Evolving Trends: Technology Innovation is Changing the Way We Stay


Since beginning a career in hospitality several decades ago, I’ve been amazed by the rapid pace of technological innovation in the industry. Over the years, one enduring trend has been that of integrating disparate hotel systems in order to offer enhanced efficiency, as well as convenience, comfort and safety for hotel guests.

As properties become more unified across their range of operational systems and departments, new product offerings or services increasingly need to be linked with multiple platforms. In reflecting on several technological milestones, it is apparent that this evolution of operations is leading hotels to safer, more efficient operations and improved guest comfort and convenience.

The emergence of RFID

Since its inception, RFID technology has had an immensely positive impact on hospitality, with more and more hotels worldwide adopting its use in various operations, including locking systems. With RFID, hotels gain an advanced platform that, instead of relying on magstripe keycards, uses small microchips to transmit data. This not only circumvents any possibility of accidental keycard deactivation, but also provides a higher level of security and a platform that can evolve as technology advances. 

Along with the increased security provided by RFID locks, both manufacturers and properties are discovering many more advantages and conveniences that an RFID system offers. For instance, RFID technology enables the use of loyalty cards as a credential that can open the guestroom door lock. Also, RFID technology is at the heart of a “direct to room” function. This trend is expected to grow rapidly with the widespread usage of smartphones and mobile devices among the global population.

The rise of mobile & its impact on hospitality

Most of today’s smart devices feature Near Field Communication (NFC) and/or Bluetooth capabilities. Within the hospitality market, those using these technologies in conjunction with an existing RFID locking system have produced subsequent improvements in both operations and guest convenience. Already, some hotels are experimenting with the possibility of allowing guests to use their own devices as a guestroom key, a feat accomplished by the electronic transmission of encoded data. With growing numbers of hotels considering offering mobile reservation and check-in functionality, the automatic receipt of guestroom numbers and access credentials has the potential to render front desk check-in lines virtually obsolete.

Increasing need for wireless bandwidth

One unintended consequence of rapidly advancing technology has been the increased strain placed on a hotel’s bandwidth infrastructure, with more guests using multiple mobile devices. The response of the industry has been to seek greater wireless bandwidth in order to maintain a level of service that neither inconveniences guests nor disrupts property operations.  

The desire for faster service also drives the gradual convergence of various property networks into a unified platform that offers far more enhanced and responsive functionality. Some hotels have developed systems that not only allow guests to make reservations from mobile devices, but also integrate mobile functionality into various other property systems via the PMS, in order to enhance service, efficiency and in-house marketing. With such a system in place, guests are able to issue room service requests or report maintenance issues by using their own mobile device. 

Embracing advantages of the Cloud

The increasing demand for multi-functioning networks goes back to the problematic issue of storing and transmitting data in a quick and efficient manner. The insatiable need for more storage and faster response has led many operators to consider adopting Cloud-based data/network solutions. Through the Cloud, properties have access to a range of benefits that suits their own particular needs, not to mention reducing the capital costs of servers on site and maintenance challenges. Busy properties appreciate the scalability that Cloud technology offers, allowing the addition of services or memory storage as needed, and without the requirement of additional hardware. Multi-property operators also appreciate the ease of sharing and updating data through Cloud-based hosting services. 

All in all, the need for a greater alignment of operational efficiency and guest satisfaction has become apparent. What will determine the success of a product or service is its ability to merge successfully with other facets of a property’s operations. Fundamental to that process is a security platform that can support the effective and continuous functioning of those combined operations; and one that can be easily upgraded to adapt to evolving industry needs. 

For more on technology trends in hospitality, please visit VingCard Elsafe’s blog

Bill Oliver
President of VingCard Elsafe, North America