Austin, TX-Flat panel displays, bacteria-resistant remote controls and guestroom automation were all the rage at this year’s HITEC show in Austin, Texas. This makes me happy, as I think we are finally reaching the point where technology is beginning to make things easier versus more complex (for both guests and operators). I recall a stay a few years back at a luxury hotel in Manhattan where I was supplied a device that controlled the window shades, climate, television, telephone and even the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign. In my mid-20s and tech-savvy, I remember being so excited to lie on the bed and watch the window shade open and close. Like a character in a James Bond movie, I thought to myself, “I could get used to this.” However, I spoke too soon. The device was confusing, the signal intermittent and the sensation less than fulfilling. If I was frustrated at this “amenity,” I couldn’t imagine what my mom would have thought of it.
At HITEC 2011, I saw a glimpse into the near future of technology and it looked pretty good. Convergence devices that are functional and serve to not only make a guest’s stay more convenient but help operationally as well, reassure me that we are creating innovation with a purpose. Through energy saving technology that automatically adjusts climate and lighting, we are heading in the direction of saving money in the long run. With device designers taking cues from smartphones and erring on the side of simplicity, I have high hopes for the guestroom of the future. The key is to make these technologies meaningful for both my mother and me.