Staying Innovative

Technology in Hotels 1

How cutting-edge technology transforms the guest experience.

By Geoffrey Ryskamp

By 2020, Gartner predicts that the average person will interact more with bots than they will with their own spouse. Cutting-edge technology, such as artificial intelligence-powered chatbots, predictive analytics and virtual reality are infiltrating nearly every industry. Consumers interact with tech on a daily basis at home, and hoteliers are applying the latest technology to enhance the guest experience.

While it may be true that in a little less than two years the average person will communicate more with chatbots than they do with their loved ones, that doesn’t mean all can be solved without human interaction. Sometimes consumers prefer to resolve an issue with a live person; other times they’d rather address a need themselves, without a staff member’s help. Hotels are tasked to strike a balance between the two ends of the spectrum.

Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things (IoT) and virtual reality can optimize nearly every aspect of a guest’s experience. From the moment a guest books their room online to when they step off the property at the end of their stay, an experience can be enhanced – or debilitated – by technology. Here’s how some of the latest technologies are transforming guest experience:

Experience the Ease of IoT

Today, it’s easier to find free Wi-Fi than it is to find an available outlet to charge your phone. Nearly everything these days is connected, and these connections are becoming more relevant due to IoT. IoT takes everyday items, including the watch on your wrist, your refrigerator or even the overhead lights in your office, and connects them to the internet.

Technology in Hotels 2Hoteliers can use IoT to personalize a guest’s stay. By connecting hotel rooms to the internet, a room can ‘get to know’ the individual guest. For example, a connected thermostat can record that the guest turned the temperature down a few degrees before they shut off the lights and went to bed. The next night, the guest does it again. The third night of the guest’s stay, the thermostat knows to automatically turn the temperature down at an appropriate time, personalizing the room and adding convenience for the guest. Global hotels can leverage the scale to their advantage using this kind of technology to differentiate and personalize experience across properties.

Scoping out the Stay with Virtual Reality

Virtual reality (VR) creates a computer-generated environment that can be experienced through sensory stimuli and brings together physical and virtual worlds. Hotels are using VR to amp up their online presence, helping guests make better informed decisions about their stay by providing online tours of the property, its rooms, amenities and even nearby attractions.

VR can help bring a potential guest’s experience to life, and some of the industry’s top brands are implementing VR in their booking services. Just last year, Best Western and Marriott launched VR tours to showcase their properties.

AI: A Modern Concierge

According to PwC, 42 percent of consumers use digital assistants in their day-to-day life. Why should that change with they check into a hotel? Hoteliers today recognize the convenience these digital assistants and their chatbot counterparts provide for their users.

These digital mechanisms use artificial intelligence to think, learn and anticipate human behavior, helping to simplify communication between guests and hotel management. Some of the top hotels are integrating AI into their communication platforms, creating a genuine and personalized experience through a guest’s preferred channel, whether websites, mobile apps or social platforms. With all of these options, the key is offering the convenience of choice, engaging customers to give them a meaningful experience in the digital environment they prefer rather than limiting the interactions and only listening on a specific channel or app. The hotel companies leading the way are those that have an overall strategy to connect the various interactions - both human and digital - to their broader guest experience platform and analyze and measure the success of each.

Geoffrey Ryskamp is the global head of Medallia's hospitality, travel & Lleisure practice. In this role, he leads a team that designs, enhances and deploys enterprise solutions to support CEM objectives of Fortune 500 hospitality companies. Ryskamp has been involved in the hospitality industry for over 15 years. Prior to joining Medallia, Ryskamp served as the director of asset management for Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, was part of the business intelligence group with Choice Hotels International and in the hospitality & leisure advisory practice within the investment management & real estate group of PwC. He has held management and operational roles with Hilton Worldwide, Marriott International, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Carlson Hotels Worldwide, Dolce International and Levy Restaurants. For more information visit


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