Skift Take

It's clear hotels are focused on technology as a means of improving the overall hotel guest experience, but they also need to balance those investments with service and personalization to see the kind of return on investment they want to have.

Where are hotel companies and hoteliers putting their collective focus — and money — these days?

According to the most recent American Hotel & Lodging Association Lodging Survey, hotels are investing in technology. The survey of some 8,000 hotels, conducted by STR, showed hotels are making technology a priority.

Key findings include:

  • Central reservations systems have become nearly universal across chain categories
  • Use of mobile apps for hotel service is climbing, with a peak of 35 percent for the industry overall
  • 65 percent of hotels offer mobile check-in but of those hotels, the majority are in upper midscale to luxury categories
  • High speed in-room Internet plus wireless access is now an industry norm, with 98 percent of hotels saying they have it
  • Only 9 percent of hotels say they charge for in-room Internet (not Wi-Fi)
  • High-definition and/or flat-screen TVs are in almost nine out of 10 (88 percent) of U.S. hotel rooms
  • Use of social networking sites for marketing purposes dropped since 2014, which was at an all-time high of 93 percent. In 2016, that usage was at 87 percent, suggesting hotels may be using other channels outside of social media more often now.

Supporting Industry Trends

These findings seemed to support general industry trends and consumer desires.

Reliable, complimentary Wi-Fi continues to be something the majority of travelers — whether they are traveling for business or leisure — desire from hotels. The 2016 J.D. Power rankings for North American Hotel Guest Satisfaction noted that 71 percent of those surveyed ranked free Wi-Fi as most important, followed by complimentary breakfast (56 percent); free parking (61 percent), and luxurious bedding and linens (37 percent).

Additionally, a recent report from the Global Business Travel Association also noted business travelers would book a room directly with a hotel in order to receive free Wi-Fi or high-speed Internet access.

The same J.D. Power rankings also showed that hotels need to better balance their investments in technology with human interactions and to continue paying attention to social media.

Click here to read the full report.

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Tags: ahla, technology

Photo credit: An iPad plugged into a night-stand level plug at the Weekapaug Inn in Rhode Island. Free Wi-Fi is something a majority of hoteliers offer to guests today, according to a new American Hotel & Lodging Association survey. Skift

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