The DO’s and DON’Ts of Hotel Technology

I’ve often thought that technology is either a hotel’s (or any one’s) best friend or their worst enemy.  Sometimes I can’t figure out which one.

I read an article today (copied its entirety at the bottom of this blog) and while reading it, I thought – well, some of these are great ideas, and well, frankly, some I just think are extras that most travelers just don’t need.

In any case, I highlighted some of the things I thought were good ideas in the long article on both the Do’s list and the Don’ts list.  To summarize some of my favorite points, I especially like the following:

DOs

15.     Use a digital picture frame to communicate tidbits “at a glance” for guests to watch at check in and check out.  As we know, there is idle time that the guest waits while we make keys, add info to the folio screen, etc.  This simple idea is a great way to communicate the specials of the day in your restaurant, weather, special events in town, breakfast times, etc.  Pick about 10-12 different things and load into the frame.  Put it on “slide show” and voila!  Instant digital marketing.

31.  Make sure you have printable directions in your “concierge” book or info at the front desk for places like the Apple Store, Verizon, ATT, etc.  We have it for restaurants, attractions, hospitals, etc. but why not these types of businesses.  How often has a guest said to you, “I forgot my charger – is there a ? Store nearby?” and you have had to re-create the directions.

34.  I hate it when I have to unplug the clock radio or lamp at the bedside, because I need to plug in my cell phone.  The phone charger cords are always way to short to reach from an available outlet to someplace convenient to the bed (I use my cell phone as an alarm).  Better yet – when you upgrade or purchase not bedside lamps – make sure you get one with an outlet built in!  It is a rude awakening when you pull out that nightstand to get to the outlet, and get to see all the dust and dirt that is often missed by housekeeping.

37.  There is nothing worse than having the TV channels not match the channel guide next to the remote.  Also, if you have pre-programmed the station identifier in the TV to appear when you change channels, don’t use the local call letters…. use recognizable identifiers such as ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, ESPN, etc.  I don’t know that WPIX is ABC in your city – and all I care about is that I am looking for my favorite show.  Don’t forget, if the channels change, you have to redo this TV programming as well.

42.  Some people like to “check in” on their Facebook or Four Square apps when they get somewhere.  Make sure you have a reminder at the front desk that tells guests to “check in”.  Make sure you have loaded your hotel in to the system so it is a choice for your guests to find.

50.  THIS IS MY FAVORITE ON THE LIST!  When the guest logs on to the Internet, on the screen where your hotel website pops up for them to log in or put the password for the WiFi, have an e-Postcard available for them to send to their family, friends, colleagues, etc.  Set it up with a nice picture and message (property identity) and encourage them to send it out.  What a great opportunity to get the word out!  Make sure you also have great pictures available for our guests to “pin” on Pinterest.

69.  If you do room service, make sure that your trays are clean, well presented and have some sort of logo’d item on the tray (such as a table tent or logo place mat).  This way – if they take a picture of their food, your name is there for all to see and remember.  (This can also work to the contrary if your trays are dirty, messy and/or the food is unappealing…. )

DON’Ts

16.  You can now get your ATM receipt emailed to you instead of printing all those little slips of paper that usually end up in the bottom of your purse or floor of your car.  Why not ask the guest if you can email their receipt instead of printing it for them?  This way they can choose to save it in a digital file, or print it for their expenses if they need to at home/office.

Happy Browsing!

