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1 June 2012

DO's and DON'TS of Hotel Technology v4

By Terence Ronson - Hospitality Professional, Technology Consultant, Public Speaker and Inventor

With HITEC 2012 (The world's largest Hospitality Technology Show) just around the corner, the season of Hotel Technology Conferences and Exhibitions has firmly arrived, and so becomes the perfect opportunity to update and re-issue our ever-popular Do's and Don'ts of Hotel Technology. Due to advances in technology, and general adoption of certain platforms and practices, the list now includes over 130 reference items.Not all may apply to your particular business, and certainly some are subjective. They should, however, prove to be a good reminder as to how important this area is, and just how much it can negatively impact the customer experience let alone your bottom line, when implemented incorrectly. DO...

  1. Use digital signage instead of printed posters. Chalkboards in some instances, are acceptable
  2. Put some free bottles of drinking water in the mini bar so that they are nice and cool for the guest to grab
  3. Check all peepholes on guest room doors to make sure they are secure, and the right way round
  4. Mount irons on wall brackets in closets/wardrobes instead of placing them on the floor or shelves
  5. Clearly display broadband/Wi-Fi charges, if your hotel has any
  6. Make it easy to switch off all lights in the guestroom from the bed - especially the bathroom lights
  7. Check that all staff who have Master keys, only have access to the areas they are required to - and no others
  8. Make it easy to plug in a hairdryer, shaver, or electric toothbrush in the bathroom
  9. Make the lighting in the bathroom bright enough for doing makeup and to shave - if in doubt, ask a woman to validate it
  10. Have an illuminated make-up/shaving mirror in the bathroom
  11. Have (international/universal type) power sockets easily available for guest-use in public areas, especially Lounges, Dining areas and Poolside - also have adaptors handy for guests carrying overseas appliances
  12. Have an emergency torch/flashlight in the guest room that's easily accessible in the case of an emergency
  13. Teach Housekeeping to tidy up Guest cables on a desk - but not to disturb any equipment
  14. Exercise caution when dimming corridor lights overnight - some people have night blindness, or phobias, and prefer higher levels of light
  15. Use an electronic Picture frame or Tab on the Front Desk to display currency exchange rates and maybe some marketing info
  16. Offer free boarding pass printing in Business centers
  17. Provide Apple computers in the business center, and not just Window's PC's
  18. Check that the Computers in your Business Center or Internet corner, reset themselves each night and clean off any residual files that should not be seen by others
  19. Have an Apple Notebook power adaptor available for a guest to borrow in case they accidentally forget theirs at home. The same principle applies to iPhone/iPod/Blackberries/Samsung/Microsoft etc.
  20. Use wireless [Trackball] mice at the Front Desk - it's so much more tidy than having unsightly cables everywhere and moving the thing around the desk
  21. Have a smartphone compliant version of your hotel factsheets [datafile] available for download on your website (e.g. PDF)
  22. Work with your system providers so that they produce eForms and not printed reports - especially Registration cards and Folios
  23. Make sure excess power and data cables are neatly tied, or cut to the right length. If that is not possible - cover them somehow
  24. Tie up cables behind the Flat screen TV so that they don't hang below the TV directly in the line of sight of the viewer - like a big U
  25. Have a simple but easy to read digital clock in the bathroom
  26. Encourage staff to bring laptops or Tablets to meetings and use them for note taking and not use paper pads
  27. Have easily accessible (international/universal type) power sockets in Meeting rooms as more and more people bring tech with them and need power - an extension cord or power bar is also handy
  28. If you install a Wi-Fi projector in your meeting room, chances are the person using it has to firstly download a specific driver. Make sure someone is on-hand to explain this and guide them through the process
  29. Have plenty of (international/universal type) power sockets by the guestroom desk, or if not possible, place a small power bar in the desk drawer complete with adaptor
  30. Have a CD/DVD/Blu-Ray lending library if you have such a player in the guestroom - make sure though that this does not break any laws before doing it
  31. Have your Concierge know where is the Apple Service Center and also other popular brands like IBM, DELL, Lenovo, Asus, Samsung and Blackberry
  32. Have a person or system to monitor social networking sites (like FaceBook and Trip Advisor) for mentions about your hotel and respond quickly, and appropriately
  33. Have competent front line staff on-property who can deal with Guest TECH queries - make sure they have the requisite social and interpersonal skills as well - let them also know their limits, and how to escalate the issue if necessary
  34. Have easily accessible empty (international/universal type) power sockets at the LEFT and RIGHT side of the bed - for Guest use only - USB power sockets are a good addition
  35. Realize that when you buy technology - you need a support agreement as well - and this often doubles the Tech cost over 5 years - do a TCO analysis before signing any purchase or support agreement
  36. Put a notice on your HSIA sign-up screen that your government may block access to certain websites and internet services, as well as track their movements online - if they apply to you. Have your IT People know how to workaround this if the Guest should ask
  37. Check your TV channel reception inside a Guest Room from time to time and make sure it's nice and clear
  38. Make sure the electronic door lock on the guest room door engages quickly when the door shuts using the auto door closer
  39. Check the speed, noise and effectiveness of the aircon fan coil in the guest room
  40. Print your IM address on your Business card like a Skype ID or Whatsapp
  41. Put an internet browsing station in the Staff Canteen for Staff to check email during breaks
