Executive Insight: Hotel Hardware & Why Hotel In-Room Tablets Are The Next Big Thing

EXECUTIVE INSIGHT
This post provides insight directly from a member of our executive committee, CEO & President David Adelson.

The news about the release of my company’s new hospitality-specific in-room tablet is out, and I felt it would be appropriate to address why we felt like this move was necessary.

The iPad was released in 2010, and it was a revolutionary moment for mobile technology. Within a month of the iPad being released, we became the first to deliver these devices to hotel rooms as self-service tools to provide guests with more convenient access to information and integrated guest services. Now, six years later, my company has delivered tablet technology to guest rooms in hundreds of hotels throughout the world. We’re even now installing this technology in staterooms aboard cruise ships as well.

My company’s interest in tablets stems primarily from a desire to create amazing software solutions that enable both the guest and the hospitality operator through the use of our hospitality technology platform. Furthermore, the design of the tablets themselves are a fitting form for any guest or stateroom.

Hotel guests have an obsession with mobile technology, especially as they relate to streamlining the travel experience. Jean Philippe Bouchard, IDC’s Research Director for tablets, has said these devices continue to be popular because they are viewed as “PC replacements.” Reports show that PC sales have had the largest decline ever, and tablets with comparable performance capabilities have had an impact on that.

Somewhere in between a PC and a smartphone, tablets offer screens large enough to accommodate easy viewing, from reading to watching movies, while still being lightweight and portable.

Over the years, they’re proven to be a perfect bedside feature in hotel rooms. Luxury hospitality was the first to embrace this trend, largely due to price point. The cost of installing brand name tablets in every room was a challenge for the majority of the industry, and the technology was still new enough that it was hard to tell whether guests would take to it long term.

Neither of those statements are true anymore. Tablet costs have fallen significantly, with a variety of models now available that rival leading names in both appearance and quality. And consumers have shown genuine, ongoing interest in tablets, with nearly half of U.S. consumers reported to own one by end of 2013. Furthermore, our installed hotels are engaging their guests with over 84% average daily usage.

Placing tablets in hotel rooms makes sense.

  • They can easily replace antiquated landline phones, alarm clocks-radios, and binders of paper with an all-in-one solution for a digital compendium that can be regularly updated with real-time, relevant content.
  • In-room tablet technology bridges the communication gap between guest and hotel staff members in a more personal, organized way.
  • It’s a step forward toward modernizing the hotel guest experience to match travelers’ at-home lifestyles.
  • Most guests already carry smartphones loaded with all their personal information, so placing smartphones in the room might not make as much sense, whereas tablets are able to serve numerous functions within this setting.
  • Tablets are also much more familiar and accessible to today’s guests than any of the traditional guestroom staples, like landline phones.
  • They have longer life cycles than smartphones, or hotel hardware such as alarm clocks, and don’t have to be replaced every single year, thanks to software upgrades and durability of the hardware.
  • In-room tablets are considered a beneficial factor for AAA Diamond ratings for hospitality.
  • Tablets are already a proven in-room solution. One of our first partners, Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, reported 51,000 impressions in the first week alone and saved $12,000 on printing costs after installing tablets in guest rooms, and we generally see guest engagement for most of our hotel partners at over 84%.

It’s long been a goal of mine to make our in-room tablets available to the entire hospitality market, not just the upscale or luxury segment, and presenting this new tablet allows me to finally do so. I look forward to introducing the industry to it at this year’s HITEC in New Orleans, and I hope you’ll reach out to me and my team to get your own hands-on experience with it in the weeks to come.

David Adelson is president and CEO of Intelity, the leading provider of guest services technology to hotels. For more hospitality & technology news and insight, follow Intelity on Twitter,@intelity.