Hospitality in 2015 and Beyond…

Forget the connected home. It’s all about the connected hotel.

There used to be a time when traveling businesspeople just needed a place to stay. Clean sheets. A hot shower. Maybe computer access. All of the basic features to get them through their trip. That time has passed.

Today’s traveler expects far more from the hospitality industry. It is no longer enough for hotel chains to merely provide utility. Instead, they must challenge themselves to adapt and find ways to create an experience, from touchdown to take-off, for their customers.

There is now more competition in the marketplace, with companies like AirBnB, which provides a more unique and home-y experience. Brian Chesky, CEO of AirBnB, knows how to go above and beyond for his customers. Services like mobile booking, Uber-like cars service, and cleaning on demand make each stay top-notch. But it’s not only about making transportation and check-in easier, however. It’s about enhancing that visit to the gym downstairs, the dinner at your hotel restaurant and drinks at your bar.

Hotels on The Las Vegas Strip have the idea of customization and “the experience” down pat. And hotel chains like Marriot are working harder than ever to do the same, to help achieve preference with the Millennial traveler.

Last year, Marriot introduced its geo-targeted loyalty offerings driven by beacon technology and its flash deals portion of the program, FlashPerks. The rewards point program allows loyal customers to use virtual currency to participate in unique branded experience and access to special deals and discounts. Examples of a branded experience include test-driving a Porsche or Lamborghini car.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts launched pilot robotic butlers, called “Botlrs,” in its Aloft Hotel in Cupertino, which help deliver amenities to a traveler’s room. In addition, they also rolled out keyless entry, allowing guests to bypass the front desk and access their rooms using their smartphones. And, at the new Virgin Hotels, you can use your smartphone to control the temperature. According to an article on BrandChannel, there is even a San Francisco hotel that offers champagne delivered by drone.

The connected hotel means complimentary fitness trackers for gym-goers or SmartMats for yogis. Touchscreen dashboards in-room. The sky is the limit.

So CES goers, how was your stay?

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