As we dive into the world belonging to the digital generation, it is safe to say hotels must find new ways to innovate. Hotels are responsible for bringing to life the brand they represent and, personally, I think it's one of the only times a brand can actually be lived. Think about the smell, the music, the atmosphere created...Stepping into a hotel means stepping into a new world. Whether its a Sheraton business world, a sustainable world of Elements or a world belonging to the W Millennials, hotels are brands waiting to be lived. With 11 already, Starwood Hotels has the agility to explore with technology as it accommodates to different demographics that all respond to it quite differently.
Four Points by Sheraton |
The Sheraton has always been known for serving its business travellers. As they are always on the go, it makes sense for Starwood to have come out with touch screen mirrors updating guests on weather patterns, time and news. Mashable's Samantha Murphy Kelly brings up a good point being that the concept lacks practicality: fingerprints on mirrors is never fun. Ultimately, it is a step in the right direction for the Sheraton. However, the touch screen mirror is not an innovation of 2015. Take Miami's Casa Moderna, for instance, who introduced touch screen mirror TVs a few years back. In addition, I wonder what is the value added? The general public is used to using their touch screen phones already - iPhones, iPads, tablets, etc. A mirror that does the same may not be benefitting guests as much as the Sheraton hopes. In terms of investment, Starwood could increase customer experience by tailoring their mirror concept and investing in a technology that will give them a sustainable competitive advantage. Thinking cost benefit is where Starwood may go wrong.
Personally, I'd be interested in seeing how the mirror could be tailored to the empowered working woman on the go, who must do her makeup seamlessly in a short period of time. It would be interesting to see if Starwood could introduce a mirror that could zoom in or out allowing for better reflection. Ultimately, the business people are Sheraton's main target market. Finding ways to innovate is not easy but keeping its demographic in mind and maintaing that passion for technology is key and there is no doubt Starwood is on its way to do great things.
ALOFT Hotel's Robot |
This is the concept we've seen in movies and the one we've been waiting way too long for. The famous tech hub of Silicon Valley was introduced to A.L.O, the hotel "Botlr". The robot butler seems great: it delivers toothbrushes, towels, water and much more to guests' rooms....I like it. In reality I do. I don't worry about the loss of human capital - for now. It's a different way to serve guests or interact with them. When done in a tastily fashion, it works.
TNooz talked marketing ROI in its recent article but I must mention that there is a lack of cohesion between Marketing, Technology and Finance with Aloft's Botlr therefore potentially affecting its actual return on investment. As a frequent guest of Aloft, I see how the whimsical idea ties into Aloft's values but I think W Hotels would have benefitted more. Taking into account the fact that the W is a brand boasting innovation, entertainment and all that is fashion-forward, a place for Millennials is where I saw the Botlr making its debut.
Overall, I must commend Starwood Hotels for their dip into the world of tech. There is so much room to play with and I am excited to see such a big player do things that may seem out of the comfort zones of those in the major leagues. Their dedication to meeting the expectations of their guests and surpassing them makes me realize how the world of travel is quickly adapting and creating for us many worlds we all want to be a part of.