Linda

* * * * * * * * * * *

DO’s and DON’Ts of Hotel Technology v4 

by Terence Ronson, ISHC
June 21, 2012DO…

  1. Use digital signage instead of printed posters. Chalkboards in some instances, are acceptable
  2. Put some free bottles of drinking water in the mini bar so that they are nice and cool for the guest to grab
  3. Check all peepholes on guest room doors to make sure they are secure, and the right way round
  4. Mount irons on wall brackets in closets/wardrobes instead of placing them on the floor or shelves
  5. Clearly display broadband/Wi-Fi charges, if your hotel has any
  6. Make it easy to switch off all lights in the guestroom from the bed – especially the bathroom lights
  7. Check that all staff who have Master keys, only have access to the areas they are required to – and no others
  8. Make it easy to plug in a hairdryer, shaver, or electric toothbrush in the bathroom
  9. Make the lighting in the bathroom bright enough for doing makeup and to shave – if in doubt, ask a woman to validate it
  10. Have an illuminated make-up/shaving mirror in the bathroom
  11. Have (international/universal type) power sockets easily available for guest-use in public areas, especially Lounges, Dining areas and Poolside – also have adaptors handy for guests carrying overseas appliances
  12. Have an emergency torch/flashlight in the guest room that’s easily accessible in the case of an emergency
  13. Teach Housekeeping to tidy up Guest cables on a desk – but not to disturb any equipment
  14. Exercise caution when dimming corridor lights overnight – some people have night blindness, or phobias, and prefer higher levels of light
  15. Use an electronic Picture frame or Tab on the Front Desk to display currency exchange rates and maybe some marketing info
  16. Offer free boarding pass printing in Business centers
  17. Provide Apple computers in the business center, and not just Window’s PC’s
  18. Check that the Computers in your Business Center or Internet corner, reset themselves each night and clean off any residual files that should not be seen by others
  19. Have an Apple Notebook power adaptor available for a guest to borrow in case they accidentally forget theirs at home. The same principle applies to iPhone/iPod/Blackberries/Samsung etc.
  20. Use wireless mice at the Front Desk – it’s so much more tidy than having unsightly cables everywhere
  21. Have a smartphone compliant version of your hotel factsheets [datafile] available for download on your website (e.g. PDF)
  22. Work with your system providers so that they produce eForms and not printed reports – especially Registration cards and Folios
  23. Make sure excess power and data cables are neatly tied, or cut to the right length. If that is not possible – cover them somehow
  24. Tie up cables behind the Flat screen TV so that they don’t hang below the TV directly in the line of sight of the viewer – like a big U
  25. Have a simple but easy to read digital clock in the bathroom
  26. Encourage staff to bring laptops or Tablets to meetings and use them for note taking and not use paper pads
  27. Have easily accessible (international/universal type) power sockets in Meeting rooms as more and more people bring tech with them and need power – an extension cord or power bar is also handy
  28. If you install a Wi-Fi projector in your meeting room, chances are the person using it has to firstly download a specific driver. Make sure someone is on-hand to explain this and guide them through the process
  29. Have plenty of (international/universal type) power sockets by the guestroom desk, or if not possible, place a small power bar in the desk drawer complete with adaptor
  30. Have a CD/DVD/Blu-Ray lending library if you have such a player in the guestroom – make sure though that this does not break any laws before doing it
  31. Have your Concierge know where is the Apple Service Center and also other popular brands like IBM, DELL, Lenovo, Asus, Samsung and Blackberry
  32. Have a person or system to monitor social networking sites (like FaceBook and Trip Advisor) for mentions about your hotel and respond quickly, and appropriately
  33. Have competent front line staff on-property who can deal with Guest TECH queries – make sure they have the requisite social and interpersonal skills as well – let them also know their limits, and how to escalate the issue if necessary
  34. Have easily accessible empty (international/universal type) power sockets at the LEFT and RIGHT side of the bed – for Guest use only – USB power sockets are a good addition
  35. Realize that when you buy technology – you need a support agreement as well – and this often doubles the Tech cost over 5 years – do a TCO analysis before signing any purchase or support agreement
  36. Put a notice on your HSIA sign-up screen that your government may block access to certain websites and internet services, as well as track their movements online – if they apply to you. Have your IT People know how to workaround this if the Guest should ask
  37. Check your TV channel reception inside a Guest Room from time to time and make sure it’s nice and clear
  38. Make sure the electronic door lock on the guest room door engages quickly when the door shuts using the auto door closer
  39. Check the speed, noise and effectiveness of the aircon fan coil in the guest room
  40. Print your IM address on your Business card like a Skype ID or Whatsapp
  41. Put an internet browsing station in the Staff Canteen for Staff to check email during breaks
  42. Encourage your Guests to also perform a virtual Check-in to such sites as Facebook and Foursquare when they physically Check-in to your establishment
  43. Request your technology vendors to update you twice a year on their roadmap
