Technology is allowing hotel guests to interact with their surroundings like never before - Tom Sime

Scotland’s hospitality sector had a particularly rough time during the pandemic but recently, I’ve spotted many announcements of new hotels, from Gleneagles unveiling its opulent Townhouse in Edinburgh to news of the Hyatt Hotels Corporation signing a franchise agreement with the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.

Tom Sime, CEO of Exchange Communications
Tom Sime, CEO of Exchange Communications

Hopefully, it’s a positive sign that the sector is on the road to recovery. Indeed, booking a holiday was top of the list for many as we returned to normality. But the last few years has accelerated the need for hospitality venues to be driven more by tech.

For many years now, Exchange has been a driving force across the UK, installing and overlaying IoT and installing smart buildings systems to some of the country’s most iconic locations including key travel hubs, arenas, shopping centres and hospitals as well as five-star hotels; but creating the infrastructure for such vital technology should now be considered an essential building block of a hotel’s fabric and infrastructure.

In direct response to the tech driven shift in consumer buying habits, we have connected some of the country’s top hotels including The Londoner on Leicester Square and The Fairmont in Windsor, to allow them to utilise technology that allows their guests to interact with their surroundings like never before.

Now is the time for Scottish hoteliers to enjoy the same benefits and consider smart building technology from the design stage and all the benefits it can deliver, including sustainability improvements, optimised energy usage, security, hygiene levels, air quality and overall connectivity.

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I was really interested to read the findings of a global think tank which unveiled its concepts of hotel technologies of the future and discussed the fact that guest expectations are rapidly changing how hotels operate, including how they serve and protect guests, replace, and supplement human service with technology, act sustainably, and function more flexibly.

The Hotel of Tomorrow Project, comprised hospitality leaders from across the globe including representatives from Hilton, IHG and Marriott hotels. The project resulted in a number of concepts that travellers may one day encounter.

They included the Robotic Reset, hotel rooms that integrate automated, retractable, and revealable furnishings, as well as robot-delivered elements to suit changing guest needs, and the Sense and Satisfy Suite, a suite that anticipates each occupants needs through bio sensors throughout the room which monitor a guest’s wellness, interaction and communicate via voice and holography.

These examples may seem very futuristic and whatever your thoughts are about what features you would want to see in your hotel room, it’s clear that smart technology will be at the heart of helping the hospitality sector to adapt and grow into the future and bringing these concepts to life.

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We’re already seeing some hotels lead the way with digitally controlled room functions and spa and restaurant bookings and this report provides some insight into how it could be developed further.

Of course – the infrastructure for this sort of technology can be fitted retrospectively and in many cases that’s what we are doing – however the benefits of ensuring the future and easy evolution of all new hotel projects makes much more sense.

The demand for hotels that are built smartly with the capabilities for evolution is high and should be considered an essential part of every hotelier’s brief to ensure the ability for spaces to keep up with changing technology and guest expectations.

It’s not just the hotel sector that can benefit from thinking smart from the get-go, whether it’s office developments, shopping centres or residential developments, smart buildings and IoT is driving the future expectations of our buildings.

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Tom Sime, CEO of Exchange Communications

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