Select-service hotels have to walk the line between full-service and limited-service properties in many regards. However, as demand for select-service hotels increases (topping demand for full-service properties by nearly 150%), investors are realizing that technology is not one of the items that can be cut back on. Overall, the primary appeal of select-service hotels to investors are lower, controlled operating costs and higher profit margins.
Providing guests with a full-service digital experience while reasonably managing technology investments in order to maintain low operating costs has long been a challenge for the select-service hotel industry.
The implementation of hotel self-service technology in select-service hotels is recognized by many as a great fit.
“We’re not taking away services. We’re bringing back a hotel brand and a segment that caters to the needs of today’s travelers.”
– Brian McGuinness, head of Starwood’s select-service and lifestyle brands
“I think except for the large, full-service hotels, guests are handling their needs themselves. Consumers now have so many ways to shop for the kinds of things concierges always were helpful with,” said Bob Habeeb, president and COO of First Hospitality Group, which manages a large number of select-service properties under brands such as Hilton Garden Inn and SpringHill Suites.
A few select-service brands are already looking to leverage the power of the hospitality technology trend by testing out innovation at various levels. For example, Starwood Hotels & Resorts owns Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft and Element, which total 300 properties. The Aloft brand has gotten particular attention as of late because of a variety of innovative features. Aloft recently introduced to its guests SPG Keyless, room control systems, and in-room Apple TV video streaming.
Most eye-catching among the headlines was the announcement of an experimental robot butler called Botlr at two Aloft Hotels in Silicon Valley. It was certainly an interesting move, as the potential of the robot hotel concept has not been fully realized yet.
“We’re not taking away services,” said Brian McGuinness, head of Starwood’s select-service and lifestyle brands. “We’re bringing back a hotel brand and a segment that caters to the needs of today’s travelers. They are interested in fashion, in design, staying on trend but not necessarily trendy, completely wired for the internet age.”
And installing hotel technology to impress guests has become increasingly affordable for hotels beyond the luxury segment. Decreased costs of mobile technology hardware, including quality smartphones and tablets, has allowed them to become a plausible enterprise tool in numerous industries, from healthcare to education. Hospitality is also beginning to embrace mobile technology, led by luxury and upscale properties. For instance, in-room tablets are an increasingly popular way to maximize guest engagement directly in guest rooms, while also improving brand perception and decreasing printing costs through the replacement of traditional print compendiums and menus.
We’ve now reached a time where select-service hotels are going to be able to offer digital and in-room technology features similar to the upscale segment for an overall improvement in guest experience.