  42. Encourage your Guests to also perform a virtual Check-in to such sites as Facebook and Foursquare when they physically Check-in to your establishment
  43. Request your technology vendors to update you twice a year on their roadmap
  44. Add CCTV cameras inside your Data Center - one that is directed to the server racks and the other, facing the entrance door
  45. Remember that guest's trust their mobile phones to wake them up more than they do your wake-up call service
  46. Perform regular complete system backups and store them off-site in a secure location that is accessible if you need to - in an emergency
  47. Consider placing a 'dock extender' cable into the cable pack that you may be placing in your rooms so that a Guest can connect an iPad (as it won't fit) to the iPod/iPhone dock you are already providing
  48. Have staff who do in-room check-in, offer to help guests connect their computer to the HSIA/Wi-Fi, check the temperature, as well as make them an Espresso if you have such a machine in the room
  49. Allow guest's to tailor make their fruit basket if you plan to give them one - not everyone likes green apples and pears - same goes for turndown amenity - not everyone wants, or can eat chocolates and cookies
  50. Offer ePostcards from your website
  51. Have a shelf in the toilet cubicle where guest's can place their mobile phone/PDA/Tablet and maybe a book
  52. Work in your own guestroom from time to time and see how comfortable and practical it is - especially the height of the chair in relation to the desk
  53. Use a bio-metric reader or PIN pad for staff entrance/egress that is linked to the Time and Attendance/Payroll System
  54. Make sure the light inside the wardrobe does switch off when the door is closed - a simple ON/OFF switch is a quick fix to this
  55. Consider [carefully] about moving some of your IT Services to the Cloud - make sure you fully understand the small print on the SLA (Service Level Agreement) about 'uptime', 'data ownership' and 'migration' from property based systems
  56. Make sure your room safe is bolted down to a floor or wall and cannot be easily removed
  57. Monitor the TV volume in the guest room so that it can go down very low. Some guests like to leave the TV on all night but at a very low background volume
  58. Have a very low level nightlight in the bathroom/toilet
  59. Deploy the very best cabling and network backbone that you can
  60. Allow Guests of Residential Conferences to use the same LOGIN ID and Password that they use in the Guestroom for access to the WI-FI in the Meeting Room - and don't make them pay twice
  61. Encourage Guests to communicate with your Hotel through popular Social Networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter
  62. Have an air-conditioning auto cut-off function in the Guest room if balcony doors are opened
  63. Consider using Motion/Presence detectors rather than key cards to control the energy in-room
  64. Check from time to time in-the-floor power sockets - the metal type which are supposed to lift up when the clip is flicked - most often they stick after a while having been covered with floor polish and dust
  65. Talk to your HSIA/Wi-Fi provider about 'roaming agreements' and having a pass-thru function to such membership services as Boingo and iPass
  66. Consider having a secure place where Guests can deposit their valuables and gadgets at the poolside or beach if they want to take a dip
  67. Have Wi-Fi at the poolside and Beach
  68. Expect Guests to require a lot of Bandwidth when they use the Internet service in your Hotel - they will BLOG, send/receive emails, stream videos, do voice over internet calling, post updates and pictures, as well as transfer business files - uplink speeds should be as good as download
  69. Realize that a great percentage of your guests are likely to take photos of their meals and room, and then upload them to the Internet. Give them something fun and interesting to capture - preferably with your logo - it's a free marketing opportunity
  70. Test your magnetic room-key cards to see if they de-magnetize when placed next to a mobile phone or similar device
  71. Encourage Guest contact staff to attach VCF files in emails
  72. Consider having the Valet driver put a cold bottle of water into the car when he picks it up from the Car Park and brings it back to the Hotel entrance for the owner
  73. Consider adding QR codes onto your printed materials and advertising
  74. Put your Hotel onto Skype and encourage that as a method of communication with Guests
  75. Disinfect the TV remote control with suitable chemicals
  76. Check the Mobile signal coverage in your Hotel that's its working properly in all areas - Guests use their devices more and more and need good signal coverage all over - even inside elevators and bathrooms
  77. Check your PMS that you cannot check someone into a room unless it's Vacant/Clean and quite possibly also carries an 'inspected' status
  78. Think carefully about having a MUR (make up room) light as it shows the room may be empty
  79. Have an Employee BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy
  80. Re-examine what means 'a day' in your Hotel if most international flights land or takeoff during the night. Not everyone likes being charged an extra day if realistically your day ends/begins overnight
  81. Have information where guests can buy a 3G data card, what it costs, and know how to help install them as well as how to buy top-up cards
  82. Conduct regular security checks on your network - making sure you have sufficient defenses againstexternalandinternalthreats
  83. Recycle used laser toner cartridges
  84. For internal use - print on the reverse side of used printer paper - but make sure what's on the other side is not sensitive or confidential
  85. Think about installing a 3G or 4G mobile hotspot in the Airport Limo or Shuttle Bus so the Guest can use the service to/from the airport or around town
  86. Have your IT team join such organizations as HFTP and HTNG in order that they can keep up to date with Hotel Technology. You should sponsor them to them attend various Conferences and Exhibitions [like HITEC] - and have them conduct quarterly internal briefings as to TECH trends, and explore how the business can effectively leverage off these.

