Anybody out there curious about what will await us when we check into a hotel room of the future?’
I am, which is why that headline caught my eye from a recent industry read. Sure enough, some trends are fairly easy to predict because we’re already dealing with some of these projected changes (remote check in via a mobile app and/or self service kiosks, keyless room entry, etc.). But others might surprise you. . .
For instance, did you know there are already some really cool robots hard at work in select hotels around the world? Check out this video and see what you think:
My opinion? Kinda creepy (except that the robot was delivering Jack Daniels, a very fine whiskey selection if I do say so myself. . .), but full disclosure. . . I’m not entirely comfortable talking to Siri or Alexa or R2D2 for that matter.
But before you roll your eyes pondering my age, ahem, think about this possibility in your hotel room of the future: various in-room interactions via VCD (voice command device). Pause while wondering what will happen when I say, “Siri – for the tenth time, close those damn curtains, will you?”. And some hotels have already taken minor steps in this direction by having room temperature and lighting controls connected via inputting your room key into a master control at the entrance which I know first hand can be extremely frustrating, especially when there has been a failure to communicate that to the guest at check in. Sayin. And even when you use it the system requires some getting used to (“dang, where is that darn key now?”) and, as mentioned above, if we’re moving to keyless entries then some hotels will bypass this tech step altogether leaving us all talking to the walls when we want a light turned on or snapping our fingers, clapping our hands, or possibly even jumping up and down to get the air turned off. Sigh. Most talk of these ‘smart rooms’ also refer to a new term we need to get familiar with, ‘Internet of Things’ or simply, IoT, which means the interconnection via the internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects. Major hotel chains are already experimenting with this and more, so get ready.
And how do you feel about facial recognition/digital image for hotel check in including your room access? This is already gained acceptance in China and has been assisted by Apple iPhone X which contains that capability.
But, what about beds? How can hotels improve upon the single most important and prominent feature of any hotel room? Especially when we are all so used to those upgraded Heavenly Beds (thank you, Westin Hotels!). Will we be in hammocks that give us a gentle rock now and again to lull us to sleep? Water pods? Or possibly total levitation dependent on our body consciousness? All possibilities that might come sooner than you think. Oh. My.
Some hotels are already moving towards personalized gym experiences in each hotel room. (After all, it does take quite an effort to march your body all the way down to the fitness center, doesn’t it??) With advance planning you are already able to pre-order that a treadmill, workout bike, and other gym accessories are at the ready in your room, and just like at home, you can have the equipment programmed for exercise experiences such as taking a jog through NYC’s Central Park or a walkabout around the Sydney Harbour. Heck, if you’ve got the money, you can even get yourself a personal trainer to work with as soon as you check in to room #748. After all, who needs to rest when you’ve just spent the better part of your day in that increasingly stressful travel experience to get to said destination?
And finally, I do believe I’ve saved the best for last in sharing this headline that was received in my inbox recently: First Ever Hotel in Space Now Taking Reservations! Not. Kidding. Talk about an out-of-this-world hotel experience (pun intended)! And by earthly my calculations, 2022 is only 4 (light?) years away from us. What’s that, you’re asking? Where do I sign up? Well, first you have to commit to an abbreviated three month training program, down from the normal astronaut training of, um, a lifetime devoted to getting up there? And then there’s that little matter of the price tag, currently estimated at $9.5 million per person. On the plus side I do believe that price estimate will include all resort fees, taxes, and (fingers crossed) unlimited-not-to-mention-pretty-damn-awesome WiFi service 24/7! On the other hand, with four years to go in project development, don’t count on it. Especially and in particular if national hotel branding buys into this. (Yes, I’m lookin’ at you, Mr. Marriott and/or Mr. Hilton.)
Anyway, that’s a very brief glimpse at what’s up ahead or, in some cases already waiting, for those of us brave enough to continue to travel. After all, life’s a journey, right?