I recently had an opportunity to discover how the citizenM* hotel in Amsterdam is pioneering a move towards the new digital hotel; using mobile devices to create better customer experiences, and consolidated analytics to better understand customers.
Its aim is to tackle a significant challenge in the hospitality industry: personalizing the service to the needs of each guest. The answer, it believes, is to restructure all the disparate systems it previously had for storing guest data with a single guest profile. As a result, the hotel has the potential, in the future, to be able to remember your preferences for room temperature and TV channel. They’ll even know how you like your coffee.
Employees will have a tailored dashboard that provides the information they need for their role, such as whether a room is empty (for the cleaners) or what the guest’s favorite tipple is (for the bar staff).
Consumerization in Hotel Technology
The hospitality industry has often used tablets for employees, but a novel twist at citizenM is that each room will have a tablet guests can use to control the TV, windows, radio and lights from a single device.
This is one more example of how hotels worldwide are exploring ways they can streamline the check-in process to improve the guest experience. Starwood is planning to use smartphones or tablets for digital room keys, and Nine Zero is offering iris-scanning for access to the penthouse suite, for example.
Using the Cloud to Synchronize Data
The data will be stored in a Microsoft Azure* cloud using servers based on the Intel® Xeon® processor, with a local server used for backup should internet connection drop. The idea is to use the cloud to synchronize customer data between hotels, so a hotel in London could remember your preferences from Amsterdam, for example.
Sharing Data on the Service Bus with IreckonU
The solution is called IreckonU* and was developed by Dutch software company Ireckon. IreckonU* is built on a highly scalable base layer, which consists of a service bus and middleware containing business-specific logic. All the systems plug into the service bus, from the website booking systems to the minibar, so they can all communicate effectively with each other. Using this architecture, there are none of the maintenance and support headaches usually associated with point-to-point integration because each application just needs to be connected to the bus. At the same time, all the applications will be able to access the full guest profile, and update it to ensure there is a complete picture of the guest. The solution includes several standard building blocks. They enable the hotel to:
- Create dashboards for employees, from the CEO to the housekeeper.
- Optimize reservation flows, room availability and status, housekeeping, payment and client interaction.
- Provide a personalized guest experience in the hotel and with external services such as flight data.
The ireckonU also provides hotel and hospitality brands with a whole range of additional features out-of-the-box so expect to see some of these services starting to appear in hotels in the not-too-distant future:
- If you’re feeling peckish, you’ll be able to order room service through your tablet.
- If you prefer, you will be able to use your own tablet instead of the one provided to control the room. To ensure a great performance, each room will have its own private WiFi network too.
- You’ll be able to set your alarm according to your flight time, and the system will be able to let you sleep in later and reschedule your taxi if your flight is delayed. Now that’s what I call service!
- You’ll even be able to use your phone to check in, and unlock your room door using an app. This will avoid any delays at the reception desk on arrival, and will spare guests the need to carry a separate key with them.
Watch the video to see the whole thing through the eyes of a guest. It provides a real insight into how hotel brands like citizenM and software company ireckon are approaching the challenges in today’s hospitality industry. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the hotel of the future in the comments below.
*Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.
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