A Brief Look at the History of Hotel Technology

The hospitality industry has come quite far when it comes to adopting innovation, as shown in this history of hotel technology timeline.

Rapid developments within the field of hospitality technology have been getting a lot of attention within the past 10 years, but innovation has been taking place since the industry began.

General changes in society have led to new expectations that redefine what it takes to satisfy guests and remain competitive in earning loyalty. There have been countless milestones celebrated within hospitality along the history of hotel technology, such as the introduction of electricity, the hotel telephone, the in-room radio, the now standard hotel room TV, and now the adoption of mobile technology to enhance the end-to-end guest experience.

Mobile technology has shaken up the travel and hospitality industries, unlike any other innovation in quite some time. Telephones took nearly 80 years to reach half of U.S. households. Smartphones took less than 10.

Not only that, global travelers and hotel guests are proving to be early adopters when it comes to mobile. Smartphone penetration and mobile use are higher among global travelers than in other groups.

“Travelers are setting standards across the globe when it comes to leveraging the latest mobile services. Not only do travelers have the highest rates of smartphone adoption, but they’re also doing more with their devices like booking, payments, and check-ins,” said Clinton Anderson, senior vice president of traveler experience for Sabre Travel Network.

“So their expectations for intelligent, personal experiences via mobile are high and continue to rise. Travelers are setting the bar for mobile services and will drive new innovations in the travel industry and beyond.”

“Travelers are setting the bar for mobile services and will drive new innovations in the travel industry and beyond.”

We’ve released an infographic, found below, providing a more in-depth look at the history of hotel technology, but here are some key years along the industry’s innovation timeline.

2016 – The world’s first robot hotel opens in Japan (Henn-na Hotel), furthering the discussion of automation within hospitality technology.

2012 – Introduction of the first service-enabled hotel brand app by Conrad Hotels & Resorts, through a partnership with Intelity, begins to change the industry’s view of mobile technology as a bridge to guests.

2010 – Apple releases the first iPad, and the first in-room iPad makes an appearance at The Plaza Hotel in NYC to set new standards for hospitality technology trend adoption.

2009 – The first mobile hotel app for guest service and operational enhancements is introduced by Intelity.

2007 – The release of the iPhone marks a change in views on mobile technology and apps.

2003 – Hotel WiFi begins a steady increase, as more than 6,000 hotels make it available to guests.

1995Choice Hotels International and Promus are first to offer guests real-time access to central reservations. Choice and Holiday Inn are first to introduce online booking capability.

1994 – This year marks the debut of the first online hotel catalog (Travelweb.com).

1994 – The first hotel chains launch websites on the Internet (Hyatt Hotels and Promus Hotel Corporation).

1983Westin is first to offer reservations and checkout using major credit cards.

1983VingCard invents the optical electronic key card.

1986Teledex Corp. introduces the first telephone specifically for hotel guestrooms.

1976 – Two Florida hotels are the first to offer HBO in guest rooms. A year later Showtime and The Movie Channel debuted in hotels as well.

1973The Sheraton – Anaheim is the first to offer free in-room movies.

1969 – Westin is the first chain to implement 24-hour room service.

1966InterContinental Hotels & Resorts introduces ice and vending machines in guest corridors.

1958Sheraton introduces Reservatron, the first automated electronic reservation system in hospitality, and the first toll-free reservation phone number.

1947 – Westin establishes the first hotel reservation system.

1947The Roosevelt Hotel NYC installs guestroom TVs.

1946 – Westin debuts first guest credit card.

1927 – The first hotel room radios become available in every guest room at Hotel Statler, Boston (Boston Park Plaza Hotel).

1910 – First hotel in-room bathrooms introduced at The Goring Hotel, London.

1910 – Electricity begins to become widely prevalent in hotels.

1894 – The Netherland Hotel, NYC, introduces the first in-room telephones.


CNN – 8 hotels that changed the industry

Hospitality Net – Intelity’s ICE Mobile Coming to the App Store & App World

4Hoteliers – A 30+ Year Timeline of Meetings Technology Innovation

LinkedIn – The historical milestones in the growth of the hotel industry

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