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Hospitality Trends for 2020: Using Technology to Enhance the Guest Experience

Olivier Perrigueur

A hotel room isn’t just a home away from home. It’s an opportunity to impress and dazzle—in addition to offering comfort and creating unforgettable experiences for guests.

The hospitality industry is paying attention.

In recent years, hotels at all price levels have stepped up their addition of technology as part of their amenities. With people choosier than ever about how they spend their travel dollar, hotels want to provide a better, more dramatic guest experience—one that, if anything, improves on what people have in their own homes.

How are they doing that? Here are some trends to follow in 2020 and the coming years:

  • Higher expectations. Whether the facility is aiming for everyday business travelers or high-end tourists, standards are rising as brands seek to differentiate themselves. Indeed, the major operators, including Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt, and IHG, have introduced new brands—many at the mid-market to luxury level—to appeal to particular niches. These brands frequently offer stylish, minimalist décor, sleek plumbing fixtures, and intuitive lighting.

Luxury brands, of course, seek to elevate the experience even more. For example, the Lutron myRoom solution, which is found in a number of luxury hotels, includes a programmable welcome scene that responds when the guest opens the door: drapes pull back, shades go up, and lights go on automatically. Rooms also have simple remotes and offer greater personalization, so that rooms can be set up in a way that provides maximum comfort and utility during a guest’s stay. For example, when the guest is in bed, they can press a single button and the lights will go off, the shades and blackouts will close, and temperature will be set for a restful sleep—a simple and elegant solution to the problem of getting up to turn off each light and close the window coverings.

  • More intuitive devices. Even these days—when our technology strives to be plug and play—hotel rooms can invite some old-fashioned confusion. What switch turns on what light? Which way is hot and which is cold? Do I have to blindly stumble to the bathroom in the middle of the night?

But more and more, the hospitality industry seeks to make guestrooms easier to figure out. Lighting control has been a key differentiator, with solutions offering that single-button bedside all-off switch, clearly labeled keypads, and levels of dimming that allow guests to find their way in the dark without full-on illumination, thanks to a bedside “Nightlight” button.

  • More integration. Technology enables more efficient service. For example, with some solutions—which integrate with hotel rapid response systems—the hotel staff can be alerted when a guest requires attention or a clean room.

Moreover, these systems help save money. By integrating with HVAC systems, room thermostats can revert to set points when a guestroom is unoccupied, returning to preferred temperatures upon a guest’s return. Even automated shading solutions help: Not only do they reduce glare, but they can maintain temperature control by preventing heat gain, as well as limiting wear and tear on fabrics and furnishings caused by sunlight.

  • Code requirements. Some of the latest building energy codes now require automatic shut-off of lights and energy-saving strategies such as temperature setbacks. Hotel operators are sensitive to environmental concerns, and these requirements help support their environmental initiatives while also saving money. Not only does lighting control offer many energy-saving benefits, they come with visual dashboards that offer alerts, occupancy indicators, and optimization strategies.

Many of these trends once seemed futuristic. But when it comes to lighting control, the future is here—and the hospitality industry is embracing it. Technology is most useful when it enhances the guest experience while keeping things simple and intuitive.

Olivier Perrigueur is Vice President-General Manager Commercial Architectural Business at Lutron Electronics.