Connected Tech In The Hospitality Industry


Cleaners tick off tasks on tablets while chefs browse recipes on iPads in the kitchen – hotels are embracing the latest tech

The connected home is quickly becoming a reality, with apps on your iPad that can control music systems, televisions and lighting.

Google’s acquisition of Nest for £2bn – a company which manufactures smoke detectors and thermostats that feed information to your tablet – was seen as an endorsement of future tech that monitors and communicates with us about our homes.

But it’s not just houses which are seeing the tablet creep in and improve efficiency.

Whilst consumer growth in the tablet market is slowing, its use in the commercial sector is increasing.

By 2018, nearly one-fifth of tablet use is forecast to be by small, medium and large companies around the world.

Businesses are equipping armies of staff with iPads to streamline and perfect both the customer experience and back-of-house operations.

On London’s Regent Street, hotel Café Royal has armed porters, chambermaids and receptionists with devices that monitor every element of the guest experience. From the moment a client logs in during the car ride from the airport, they are tracked and prepared for by staff.

Employees communicate with each other to prepare room keys, requirements and requests – all before the guest arrives.

In one of the suites an iPad controls the blinds, the TV and sound system and even disco lighting.

It puts the bling bling in the palm of a user’s hands.

The technology is ostentatious – and a sign of the expectations of luxury clients in the hospitality industry.

Reception manager Gosia Mendes said: “It’s very important for our guests. It creates the bespoke service we would like to deliver, the luxury experience our guests are coming for.

“It is really tailoring their needs for their stay.”

Behind the scenes, technology is also being used to streamline work operations.

The hotel’s cleaning staff are able to report faults directly to maintenance via an app.

Rooms are checked and boxes ticked, shaving off valuable time during day to day chores.

Figures from the US show that customers are also increasingly willing to use technology in restaurants.

Some 39% of those surveyed said they would use an iPad to order food or look through a wine list.

Businesses are obliging, seeing technology as a way of making sure the diner gets exactly what they want, and that allergies or special requests are properly translated to chefs.

Executive chef Andrew Turner has put tablets in his kitchen. His team follow recipes on iPads, referring to pictures and videos to make sure they achieve a certain level of quality.

He said: “We want to have a paperless kitchen. Staff can access any recipe or cookbook without me having to be there.”

Chefs can spread themselves further, without sacrificing quality.

To what extent, though, is all the technology wizardry an expensive gimmick?

Turner says: “Some of the leading hotels and restaurateurs are already using them – we’re just using them as a tool – it’s no different to me having a notepad.”

The difference is, of course, that tablets are making it easier to share, store and communicate information than paper alternatives.

If tablet technology is shown to improve customer experience and behind-the-scenes operations, it will only become a more important part of the hospitality industry in the future.

By Tom Platt, Technology Producer for Sky News