DO NOT...

  1. Use Walkie Talkies in public areas without issuing staff with discreet ear pieces
  2. Deploy connectivity/AUX panels without having in-room cable kits available to the Guest
  3. Put a bedside clock that makes a ticking sound
  4. Tell Guests you have an IP phone in the Guestroom - it will be confusing to them
  5. Charge for local phone calls unless you really have to
  6. Make it difficult to use a mouse on the Guest Room desk by using one with a glass surface - put a mouse mat in the drawer and expect the Guest to take it away as a souvenir
  7. Automatically do dynamic currency conversion on credit card transactions - have the customer approve this in advance
  8. Charge exorbitant rates for printing in the business center
  9. Issue replacement room keys without first seeing a valid photo ID
  10. Allow staff to use thumb drives in work computers unless they have suitable security clearance
  11. Allow staff to personally install cloud storage services like Dropbox or SkyDrive on work computers -it's very dangerousand must be Managed
  12. Print paper reports - circulate PDF versions only
  13. Send faxes when you can attach PDFs to emails
  14. Use worn out ribbons on printers - especially Point of Sale printers in F&B outlets
  15. Assume your backup power generator will auto-start if there is a mains power failure. Test it regularly
  16. Print folios - ask the guest if you can email them
  17. Use paper registration cards - use electronic ones and get digital signature capture
  18. Underestimate how many people will want Wi-Fi access in Public areas and Meeting Rooms
  19. Install both wired and wireless Internet in your Guest Rooms when doing a new installation. Just having Wi-Fi is acceptable by most people, and will save you a lot of money
  20. Just install wireless access points in corridors and expect the signal to pass through the door - consider installing Access Points in every room for improved coverage and density
  21. Assume all guests use an iPod, iPhone or iPad - believe it or not, there are other successful products in the marketplace
  22. Put "last updated..." on your website if you don't do it frequently
  23. Display the number of visitors to your website - no one really cares, and the number may be very small
  24. Put a chair at the desk, which is difficult to pull out or is uncomfortable to sit in - even if it looks nice. Get one with wheels
  25. Limit guests on the number of devices they can connect to the Wi-Fi in the guestroom - often guests carry many more devices, especially if a couple are staying, and with kids
  26. Clutter the desk with collaterals and printed materials - make them digital and multi-lingual - e.g. in Chinese, Russian and Arabic
  27. Just believe that by putting loads of technology into your hotel that the guest experience will be enhanced or that the guest will appreciate it
  28. Place a loudspeaker in the bathroom unless it has a volume control and the sound quality is good
  29. Just rely on the technology to operate your business - it will fail and at the worst possible time. Make sure you have a contingency plan in place for ALL systems and test it periodically
  30. Change any configuration on a guest's computer unless they ABSOLUTELY agree and you have a written record of the changes made
  31. Have multiple phones in the Guest room unless your really need to - one or two should be enough
  32. Allow iPods, MP3 players or similar devices in the workplace to be connected to your computers
  33. Print anything - only have electronic versions of all your collaterals
  34. Make it complicated for guests to use your technology - they may only stay one night and have no time to learn how to use all the gadgets
  35. Overcharge for IDD calls - see if you can connect your PBX to a VOIN (Voice over Internet) service to reduce the calling costs
  36. Lend guest's headsets in the gym unless they have been pre-sterilized
  37. Allow social networking connections on workplace computers unless it's for work
  38. Have water pipes inside your computer room or data center
  39. Just have a single cooling source for your Data Center - have a backup
  40. Have so many TV channels that it's difficult for the guest to quickly access what they really want to watch and make sure when it's re-switched on, it goes back to the last channel watched and only re-sets upon check-out
  41. Put a CD/DVD/Blu-Ray player in the Guest room unless there is already a disc inside for the guest to quickly listen to or watch
  42. Operate a 1-button Call Center unless the staff who take the call are full trained to handle ALL queries and in various languages
  43. Put a 4-in-1 copier/scanner/printer/fax machine in the guestroom with just 2 or 3 sheets of paper inside for the guest to print on - include at least 20 sheets
  44. Put a Fax machine into every room - it's a waste of money! Wheel one in if the Guest really needs it
  45. Use a cloud printing service to the in-room printer you are providing - some guests are bound by company confidentiality policies not to send data outside of their network and so cannot use such services, even if they are hosted by a reputable company - just add a USB cable
  46. Have electronic curtains/drapes unless they can be opened/closed from the bed as well as via a wall switch - make sure the guest knows they are electric and don't try to pull them closed or open
  47. Put a hairdryer in the bathroom that is underpowered - and don't hide it in a drawer
  48. Put a reading lamp at the bed which is so powerful and direct that it can burn your Guest's forehead
  49. Adjust the temperature in the Guestroom if the guest sets it at a certain level. Only reset it upon check-out
  50. Use Flash on your website unless you really have to - not all popular Smartphones or Tablets can handle Flash
  51. Only put a keycard reader on one side of the elevator car if you have floor call buttons on both sides. And from time to time, check they both work
  52. Install an LCD TV in such a away that the Guest cannot access the connectivity ports and by doing so, they can directly connect their own devices for playback
  53. Create an app for your Hotel just for the sake of it - and all it does is make reservations. Let it be informative about your property and a guide to all the various services and amenities you provide. Encourage and incentivize Guests to use this an alternate channel to the OTA - ensuring its Win-Win. It will, after all, be your Shop window in the palm of someone's hand and directly reflect your brand values.

