NH Hotels recently opened its NH Collection Madrid Eurobuilding, which is becoming a case study for true hotel innovation.
From LED vault screens in the lobby projecting digital art and “special sound” to “Living Lab” rooms showcasing the latest technologies, there is no shortage of “wow-factor” innovations that reinforce that this could be the hotel of the future.
NH Hotels is an example of a brand taking bold steps. However, there are some issues, challenges and opportunities that come with taking this tack.
One of the issues is that larger brands tend to go all in on a big technology project from the start. This involves perfecting the innovation from the beginning, then rolling it out to different properties. On the surface, this development method seems like a sound strategy.
Here’s the issue: it’s costly and there is no guarantee that guests will flock towards the technology. By piloting smaller programs, it is possible to test out the technology and receive early guest feedback – to see if it’s a worthwhile investment that truly enhances the guest experience.
In addition, internal IT departments at major brands have a mentality of “if I build it, then I will have a job.” However, this approach should be countered by looking externally to partners to help build the solutions. By doing this, IT departments can focus strategically on the guest needs – while the partners help in the actual development.
It is all too easy to choose the latest “shiny object” such as Google Glass (which is facing it’s own internal challenges at Google, by the way), which may not be what the guests actually want. Often times, going for more utility solutions that provide a frictionless guest experience is the best way to go.
By taking this value-based approach, hoteliers can focus on meeting core guest needs, then worry about the revenue later. Large brands often make the misstep of trying to develop solutions for engaging the guest, as opposed to meeting true needs.
NH Hotels is certainly paving the way for an innovative future for hotel technology. Many brands can follow this lead, but should take one critical component into account: focus on meeting guest needs first.