Hospitality Gets Smart

September 28, 2022 4 Minute Read

By James Effingham

Business woman with an tablet

The hotel sector is embracing new technologies to improve customer experience. But the sheer versatility of digital technology means that many choices are open to owners and operators. The first challenge, therefore, is to determine where these tools can have the most useful impact. That means looking at three distinct areas: guest experience, building operation and data analytics. 

The primary goals for guests must be to improve the quality of the stay or streamline the experience. That could involve automated booking systems, customisable room preferences with contactless check-in, room access through a personal device, and automated billing. Guest interactions during a stay could be through AI-based concierge services, app-driven food and beverage reservations or room service ordering. The benefit to owners and operators will be reducing multiple support personnel requirements, releasing front of house staff to focus on guest interactions.

There is an important balance to be achieved here; the degree of automation that replaces human interaction should fit well with the hotel’s brand, ethos and aspirations, and alternative options that accommodate the different needs and preferences of guests should always be available.

For day to day building operation, digital enablement can have a significant impact on costs and efficiency. For example, smart BMS systems or a ’digital twin’ allows multiple data sources to be converged, analysed and managed. Systems like this collect data from sensors measuring temperature, water use and air quality, and use it to control mechanical plant and equipment. For example, it’s able to match air-conditioning performance or hot water provision very closely to actual demand. Occupancy and movement sensors can inform demand-led cleaning routines to optimise cleaning rotas. Building data can also be used to make informed adjustments of planned maintenance cycles and limit the potential of failures occurring. Tools like these help drive operational cost efficiency, reliability and optimise energy use.

Lastly, digital enablement allows for the production, collection and analysis of data; this could be about guest behaviours, expenditure patterns and preferences, or the nature, use and performance of the hotel building itself. Data underpins informed insights and decisions on matters such as where and how to focus marketing of guest offers, adjusting staffing levels, balancing air-conditioning levels against occupation or planned maintenance and capital expenditure needs.

To implement any of these changes, a clear digital strategy will always be needed, one that fully supports the business plan for an individual hotel asset or a portfolio.

As a guest, you might find the hotel app on your phone giving you a rating for your stay, awarding loyalty points for reducing air-conditioning, re-using towels, or selecting plant-based menu options. Your relationship with your hotel is going to get personal. 

Within its broad capabilities, CBRE Project Management & Building Consultancy can support owners and operators in defining digital goals and developing a strategy through to implementation. Get in touch to learn more.

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