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Hotel room, a trend towards personalization

Just when the notion of made-to-measure is playing a key role in the hotel industry, personalization extends beyond service and gradually finds its way into all hotel spaces, including rooms. It meets the growing will of hoteliers to better adapt to customer preferences and their expectations in terms of comfort and services. From decoration to fitments and atmosphere to entertainment, the trend is now taking over the entire hotel room and entering its farthest corners.

Today, professionals no longer talk about hotel stays, but customer experiences, and the room is an integral part, playing a key role in the wellness quest of clients. In their research, designers and suppliers for the hotel industry are sparing no efforts to adapt all the aspects of the hotel room to their guests’ preferences. Interior designer Maud Bury thus designed a room concept that is 100% personalizable that she baptized My Room Concept. It is a room created to be modular and to meet three current consumer expectations: flexibility, to make the room a space for the night, for relaxation and reception or dining; personalization, to give guests a choice of decoration and arrange the room depending on their desires and needs; and the wish to be able to work in the hotel, expressed by the vast majority of business and leisure travelers. In order to realize the conception and concretize its project, Maud Bury partnered with four companies specialized in different areas that are accustomed to the hotel industry: Philips for lighting and screens in the room, Muzeo for design and decoration, Somfy for domotics and blinds, and Hatworth for furniture. This new space was designed so the customer could be master of the decoration and setting thanks to a series of technological tools. It will, for example, be possible to adapt the room’s lighting to different activities, to change the color of the room, or choose decorative elements using a touchpad connected to wall screens able to display different works of art. Atmosphere is not the only personalizable aspect of this new generation room concept. The guest may easily change the room’s function thanks to an intelligent wall designed to give access to all the room’s furniture and IT commodities: foldaway bed, closets, lit niche with a touchpad, rail of electrical and digital outlets, a table on a rail, office equipment… While all hotels are still not able to offer as complete a solution as the one imagined by Maud Bury for her clients, some properties and hotel suppliers are showing a lot of imagination to provide guests with greater autonomy once they are in their rooms. The goal consists of making a made-tomeasure hotel experience in and of its own and to give travelers free reign in terms of the functionalities and appearance of their hotel room.A made-to-mesure interiorWhile standardization of rooms remains a practice specific to the hotel industry, properties are increasingly using materials and modular and personalizable fitments. Hoteliers are now looking to stand out among the competition by offering their guests a unique experience through room decoration. While the modular trend applies to furniture and fitments, some properties go further and attack room decoration in an effort to make the hotel stay something that can be personalized and offer adaptable interiors. In the United Kingdom, for example, The Waterhead Hotel offers guests the possibility of customizing their room according to their taste. The concept relies on a simple principle: upon arrival, the hotel invites its clients to personalize their room by adding a variety of decorative objects such as photographs, art objects, candles, flowers, cushions and other wall decorations. In the Principality of Monaco, NI Hotels goes further and offers to find photos, texts or other visuals for its guests, to post them on the headboard to somewhat personalize their hotel experience. Following the same trend, The Grace in New York asks its clients upon reservation what their preferences are regarding room fitments (business or leisure), colors used for decoration and choice of pillows.While decoration is an important aspect in guest wellness, taking their preferences into consideration is a trend that affects all the characteristics of the hotel room, especially as far as concerns the primary function of a hotel: sleep. Bedding is no exception and several chains have implemented “menus” for their properties to offer a choice among a selection of pillows, mattresses and eiderdowns. The brand Conrad, for example, offers a “Pillow Menu”, including a choice of over 75 pillows with different characteristics such as: anti-snoring, total relaxation, romance, organic, anti-migraine or hairstyle keeper. Televisions also lie at the core of this trend, especially with the LG Electronics’ made-tomeasure offer. The ProCentric can be personalized: guests may access pre-loaded Smart TV applications and connection options that simplify access to its contents. Hotels can also personalize interfacing in order to integrate their brand or practical functions, such as departures/remote payments and room service. In addition to the personalizable user interface, customers will benefit from a variety of connectivity options; the usual connection using USB and integrated WiFi, will be joined by intelligent connectivity thanks to SmartShare, a portal that transmits contents using technologies such as Intel Wireless Display (WiDi), to wirelessly stream contents to the TV from compatible devices. Wifi is another room service that is beginning to adapt to users’ needs. Passman, the specialized supplier, has a new next generation network that is innovating how it manages the bandwidth that it has installed at Accor group hotels. “Wifi is now a necessity for guests, in the same way as television or the bed. Guests mostly use the Wifi connections for their emails and boarding passes, but today some are beginning to use it to watch streamed video or to download videos. The Passman solution thus makes it possible to provide the right bandwidth at the right moment for clients by adapting to their needs thanks to dynamic management of connectivity while guaranteeing a minimum of connection,” explains David Esseryk, VP Consumer Technologies at Accor. Other properties adapt their services right down to the contents of the minibar, offering their guests the possibility to personalize the contents. In order to facilitate professionals’ job’s, some suppliers studied the question to come up with solutions to