Just as the last hotels are catching on to using tablets for site inspections and smartphones for check-ins, big names in hospitality are going full-speed on the next generation of tech amenities.
Wearable technology, including Apple Watch and Microsoft’s augmented reality Hololens, are poised to supplement and possibly supplant the convenience of tablets and smartphones for functions like unlocking rooms to paying hotel bills.
Here’s how companies like Disney, Expedia, Marriott, Starwood, and Accor Hotels are already using wearable tech to offer thrilling experiences to engage and attract guests before, during, and after their stay.
The brand that introduced us to the Heavenly Bed knows guests are obsessed with good sleep when staying at a hotel. In a pilot program, eight Westin properties made sleep-sensing wrist bands available to guests. The Sleep Sensor Wearable-Lending program, in conjunction with Lark Technologies, included a sleep monitor and silent alarm clock, sleep pattern tracking, and virtual sleep coaching to help guests get their best sleep to prepare for productive days.
Available in 10 languages, the Accor Hotels Apple Watch app allows guests to manage their reservations, receive notifications when their room is ready, check-in online, read local weather forecasts, receive information about hotel services, check out interactive property maps, and access their Le Club AccorHotels loyalty points.
Expedia’s app for the Apple Watch tells travelers the status of their flight, any gate changes, and assists them with hotel check-in and check-out. When a flight is running late, Expedia’s app will send over a notification to the traveler’s watch. Then when they’re en route to the hotel, the app provides directions and notifies them when they can check-in.
The Disney’s all-in-one MagicBands integrates with the company’s proprietary MyMagic+ system, where guests can plan all aspects of their trip including their resort stay, dining, and shopping. The MagicBand not only acts as a room key, but also as a ticket for attractions, making purchases, and booking transportation or dining reservations. Guests must book directly through Disney to have access to this feature, giving Disney the ability to get more of its products and services in front of future guests.
Starwood Preferred Guests (SPG) have been able unlock their rooms at a select number of properties with the SPG iPhone app for a while now. Now, guests with an Apple Watch can unlock their rooms at Aloft, Element, and W Hotels equipped with the technology. Additionally, guests can also see their reservation details, get directions to the hotel, check in, view their Starpoints balance, and order room service or other hotel amenities with the app.
Marriott International has been increasingly integrating mobile-based services to cater to and attract tech-forward guests. Recently it became the first major hotel company to accept Apple Pay at select properties, starting in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and New York, and eventually expanding to other locations. With this technology, guests can simply tap their iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, or Apple Watch to a reader at the front desk, enabling a faster check-in process and hopefully leading to improved guest satisfaction. In addition to Marriott hotels, the hospitality leader plans to install Apple Pay at their other brands, including Edition, Residence Inn, Renaissance, Ritz-Carlton, and Courtyard.
From Apple Watch apps to all-encompassing MagicBands, wearable tech is a must for modern travelers who are constantly looking for ways to streamline their time on the road. So far, most of these forward-thinking hotel brands have been leveraging the Apple Watch, but let’s see if they’ll open the door for Android users or other wearable technology next.
Written by Junvi Ola.