Supplier spotlight: In-room technology

BHN rounds up the latest in-room technology products keeping guests happy across the boutique and lifestyle hotel sector.

Hotel guests are increasingly comfortable with a higher level of technology in their guest rooms, and in some cases it has now become a given. Much of the advance in in-room tech has come in the arena of delivering content and services to guests via mobile devices and tablets – either their own or those provided by the hotel.

myResidence from Neorcha utilises the power of mobile to give guests more control and choice during their stay. The company says it helps retain guest loyalty and encourage direct bookings and upsells, before, during and after the stay. myResidence provides additional functionality for in-room technology that can be used on a guest’s mobile device (iOS and Android). It integrates with  hospitality systems, and with connections to property management systems (PMS), providing a wider range of functionality from the guest’s mobile device. It can be made available during their stay and limited once they have checked out.

myResidence provides telephone and television integration, room control (lights, heating etc),  logs and tracks guest requirements via their device, allows live chat between guest and hotel manager, offers a future booking facility and displays information on local information and events, airline chedules and more. Xn protel Systems is Neorcha’s strategic partner.

YourWelcome is a smart tablet for properties offering apartments, that enables providers to monetise guests while they are on-property, alongside a range of other value add services to the provider.  The company says it is the most advanced in-room transaction portal on the market, providing a highly optimised sales tool for serviced apartment providers. Within a few minutes providers are able to easily sell services direct to their guests via the tablets.

YourWelcome is a subscription service that offers both hardware (8″ tablet, stand and two-metre charging cable) and software, a secure web portal for managing the content on the tablet and a full data analytics suite for detailed insight into guest usage. The tablets can be fully co-branded and can be set up in minutes. The cost per month, per tablet ranges from £7.99 to £3.99 depending on volume and YourWelcome takes full liability for any damage or theft of the devices.

Specialist media distributor to the hotel and hospitality industry Gold Key Media recently launched its new digital platform “newsstand”. The fully customisable digital media system offers a wide range of international newspapers and magazines, including The FT, The Times, Telegraph, New York Times and Wall St Journal.

Publications can be accessed with a click of a button and downloaded in seconds, appearing on guests’ devices exactly as they look in print, with high definition images and double page spreads. Guests are able to filter the wide selection of titles by language as well as by genre, and can search within a publication for articles on a particular topic, person or interest. The magazines and newspapers can be easily downloaded and retained to the guest’s device, for reading whilst travelling too.

Each hotel is given its own unique identity that allows them to promote other areas of their property such as spas, restaurants, and sister properties. These promotional pods link directly to the site being promoted. Venues can also upload their promotional offerings or menus to the platform. Hotels are also given a tailored report highlighting which publications are being read and which titles are the most popular.

Chris Horn, managing director of Gold Key Media says: “We pride ourselves on the fantastic publications we’re able to offer. What sets us apart from other platforms on the market is the quality of the content provided, we have focussed very much on securing quality publications for the platform rather than vast quantities of irrelevant titles. Additionally, allowing hotels to design and personalise their media platform that promotes their own offering to guests is a very popular USP that has already helped us to secure global hotel brands such as Claridges, Berkeley, Connaught, Dorchester Collection, Jumeirah Carlton Tower and Lowndes, The Rosewood, Intercontinental 02, Hong Kong Club, Oxford & Cambridge Club etc.”

The appliance of state of the art technology is also evident in areas that might not be immediately obvious.

Luxury safe manufacturer Arcarius says: “The essential elements we find in a hotel room have been redefined by the luxury industry. Think of the coffee maker, the sound system, the television and the shower. Today, nothing less that the latest generation and most prestigious brand names will suffice in order to seduce a traveller whose concept of luxury is finely tuned to modern design aesthetics and cutting edge technology. Arcarius expresses this zeitgeist in what has until now been an object overlooked by industrial designers and hotel managers – the hotel safe.”

Arcarius safes incorporate Italian design, German engineering, fine craftsmanship and “the most advanced security systems available”. Incorporating biometric identification, the user is in constant real time communication with their safe, via a high-security app on their smart phone. Messages are sent in their own language, and are continuously monitored by reception staff.

Cristian Perdomo, CEO of Arcarius, says: “Drawing on a lifetime’s experience in the safe manufacturing sector, he decided to embrace the need for a luxurious in-room safes in the hospitality industry. I belong to the second generation of a family dedicated to the security industry, starting with the old bank columns, then keys safes, then later electronic safes. A passion for innovation in security forms part of my DNA, as well as my love for art and design and an enormous interest in advances in technology. When I was young I used to go with my father to visit customers and repair hotel safes. I loved playing with old knobs, turning them right and left, listening for the click and then turning the handle, waiting to see the ‘treasure’ inside. I also love visiting museums, and art and design fairs like Art Basel, Salone de Mobile and technology events like CeBit. All these passions and interests meet in Arcarius, a project that has absorbed me for the past decade.”

Italian design also features in Allegion’s CISA eGO and eSIGNO locks. The contactless locks are specified with near-field communications technology, making them user-friendly for guests, who simply have to hold the keycard to the lock to gain access to approved rooms. The locks are also powered by off-the-shelf batteries and do not require wiring, making them easy to fit for first time installations and for retrofitting.

“Gaining customer loyalty in hospitality requires attention to even the smallest detail,” says  Trevor Ball, area sales manager for hospitality and electronic access control at Allegion. “We know that what guests want after travelling long distances is a smooth check-in process, and contactless functionality makes a real difference between frustration and delight.”

While both locks stem from the same family, the eSIGNO offers the additional benefit of being able to be tied to an online system. This offers hotel operations staff greater usability and security benefits. The system means staff can remotely manage cards, monitor any unusual events or be warned of card and battery expiry. It also allows users to see a door’s status, e.g. if the door is open, in privacy mode, in operation or how many attempts there have been made to open the door.

“While guests’ convenience is a high priority, the locks have also been developed to give better control over security for hoteliers. With room security making headlines recently, it was crucial that we developed our locks to be as sophisticated as possible in terms of security, while also being easy to use for staff,” adds Ball.

A great example of a boutique hotel incorporating the latest technology in its rooms is K West, at Shepherd’s Bush, west London. The hotel is constantly updating its technological offerings to ensure it’s one of the most high-tech hotels in the capital. To satisfy guests constantly developing digital demands, the hotel has introduced two devices.

Handy Phones provide guests with free local telephone calls, free unlimited mobile internet, as well as free access to a digital city guide. Guests can also benefit from free IDD calls to France, Germany, Netherlands, USA, Australia and Hong Kong. Furthermore, the phones allow guests to stay connected to social media throughout their stay, allowing them to post updates and keep in contact with family and friends. 

K West also supplies Crave In-Room Tablets,which act as a helpful directory as they contain concise information on the facilities within the hotel. With the press of a button, spa treatments can be requested; the dedicated spa team will then contact the guest to recommend the most suitable treatments.  In addition, guests can browse the internet, as well as order in-room dining directly from their room.  The tablets are also able to inform guests of special time-limited deals and send individual messages for a personalised stay.

As well as in-room devices, the hotel offers three meeting spaces of varying capacities, plus The Library, which all feature high-tech capabilities. For example, the Empire Room and Apollo Room both feature a state-of-the-art SmartKapp smart board which allows notes drawn on the board to be automatically saved down onto your phone or iPad as a PDF.

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