Are Mobile Apps Making Other Hospitality Tech Irrelevant?

Hospitality tech has never been more popular. But is the future mobile-only?

For the first time ever, the entire hospitality industry is feeling a sense of urgency: they’re not just interested in technology, they’re interested in technology right now. As INTELITY CTO Ira Dworkin put it in a recent interview, “Many hotels have known that they would eventually need a mobile app, but thought they could put it off for a few more years. Now they’re asking us, ‘How soon can we get it running?’”

But to his point, it’s apps that most properties and brands are rushing to, especially ones equipped with mobile check-in and mobile key. According to a survey from the end of last year, 90% of guests prefer that the hotel they visit has a mobile app offering the ability to completely manage their stay without having to interact with a person.

That begs the question: what about everything else? Is the future of hospitality mobile-only? In late 2019, IoT was being heralded as the hottest hospitality trend. At the same time, others were calling voice technology the next big thing. And while the vast majority of the attention is on mobile right now, it’s not the only technology that can make a huge difference for hotels.

In fact, technology like in-room tablets, casting, and voice may not be making the news as often, but they are growing in demand, even during the pandemic—for two important reasons.

First, the obvious. Despite mobile apps leading the pack when it comes to offering contactless services, in-room technology does have a lot of pandemic-friendly features. Tablets, for example, are an easier-to-clean alternative to printed compendiums and enable guests to order dining, schedule contactless deliveries, communicate with staff, and much more—all in just a few taps, without ever needing to get out of bed. Voice is a bit more limited, but does much of the same, giving guests a hands-free experience that’s preferable to using an in-room phone or heading down to the front desk.

But overall, the reason interest in other hospitality tech remains strong and is growing again in 2021 is because of what we call “The Tech Refresh.” For the last decade, old legacy systems have slowly become a problem for properties. Not only can old tech leave a stay feeling outdated, there’s an increasing sense from guests that it’s no longer acceptable.

For properties trying to modernize, getting rid of in-room phones and printed compendiums is a priority—especially as over half of all Americans (and well over two-thirds of Millennials!) no longer own or regularly use landlines at all. Voice and tablet technology can offer call functionality and much more to a room, making them a natural fit for properties looking to cut the cord. The same shift is happening with TVs, as over 60% of U.S. households now have a Smart TV. For hoteliers, the ability to give consumers a streaming option is becoming a much more pressing need. Casting offers guests the easiest way to use their streaming services and control the TV from their own device, removing the need to log into their accounts on a TV for just a few nights.

For the last year, The Tech Refresh has continued in spite of COVID, and will only grow as properties and brands recover. So is the future of hospitality mobile-only? Not at all. The future is properties creating a digital guest journey—one that matches the lifestyle and preferences of its guests at every point in their stay. And over time, that will require much more than an app.

Find out how you can transform the guest experience with digital comfort and convenience throughout your property. Request a demo of the INTELITY platform, which unites mobile, in-room, and staff technology, and is scalable to any property size.

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