If you have any suggestions to add to the list, feel free to send them to me. I very much look forward to seeing, and catching up with many of you in Baltimore at HITEC 2012!

Pertlink Limited commenced operations on October 23rd 2000, and as IT Consultants exclusively caters to clients connected with the hospitality industry, helping them work through the maze of new technologies. Not only is Pertlink strategically placed to serve the industry from its headquarters in Hong Kong, it has been internationally recognized by numerous organizations as a global reach company helping the industry through its unique and unparalleled network of people who have vast expertise in the Hotel and IT industries. The team behind Pertlink, whose collective knowledge will be an asset to any company - will help maximize a Hotel's guest experience making it a positive one through the way technology is developed, marketed and used in the Hotel industry.

Terence Ronson

Terence Ronson is the Managing Director of Pertlink Limited. Now residing in Manila after almost two decades in Hong Kong, Terence launched his diversified hospitality career as a chef, later holding various general management positions with well-known hotels in the UK and Asia. In the mid-80s he developed his penchant for technology, and in 2000 started Pertlink Ltd., (Hong Kong) a hospitality technology consultancy, becoming as well the Technology Editor for HOTELS Asia Pacific and authoring since then numerous industry-related articles. In 2001, CNN's eBizasia program featured him for his innovative work at Rosedale on the Park Hong Kong, the first cyber boutique Hotel. It was at that point he originated the first hotel app – HOTELINMYHAND. Terence also helped Langham Place Hong Kong win many accolades for its technology deployment as well as various other well-known hotels across Southeast Asia. In China, Terence was heavily involved in establishing and delivering the IT strategy for Jumeirah Himalayas (Shanghai), Puli (Shanghai), Sofitel Wanda (Beijing), and Guoman (Shanghai). He also participated in the development of the technology vision for Disney Shanghai and Tangula Luxury Train. Terence often chairs and speaks at global industry events and sits on various advisory boards, in addition to holding a Visiting Lecturer position at Hong Kong Polytechnic. He is a CHTP (Certified Hospitality Technology Professional) and runs an active hotel technology blog.


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