This is a guest post by James Harrison of HotelTCS. He covers topics concerning Technology in the Hospitality Industry. Looking at subjects such as IPTV, HSIA, WiFi, GPON, and IoT, he gives you the insider info on Smart Hotels and Intelligent Hotel Deployments.

In the middle of 2002, the artist Pink released the song “just like a pill”. That was 18 years ago, and to me, that time has almost passed in the blink of an eye. Yet, when I reflect on it, there have been some big changes, especially on my favorite subject, Hotel Technology!

Back to our song. In 2002, “Just Like a Pill” was released. Pink stated that it was an autobiographical tune, focussing on her publicized battle with illicit drugs. Now, before I lose you, the reason I head in this direction. I want to focus on just one word for the title, and that word is “Pill”.

In our aforementioned song, the word pill is synonymous with a tablet. A tablet of course, in 2002 was only medication. So even though the last 18 years have flown by, I have noticed a change in the meaning of the word tablet.

word tablet

Who Wants a Big Phone Anyway?

Fast forward to 2010, and the late Steve Jobs was ready to deliver his Apple swansong. A project that had bubbled under for many years, and had been rumored since the release of the first generation iPhone. The Apple Tablet. No, wait, the iPad.

The initial reaction to this? Confusion! People genuinely did not see a space in the market for this device. Yet this device sold over twice as fast as the first-generation iPhone. Very quickly competitive devices were released, and within a few years, tablets were everywhere. Now, this is not to say that Apple invited the tablet. Oh no, they’d been about for over 20 years at that point. Apple did, however, make them popular.

Taking the Digital Present

In 2020, I dare say the word tablet is used to mean the device much more than medication. So while tablets are everywhere in our modern life, they’ve struggled to find their place in our hotel guest rooms. Interesting, considering that a huge portion of the global population is familiar with pinch and swipe.

As I sit here reflecting on the huge number and type of tablets available, it makes me think. Why haven’t these devices taken off in our hotel rooms? Is it because people don’t know how to use them? I don’t think so. Is it the cost? Maybe, but there are options for every price range. Perhaps it’s awareness of what they can do?

make me thing

The Hardest Pill to Swallow

Awareness. When I say awareness, I don’t mean guest awareness. Oh no. I give the average guest some credit. No, they are aware of how to use a tablet, and what it could be used for. The awareness issue is in fact with our hoteliers and their technology partners.

I’m going to call myself out on this one. 5 years previous, when asked about tablets in the guest room, I would have responded with the following tried and tested phrase:

“Any guest who uses a tablet will bring a tablet with them!”

As a technology partner, my word was trusted. To be honest, there is some truth in it. For many years I’ve stuck by it and been proved mostly correct. Until now.

Relieving the Pain

Digital transformation is now everywhere. Guest room technology will get a shakeup this year. Not because of a new TV model or WiFi6 access point. Oh no. Because the worlds of technology and revenue management have collided. Not over some brand new revenue management software to replace a spreadsheet. Oh no, they’ve been brought kicking and screaming into the new decade, with tablets.

Now, tablets aren’t the actual reason. No, they’re the enabler in this scenario. Allow me to explain.

dynamic pricing

2020’s key to increased revenue? Dynamic pricing.

For so long we missed a trick with technology deployments. We focussed too much on the lift and shift mentality, that often exists when moving from one technology deployment to another. Take what you already have, and move it to another solution. So, get rid of the printed paper and put it on the TV. This went so well, we pretty much went back to paper.

What we actually should have done is gone back to the drawing board. Well, smartboard naturally. No, that lift and shift mentality stopped us from gaining the biggest benefits from technology deployment.

Popping Pills When You Want Them

With the advent of dynamic pricing, the days of paper directories are limited. Changing in-room directories with any regularity is too great of a cost and effort. No, we need a solution for the rooms. One that can be updated remotely on a schedule or at the click of a button. So here, in our guest rooms, we finally have a use for Steve Jobs’ big phone.

Discounted spa bookings on weekdays? Of Course!

Increased mini bar prices late at night? Naturally!

Weekend restaurant offers? Why not!

Dynamic pricing is the key to increased revenue. Finally, we have a strong argument for those tablets in the room. Combined with a savvy revenue manager and the correct software, the key to maximizing RevPAR lies in a tap and a swipe.

As for me? Just like a pill, this was hard to swallow. Turns out the guests always knew what they wanted. We just needed to learn how to deliver it. So, who does want a big phone anyway? The answer? Anyone who wants to maximize revenue!


James Harrison

James Harrison is a technology consultant with a focus on how hotels use technology in the Guest room. With a passion for both technology and the written word, he produces regular content on technology in the hospitality industry. Connect with him on LinkedIn for more insights. You can read many more of his articles on the HotelTCS Blog.

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