Looking back over the past few decades, hotel room telephones, once indispensable for external and internal communication, have evolved from guest conveniences to clutter on the bedside table.
A notable trend often reported by our hotel clients is that the bulk of front desk calls now occur internally within the hotel. The days of guests making external calls from their rooms are fading, and the in-room phone is becoming primarily an emergency device. In some countries, regulations still mandate a phone in the guest room, but the reality is that this device has shifted from a revenue machine to merely a room accessory.
Soon enough, leading hotel chains may be compelled to rethink the future of in-room phones and entire phone systems on their premises. The primary concern revolves around how to introduce a solution that not only caters to present needs but also withstands the test of time.
This consideration stems from a simple fact: when the corporate headquarters gives the green light to a hotel phone system, it’s a decision that will eventually impact all their properties. The critical factor in this equation is the “later” element. What may seem like an ideal solution today must remain dependable and relevant five years down the line, as hotels navigate a rapidly evolving technological landscape.
Despite the momentum for change, hotels seem open to finding alternatives to the guest room phones. It lacks the flexibility and innovative features that contemporary guests and hoteliers seek. As technology advances, it is likely that the future phone systems in hotels will revolve around several pivotal aspects:
Guest-Hotel Communication: Firstly, messaging between staff and guests should be seamless, allowing guests to communicate with the front desk staff through text messages, whether on their own phones or through additional devices in their rooms.
Enhanced Staff Communication: Staff members should have the ability to contact each other on-the-go, facilitating a more responsive and efficient hotel operation. This includes revisiting conversations and managing team workflows with greater efficiency.
Features: In terms of features, the future phone systems in hotels should be innovative and customizable. Hotels should have the ability to trigger services, manage in-room dining, facilitate calls to other rooms, and incorporate technologies like AI and conversational intelligence.
Scalability: Scalability is another crucial factor. The hotel communication system of the future should effortlessly adapt to the changing needs of the establishment, allowing for the seamless expansion or contraction of the number of devices used as the hotel grows or shrinks.
Privacy and Data Security: As data becomes more integral to hotel operations, the privacy and security of guest information take center stage. Therefore, any future hotel phone system must prioritize measures to safeguard guest data.
In response to this communication shift, there is a growing preference for cloud-based solutions. Large hotel chains are looking to move away from on-premise phone systems to eliminate the hassle of maintenance and enhance overall efficiency.
Various approaches are emerging in the industry. Some hotels are adopting a simpler approach by placing a phone button in the room. Guests can press it to access a variety of key directories, including the operator, restaurant, and other services. Alternatively, certain hotels are embracing one-stop solutions such as Aiello Voice Assistant (AVA) that encompass different features such as automated requests, Big Data collection, or digital directory.
The future of communication in hotels stands at a crossroads. As major hotel brands contemplate the best course of action, they must carefully weigh the immediate benefits against the long-term viability of their chosen telephony solutions. With flexibility, scalability, privacy and enhanced guest communication in the spotlight, the hotel industry is on the brink of a telephony revolution. The only question that remains is when and how it will all unfold.