digital, and Justin Effron, CEO of hospitality engagement platform ALICE.

The Skift Podcast is underwritten by FutureCities initiative from MasterCard. Find out more at futurecities.skift.com.

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But with the rapid change of consumer technology, it can be very difficult for any tech initiative to stay relevant for long, leaving hotels in a constant struggle to keep up with consumer demands.

To talk about the future of in-room technology and the evolving guest experience, podcast host Samantha Shankman and Skift co-founder and head of content Jason Clampet speak with Chris Holdren, senior vice president of Starwood Preferred Guest and Digital, and Justin Effron, CEO of hospitality engagement platform ALICE.

Holdren has worked with Starwood for 14 years overseeing many tech initiatives from the group’s first virtual hotel to keyless entry. Effron co-founded Alice almost three years ago and has since grown its client base to 35 hotel groups.

Our conversation largely revolves around guest experience including challenges in tech adoption, how a seamless user experience impacts loyalty, and how hotels keep pace with changes in consumer tech.

One particular insight stood out to us, which is when Effron likens the onboarding process of new hotel technology to Uber. Guests might think picking up the phone to order room service is easier until they experience the service through just a few taps.

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