  44. Add CCTV cameras inside your Data Center – one that is directed to the server racks and the other, facing the entrance door
  45. Remember that guest’s trust their mobile phones to wake them up more than they do your wake-up call service
  46. Perform regular complete system backups and store them off-site in a secure location that is accessible if you need to – in an emergency
  47. Consider placing a ‘dock extender’ cable into the cable pack that you may be placing in your rooms so that a Guest can connect an iPad (as it won’t fit) to the iPod/iPhone dock you are already providing
  48. Have staff who do in-room check-in, offer to help guests connect their computer to the HSIA/Wi-Fi, check the temperature, as well as make them an Espresso if you have such a machine in the room
  49. Allow guest’s to tailor make their fruit basket if you plan to give them one – not everyone likes green apples and pears – same goes for turndown amenity – not everyone wants, or can eat chocolates and cookies
  50. Offer ePostcards from your website
  51. Have a shelf in the toilet cubicle where guest’s can place their mobile phone/PDA/Tablet and maybe a book
  52. Work in your own guestroom from time to time and see how comfortable and practical it is – especially the height of the chair in relation to the desk
  53. Use a bio-metric reader or PIN pad for staff entrance/egress that is linked to the Time and Attendance/Payroll System
  54. Make sure the light inside the wardrobe does switch off when the door is closed – a simple ON/OFF switch is a quick fix to this
  55. Consider [carefully] about moving some of your IT Services to the Cloud – make sure you fully understand the small print on the SL (Service Level Agreement) about ‘uptime’, ‘data ownership’ and ‘migration’ from property based systems
  56. Make sure your room safe is bolted down to a floor or wall and cannot be easily removed
  57. Monitor the TV volume in the guest room so that it can go down very low. Some guests like to leave the TV on all night but at a very low background volume
  58. Have a very low level nightlight in the bathroom/toilet
  59. Deploy the very best cabling and network backbone that you can
  60. Allow Guests of Residential Conferences to use the same LOGIN ID and Password that they use in the Guestroom for access to the WI-FI in the Meeting Room – and don’t make them pay twice
  61. Encourage Guests to communicate with your Hotel through popular Social Networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter
  62. Have an air-conditioning auto cut-off function in the Guest room if balcony doors are opened
  63. Consider using Motion/Presence detectors rather than key cards to control the energy in-room
  64. Check from time to time in-the-floor power sockets – the metal type which are supposed to lift up when the clip is flicked – most often they stick after a while having been covered with floor polish and dust
  65. Talk to your HSIA/Wi-Fi provider about ‘roaming agreements’ and having a pass-thru function to such membership services as Boingo and iPass
  66. Consider having a secure place where Guests can deposit their valuables and gadgets at the poolside or beach if they want to take a dip
  67. Have Wi-Fi at the poolside and Beach
  68. Expect Guests to require a lot of Bandwidth when they use the Internet service in your Hotel – they will BLOG, send/receive emails, stream videos, do voice over internet calling, post updates and pictures, as well as transfer business files – uplink speeds should be as good as download
  69. Realize that a great percentage of your guests are likely to take photos of their meals and room, and then upload them to the Internet. Give them something fun and interesting to capture – preferably with your logo – it’s a free marketing opportunity
  70. Test your magnetic room-key cards to see if they de-magnetize when placed next to a mobile phone or similar device
  71. Encourage Guest contact staff to attach VCF files in emails
  72. Consider having the Valet driver put a cold bottle of water into the car when he picks it up from the Car Park and brings it back to the Hotel entrance for the owner
  73. Consider adding QR codes onto your printed materials and advertising
  74. Put your Hotel onto Skype and encourage that as a method of communication with Guests
  75. Disinfect the TV remote control with suitable chemicals
  76. Check the Mobile signal coverage in your Hotel that’s its working properly in all areas – Guests use their devices more and more and need good signal coverage all over – even inside elevators and bathrooms
  77. Check your PMS that you cannot check someone into a room unless it’s Vacant/Clean and quite possibly also carries an ‘inspected’ status
  78. Think carefully about having a MUR (make up room) light as it shows the room may be empty
  79. Have an Employee BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy
  80. Re-examine what means ‘a day’ in your Hotel if most international flights land or takeoff during the night. Not everyone likes being charged an extra day if realistically your day ends/begins overnight
  81. Have information where guests can buy a 3G data card, what it costs, and know how to help install them as well as how to buy top-up cards
  82. Conduct regular security checks on your network – making sure you have sufficient defenses against external and internal threats
  83. Recycle used laser toner cartridges
  84. For internal use – print on the reverse side of used printer paper – but make sure what’s on the other side is not sensitive or confidential
  85. Think about installing a 3G or 4G mobile hotspot in the Airport Limo or Shuttle Bus so the Guest can use the service to/from the airport or around town

