Study: Hotels Need To Be A Smart Home Away From Home

A recent study has discovered that the average American hotel room is behind the average American home when it comes to technology while a “home away from home” experience is what keeps guests satisfied, reports News Wise.

Professors at the University of Delaware; Sri Beldona and Zvi Schwartz conducted the study, which was published in The International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management.

Their survey of 595 people who had, at some point in the last year, stayed in a hotel, discovered that guest satisfaction increased directly with how the hotel’s technologies matched those at home. Beldona said this research reveals the importance of using the homes of guests as a tech reference point, rather than what other hotels are doing.

“I’ve always been interested in the concept of ‘home,’” Beldona said. “Hospitality is rooted in ‘home,’ because hotels are giving a service that is unlike any other. They have to be intertwined with the customer’s lifestyle. How has technology penetrated this lifestyle?”

Beldona said hotels have fallen behind the average tech-permeated home. For example, he pointed out that 10 to 15% of American homes have voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, but these remain mostly unavailable in hotels.

“You can look at the adoption pattern of certain specific technologies and see that hotels are still catching on, while consumers have already moved forward with many of them,” he said.

Hotels, Beldona said, are faced with challenges such as figuring out which technologies will become standard and mainstream before making the high financial investment into them. Not only that, franchise structure also pushes brands to be careful and work through multiple studies answering many complicated questions before implementing new technologies.

“So it’s understandable to some extent, but the gap that we see between the industry and the home now is a little too wide,” Beldona said.  As for what customers can expect, Beldona advised checking to see if hotels have the amenities they need to support their work and lifestyle there prior to making selections. He also pointed out that futuristic smart devices will seem standard tomorrow.

“In the hotel industry, that’s where the focus is now: leveraging smart technologies to provide superior experiences,” he said. “That is going above and beyond now; that’s the way it’s perceived now. But it’ll become very common in a few years.”

As for the academia of the industry, Beldona said this research strongly suggests redefining hospitality, with the concept of “home” as the target.  “It’s a simple paper, but it’s powerful,” he said. “It addresses a very fundamental aspect of hospitality.”