facilitate personalization. “We are now able to personalize our minibars and eTrays to meet customer demand. Moreover, our software is capable of managing different sizes of minibar and different “menus” in a single hotel depending on the type of room (standard, «executive», suite, etc). The internal configuration of our minibars is also modular: in some countries, for example, soda cans are forbidden or require hotels to pay a recycling tax, so we offer shelves and door baskets adapted to larger formats,” explains Sophie Longevialle, Marketing director at Bartech, which recently launched a new generation, lowenergy automatic minibar called Neobar. Energy consumption is also a concern for Dometic: «All of our minibars are Europeanmade and we have developed the Fuzzy Logic system which allows us to achieves the lowest consumption in the market with a very accurate electronic management system by temperature « says Veronique Cordy, Key Lodging Accounts for Dometic which has just launched Door- Lock systems.Intelligent roomsWhile room decoration, its furniture and its equipment are three necessary factors for measuring the quality of a hotel property, managing this equipment is now an essential component of the hotel experience. Room personalization goes beyond the simple visual aspect and applies to the overall atmosphere of the room: temperature, luminosity, climate control, and even turning off audiovisual equipment. Today’s technological tools make it possible to control all these aspects that provide comfort to the client in a centralized and personalized manner, making the hotel room a space that is autonomous and independent from the rest of the hotel property. Giving guests the freedom to regulate the room’s atmosphere directly is another necessity for professionals in light of current sustainability issues. This makes it possible to control consumption at properties more precisely, with the guest using just the energy he needs. Domotics solutions for hotels are experiencing faster development and equipment for small and midsize properties is increasingly affordable.The supplier of technological solutions for corporations, Vity, for example, sells its V-Room solution to allow customers to manage their room environment from a touch screen. This centralized management system makes it possible to check all equipment and take action in real time to control, manage and optimize actions, while considering the energy imperatives. The hotel group Peninsula was seduced by this operating mode and developed its own solution for personalized rooms. It has intuitive technology for its interior using personalized interactive tablets that it makes available to its clients in several languages (English, French, Chinese, Japanese). Guests may thus personalize their space according to their preferences and consult information regarding the room overall: the intensity of lighting, remote controlled blinds and indoor temperature. The Peninsula group’s tablets also give direct access to floor service in the hotel, the restaurant’s menu, TVOD, the different services offered within the property, as well as to tourist information about the destination, because personalization is first and foremost by choice. Centralizing information about services offered at the hotel and providing hoteliers with a veritable direct sales channel in the room is what the agency iFizzy offers with its ready-togo offer of digital tablets. “The concept is simple, it is a matter of making iPads available to hotel guests in order to create interactivity between guests and the property, by increasing, in particular, the level of reactivity of personnel,” explains Laurence Levèfre, founder and director of iFizzy. The client can thus interact with all the services offered by the hotel he’s staying in to buy, order, reserve, get information, seek entertainment, or even play. The founder speaks in particular of real time “madeto- order service” because the tablets are registered in the name of the guest occupying the room and hoteliers are able to personalize the offers made available to each guest on the interface. “It is also a source of additional revenues because the tablets are a direct sales channel, limiting the number of intermediaries between the product or service to be purchased and the client, and thus the reflection time and decision process. All without commission,” adds Laurence Lefèvre. The hotelier can also gather information in real time about his hotels as well as about guest satisfaction and thus react before check out.Personalization from arrivalBeyond room services, professionals are now taking on personalization of access, particularly through the development of mobile phones as keys and dematerializing reception and giving guests the option of passing through hotel reception or not. This is a new generation of services made possible by the arrival of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. Developed by Sony and Philips, it makes it possible to share data between a reader terminal and any mobile device, such as a cell phone, and could substitute today’s keys and coded room access cards. But the system authorizes other, more complete applications as well. In fact the technology makes it possible to send a coded message to the client through their telephone, letting them know their room is ready and providing them with a signal stored in the chip to open their door. All without having to go through reception. With the clear advantages of NFC, several properties have already experimented with them, particularly at the Holiday Inn and the Hyatt group. The system is nonetheless far from being a general trend as demand from hoteliers remains low. “Today, only 8% of the Smartphones market is equipped with NFC technology, iPhones, for example, do not have it. As for us, we are ready to take the step: all locks are pre-equipped with NFC and may be rapidly activated, but very few are activated because of the low demand up to now,” explains Romain Vizzacchero, Sales manager Assa Abloy Hospitality, which has just launched a new concept of online locks that communicate with one another and with reception that is called Vision Line. It is the same case at Kaba: “Our RFID locks are NFC compatible. That being said, very few portable telephones offer this capability. Also, we have a «OpenWays» partnership which offers the possibility of an opening with any telephone through a crypto acoustic process with our locks and Quantum RT”, explains Dominique Lasnet de Lanty, technological director and head of hosting.

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