Robes, slippers and free tea and biscuits were once regarded as the height of luxury in a hotel room. Not anymore.
In a competitive marketplace hotels are increasingly recognising the importance of tech – and London’s 39-bedroom Eccleston Square Hotel is a perfect example.
Acknowledged as one of the world’s top hi-tech hotels, it’s been dubbed ‘Gadget Wonderland’ – and it’s easy to see why.
Situated just two doors away from Winston Churchill’s former home, the venue combines history with the future.
It’s hard to imagine what the legendary British statesman would have thought of the electronically adjustable beds with massage functions – but that’s the reality of today’s hotel.
Company director Olivia Byrne told BusinessCloud: “There’s also an iPad in every room for our visitors to order room service – essentially it’s a concierge at their fingertips.
“We also have a smart glass wall between the bathroom and bedroom in each room, which can go from transparent to opaque in the flick of a switch. This helps to enhance both the size of the room and the lighting.
“We also have complimentary mobile phones in each room for our guests to use.
“The phone allows them free phone calls to up to five countries as well as free internet, so they can walk around London with internet on their mobiles and make calls to wherever they wish to.”
And it’s not just the rooms that are brimming with technology. As you step into the lift you’re met by small television screens streaming news, while the hotel’s media lounge has a 103-inch screen that can be used for 3D movie viewings or presentations.
“I think our visitors seem to just love a combination of everything in our hotel,” continued Byrne.
“Mobile phones seem to be the most popular with our guests; we implemented them around six months ago and we’ve found it really helps the international travellers as they don’t have to worry about phone costs.
“Everyone enjoys different aspects of the technology we use as it’s not intrusive technology – it merely enhances the experience.”
Several of Manchester’s leading hotels spoke about the need to use technology to improve customer service and drive business at our recent breakfast event.
Byrne said that in business you ignore technology at your peril.
“It’s more of an expectation now and it’s not something you can ignore.
“People have technology in their homes already. Going back 50-100 years hotels were seen as aspirational – they were what people wanted in their own homes.
“Whereas now, things have changed so fast, people already have a great deal of tech in their own homes so it’s extremely important to be ahead of the game, in every industry.
“I do think it’s still very important for us to keep hold of human interaction. The reason why a lot of our clients stay with us is partly the technology and partly the service.
“We are a family-run business with a small dynamic team that go above and beyond to help our visitors with absolutely anything, from restaurant recommendations to places to visit around London.
“It’s a home away from home for people. I don’t think getting rid of human interaction altogether is the way to go and ultimately it depends on what sort of hotel it is; we are more hi-end luxury so we can’t expect people to just talk solely to a robot.
“We are always looking for ways to improve. Our next step will be our televisions as there are a lot of innovations happening with TVs at the moment.
“Soon we’ll be allowing our guests to use their own content on the televisions as well as offering 4K LED TVs too.
“Our technology used across the hotel at the moment is still pretty ahead of the game, but we are always looking for ways to improve our customer service through technology innovation.”
Our holiday experiences will one day rely heavily on virtual reality while digitised butlers could also be coming.