With the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic being that of contact and proximity, hoteliers are starting to invest more in touchless technologies. Guests no longer have to stop at the hotel lobby to check-in and pick up their room key – they can go right to their room using their phone.
Guests don’t even have to pick up the remote in their room to turn on the TV. They can have complete control over the room from everything to dimming the lights, setting the thermostat to their desired temperature, and if the hoteliers technology budget allows — drapery control. For seamless room control, having an open API is essential so one third party can talk to another third party.
It’s all about making the guest experience personal. “Ideally we want our environments to be aware of us and our intentions and everything else that goes with it,” says Yiannis Cabolis, director of technology innovation at Electrosonic.
Before any of that control can begin, the most important step is ensuring hoteliers have the technology infrastructure to deploy it. “You can have the best technology in the world but if you have no platform or no infrastructure to deploy it, you’re dead in the water,” says Cabolis.
One of the keys to project success is when the team is compiled of someone from the customer side and the IT department.
“You want to include IT right from the get-go because they know their networks. They know if their switches need to be replaced before this can even happen or they don’t want us on their network at all and we have to build our own network,” says Joseph Yost, director of engineering services for CCS Global. “You don’t want to get to the end of the road and then request a bunch of IPs from an IT director and the IT director says, what are you doing?” Engage them early and keep them involved in the project from the start,” he says.
The services hoteliers provide should not just be confined within the perimeter of a room but must also be available throughout the entire campus.
“The onset of AV-over-IP has really allowed us to expand very easily the AV experience to other parts of the property,” says Yost. “If you have a concert out at the pool and the customer is recording it with a camera, we import that into an encoder and can send it throughout the property to decoders, so it’s gotten very easy for us to distribute AV throughout properties with AV over IP,” he says.
“I often tell my guys, we’re no longer a traditional AV company, we’re an IT company doing AV,” says Yost. “I would say 90% of our installed jobs have some form of it on it, whether it’s a control switch or it’s a full-blown managed switch that’s managing video traffic audio traffic control, so we have pushed ourselves into the IT industry.”
Other key successes for integrators include having patience, compassion and flexibility. “Technology is forever changing, budgets are forever changing, and the guests’ needs are forever changing; so, whatever is designed has to be extremely flexible for the client,” says Chris Kratochwill, manager of design consulting at Electrosonic.
“I think that really listening carefully and understanding and providing not future-proof [tech] because technology is always evolving but specifying what is that can last in time,” says Maurizzo Capuzzo, chief marketing officer at Electronsonic. “That’s why in our vision and mission, we talk about lasting experiences not only from the memorability point of view, but that you have a technology infrastructure that you don’t have to toss away because technology is continually changing.”