Jason Q. Freed, editor of our US sister publication Hotel & Motel Management, gives the lowdown on the latest offerings seen at hospitality technology tradeshow HITEC, which took place last week in Orlando.
1. Cloud computing. Also known as software as a service or Web-based software, the ability to house servers, data and other infrastructure off-site is becoming increasingly popular with hoteliers. Why invest in clunky hardware and litter the basement with racks of unsightly servers when most of your daily operating applications can be hosted elsewhere and accessed on the Internet?
2. Integration. Over the past few years, hotel technology vendors have recognized that while offering an all-in-one system with myriad features may command the highest price point, it could lead to offering a product that lacks in certain areas. Therefore, creating partnerships with neighboring vendors and integrating with third-party tools has taken priority.
3. Mobile applications. Introducing mobile applications, especially mobile booking solutions, seemed to be the overriding trend at HITEC 2009. Many vendors caught up in 2010 and flaunted flashy e-concierge applications available to the guest. Others are putting control in the hands of the property-level staff, offering applications that let the GM monitor daily data even when off property. But most vendors in 2010 moved away from simply building iPhone apps, recognizing the increasing popularity of the Droid platform. The most forward-thinking vendors have built software-based applications that can be implemented in the form of an iPhone app, iPad app, Droid app, browser-based application or software installed on the PC.
4. iPad applications
. There are rumors floating around that an Indian company called Notion Ink
soon will release a product called Adam that will make the iPad practically irrelevant (it runs on a much more open-sourced Google Android system, has Flash capability, 1080p resolution and an HDMI output). If this turns out to be true, Lord help the 50% of vendors at HITEC who spent countless hours and dollars in 2010 developing sleek iPad apps.
I’ll admit: anything that runs on an iPad looks cool. Forget those clunky little tabletop, bedside LCD screens that control the temperature and drapes; the iPad replaces those. Forget the front desk; have concierge staff greet guests at the door and check them in on an iPad that is capable of upselling, reserving tee times, collecting customer data and cutting keys.
One thing I learned at HITEC is that if you already have an iPhone app, you can’t simply edit the resolution in the source code and spit out an iPad app. It’s got to be redeveloped, and a multitude of hospitality vendors spent the past four months doing just that, adding more features along the way.
5. The “wow” factor. There are always those few products that may not be all that practical, or cost-effective, but are just simply sexy. HITEC 2010 had a handful.
A company called PSAV
has teamed with DirecTV
and was streaming the World Cup live in 3-D through electronic shutter glasses. I wasn’t sold on 3-DTV, but the picture was simply amazing; it literally felt like you were standing on the sidelines.
The Cybertecture Mirror
was on display in Guestroom 20X, offering an interactive mirror that can display the time, temperature, local traffic, news and live television, among other things. Imagine waking up and skimming your Facebook page while brushing your teeth. Wirelessly connected to a scale, users were able to view their current height, weight, body mass index, as well as graphed data on how that health information is trending. Mirrors in hotel rooms can be synched with your mirror at home since data is kept in a cloud, and health information can even be shared with your physician.
Originally published on our US sister publication Hotel & Motel Management