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Dec 9, 2017,  by Allianz Partners Business Insights

Hilton and Marriott look to "smart rooms" to revolutionise their hotels

A new move being rushed in by some of the biggest names in the hotel sector is to offer their clients smart rooms equipped with the latest connected devices. Their aim is to cater to users of this kind of device who can no longer do without them when they travel. Hilton and Marriott are adopting different types of smart-room strategy.

Two giants of the hotel sector have each recently announced their intention to develop smart rooms concepts, fitted with multiple connected devices and systems. Both the Hilton and the Marriott Groups are taking up the challenge of using connected devices to provide clients with a new experience, as well as simplifying – or at the very least not over-complicating – the lives of those running the hotels in question.


Smart room already being trialled by Hilton


According to the Skift website, Hilton already has a beta version of a connected room available in a few of its hotels, and is aiming at increasing the number of its establishments around the world able to provide this type of equipment as early as next year.

"Imagine an environment where the room knows you and you know your room. (…) and where the only buttons you need to press are in your hand," said Hilton Group CEO Christopher Nassetta at a conference in September, referring to the client’s smartphone as the only thing that they will need once they get into this next generation-style of room.


Marriott focusing on personalised services


Competitors Marriott are also keen to make the most of connected devices. "We are working on technologies which not only anticipate your needs, but which also give your stay a personal touch," said Karim Khalifa, vice-president of design strategies for the group.

The company has already set up a dedicated laboratory at its headquarters for the development of rooms which integrate the Internet of Things, as well as various showrooms showing innovations in actual conditions.


Clients becoming more demanding about connected devices


Those running the hotel chains have to decide which of the innovations made possible by connected devices in homes can be transposed into a hotel room, and which would not be of benefit to their clients. The latter are becoming increasingly accustomed to hi-tech however, and will demand at least a bare minimum of connected systems in their room, said the VP of electronics manufacturer Legrand.

As well as centralised controls for lighting and temperature, voice command has changed how hotel rooms should be fitted out, and virtual assistants are already being used by certain hotel chains. Project managers for connected rooms now need to find the right way of harmonising all of the various services and technologies available.


Invest in R&D or go the partnership route?


This will also give hotel-owners another dilemma to ponder – should they base their model on products that are already available to the general public from the likes of Google, Amazon and Apple, or does it make more sense to design their own systems? Hilton seems to have opted for the latter, and has been investing for a number of years now in the creation of smartphone apps to enable their clients to control their rooms. Marriott on the other hand has chosen to team up with hi-tech giants such as Legrand and Samsung.



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