DO NOT…

  1. Use Walkie Talkies in public areas without issuing staff discreet ear pieces
  2. Deploy connectivity/AUX panels without having in-room cable kits available to the Guest
  3. Put a bedside clock that makes a ticking sound
  4. Tell Guests you have an IP phone in the Guestroom – it will be confusing to them
  5. Charge for local phone calls unless you really have to
  6. Make it difficult to use a mouse on the Guest Room desk by using one with a glass surface – put a mouse mat in the drawer and expect the Guest to take it away as a souvenir
  7. Automatically do dynamic currency conversion on credit card transactions – have the customer approve this in advance
  8. Charge exorbitant rates for printing in the business center
  9. Issue replacement room keys without first seeing a valid photo ID
  10. Allow staff to use thumb drives in work computers unless they have suitable security clearance
  11. Allow staff to install cloud storage services like Dropbox on work computers – it’s very dangerous
  12. Print paper reports – circulate PDF versions only
  13. Send faxes when you can attach PDFs to emails
  14. Use worn out ribbons on printers – especially Point of Sale printers in F&B outlets
  15. Assume your backup power generator will auto-start if there is a mains power failure. Test it regularly
  16. Print folios – ask the guest if you can email them
  17. Use paper registration cards – use electronic ones and get digital signature capture
  18. Underestimate how many people will want Wi-Fi access in Public areas and Meeting Rooms
  19. Just install wireless access points in corridors and expect the signal to pass through the door – consider installing Access Points in every room for improved coverage and density
  20. Assume all guests use an iPod, iPhone or iPad – believe it or not, there are other successful products in the marketplace
  21. Put “last updated…” on your website if you don’t do it frequently
  22. Display the number of visitors to your website – no one really cares, and the number may be very small
  23. Put a chair at the desk, which is difficult to pull out or is uncomfortable to sit in – even if it looks nice. Get one with wheels
  24. Limit guests on the number of devices they can connect to the Wi-Fi in the guestroom – often guests carry many more devices, especially if a couple are staying, and with kids
  25. Clutter the desk with collaterals and printed materials – make them digital and multi-lingual – e.g. in Chinese, Russian and Arabic
  26. Just believe that by putting loads of technology into your hotel that the guest experience will be enhanced or that the guest will appreciate it
  27. Place a loudspeaker in the bathroom unless it has a volume control and the sound quality is good
  28. Just rely on the technology to operate your business – it will fail and at the worst possible time. Make sure you have a contingency plan in place for ALL systems and test it periodically
  29. Change any configuration on a guest’s computer unless they ABSOLUTELY agree and you have a written record of the changes made
  30. Have multiple phones in the Guest room unless your really need to – one or two should be enough
  31. Allow iPods, MP3 players or similar devices in the workplace to be connected to your computers
  32. Print anything – only have electronic versions of all your collaterals
  33. Make it complicated for guests to use your technology – they may only stay one night and have no time to learn how to use all the gadgets
  34. Overcharge for IDD calls – see if you can connect your PBX to a VOIN (Voice over Internet) service to reduce the calling costs
  35. Lend guest’s headsets in the gym unless they have been pre-sterilized
  36. Allow social networking connections on workplace computers unless it’s for work
  37. Have water pipes inside your computer room or data center
  38. Just have a single cooling source for your Data Center – have a backup
  39. Have so many TV channels that it’s difficult for the guest to quickly access what they really want to watch and make sure when it’s re-switched on, it goes back to the last channel watched and only re-sets upon check-out
  40. Put a CD/DVD/Blu-Ray player in the Guest room unless there is already a disc inside for the guest to quickly listen to or watch
  41. Operate a 1-button Call Center unless the staff who take the call are full trained to handle ALL queries and in various languages
  42. Put a 4-in-1 copier/scanner/printer/fax machine in the guestroom with just 2 or 3 sheets of paper inside for the guest to print on – include at least 20 sheets
  43. Put a Fax machine into every room – it’s a waste of money! Wheel one in if the Guest really needs it
  44. Use a cloud printing service to the in-room printer you are providing – some guests are bound by company confidentiality policies not to send data outside of their network and so cannot use such services, even if they are hosted by a reputable company – just add a USB cable
  45. Have electronic curtains/drapes unless they can be opened/closed from the bed as well as via a wall switch – make sure the guest knows they are electric and don’t try to pull them closed or open
  46. Put a hairdryer in the bathroom that is underpowered – and don’t hide it in a drawer
  47. Put a reading lamp at the bed which is so powerful and direct that it can burn your Guest’s forehead
  48. Adjust the temperature in the Guestroom if the guest sets it at a certain level. Only reset it upon check-out
  49. Use Flash on your website unless you really have to – not all popular Smartphones or Tablets can handle Flash
  50. Only put a keycard reader on one side of the elevator car if you have floor call buttons on both sides. And from time to time, check they both work
  51. Install an LCD TV in such a away that the Guest cannot access the connectivity ports and by doing so, they can directly connect their own devices for playback
  52. Create an app for your Hotel just for the sake of it – and all it does is make reservations. Let it be informative about your property and a guide to all the various services and amenities you provide. Encourage and incentivize Guests to use this an alternate channel to the OTA – ensuring its Win-Win. It will, after all, be your Shop window in the palm of someone’s hand and directly reflect your brand values.

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