Is Technology Disrupting your Business? The Intended and Unintended Effects of Technology in Your Hotel

Bret Wirta and Greg Duff

May 10, 2017 – Greg Duff, Chair and Owner of Garvey Schubert Barer presented at the Choice Hotels Annual Conference, at the Mandalay Bay Hotel, Las Vegas.

Greg heads his firms Hospitality, Travel and Tourism group. He is our company’s hospitality attorney. Greg says these six technologies will have the largest effect on all of us in the hospitality industry in the future:

  1. Voice or Messaged Based User Interfaces. Intended – accessibility, ease of use, multitasking Unintended – This will bypass our franchise channels and control the bookings. How do you communicate terms of agreement for room booking?
  2. Internet of Things. Intended – Enseo is a smart device that controls TV, predicts temperature and sets room thermostat. Beacon tracking technology. location based offers. Unintended – hacking such as airlines, dams, power company. Too much data! Creating liability of no action? Difficult integration
  3. Artificial Intelligence. Intended – Personalization. Make interfacing easy. Ability to access and analyze data and act. Watson is being used by Zumata on Meta search responses. Lola uses real travel agents. Unintended – What about recommendations from AI for healthcare decisions? Is there a human override?
  4. Augmented Reality. Intended- Robust technology delivery. Overlay of technology like Google Glass or enabled screen on phone or Google Maps. Best Western is partnering with Disney to put kids in Disney scenes. Unintended – not paying attention, injury, death, trespass. Privacy exclusion
  5. Virtual Reality. Intended – Wonderful content delivery. Actual reproduction recreation of world as in Google Cardboard. Lodging companies are adapting, especially for tours of hotels. Unintended – Human interaction declines. If it’s so good then why travel? Liability of extreme content. Multi-tasking is a no-no. Whose rules exist in the virtual world? Is what you do their illegal?
  6. Robots. Intended- No sick days, no union, A culmination of all of these technologies come together in a physical presence. Replace human hours/cost. Unintended – no smile and empathy. Guest expectation go through the roof. Narrow scope of responsibility. Privacy. Liability. Loss of control.

In the end I couldn’t help but thinking, is this hospitality world we really want? I think a boutique hotel of the future may be one that is technology free!