Hospitality and the Concept of “Building Intelligence”

It’s a truism of the modern world: Broadband, high-speed internet connectivity has gone from “nice to have” to “must have” to something much more elemental. It’s now a utility, a foundational expectation in the places we live, work, and relax. Like electricity, hot and cold running water, and HVAC, we only pay attention to its existence when it isn’t working.

With that connectivity comes a world of experiences and ecosystems — and the devices that make up those ecosystems can range from the elegant and intuitive to the clunky and gimmicky. Those responsible for the smooth operation of a luxury hospitality concern, of course, demand the former. 

The need for tech that worked — in an effortless way for any user — was magnified and accelerated by the pandemic, and we’re still feeling the effects of that sudden shift in thinking.

The Connected Generation

Technology took on a huge new relevance in the face of the lockdowns. As hybrid work — with its mix of remote and in-person staff — became the norm, the hotel industry had to quickly adapt to meet the needs of the modern traveler in a post-pandemic landscape. 

But there’s another challenge for the modern hospitality industry: We’re the most connected generation of people that has ever existed. We have immediate access to the experiences and reviews of others. As a result, the expectations of a quality experience have never been higher — for guests and operators alike.

It’s time for a new approach to the technology utilized by the hospitality industry, to create solutions that offer a better experience for the guest as well as a better management platform for the operator. Crestron is in a unique position to provide both.

Solutions for Guests and Operators

Guests have an evolving set of expectations when it comes to the hotel experience — and the technology that drives it. In addition to presuming that hospitality spaces will be outfitted with luxurious, intuitive interfaces, from switches to door access and media controls, there’s a growing demand for more complex solutions. As “WFH” now means “work from hotel” in addition to “work from home,” there’s a need for more “bring your own device” (BYOD) integration with hotel rooms — and other spaces. Is the in-room Wi-Fi® communications robust and easy to access? Are conference and meeting rooms set up to allow guest presentations if need be?

Technology that helps bring a sense of wellness throughout the hotel experience is also extremely beneficial. Spa-like room amenities, air filtration and purification, sensors that “understand” that lights need not pop on at 100% in the middle of the night for a trip to the bathroom — big and small, thoughtful elements like these contribute to the luxury experience. And even with the pandemic behind us, some guests will still demand contactless booking and check-in.

For hotel management, the right system can provide more efficient operational processes, manage energy savings, and control environments automatically — for example, think of shading that lowers during the heat of a summer’s day when the sensors indicate the room’s not occupied. It’s just one way to save cooling energy while improving the guest experience, keeping the room at a perfect temp when the guest returns.

The Solution: Building Intelligence

So how do we approach this new era? The traditional approach was to focus solely on the guest — it was all about the one-to-one interaction between the hotelier and the guest that created the perfect stay. The new approach adopts the environment, the building fabric, the surroundings — everything we see, touch, and hear — as part of the creation of the experience. The focus is on helping the guest use all of their senses to enhance the experience within the spaces they pass through. 

The key to this is building intelligence: that is, understanding the makeup of the building and making the building work for both the operator and the guest. It’s something of a paradigm shift. Having a truly integrated building will allow the operator to make the building work for them. For example, they may control and schedule the spaces the guests move through with audio scenes, mood and circadian rhythm lighting, and digital artwork that complements lush interiors. Coupling all of this with intelligent control of the building services can help the guest achieve a state of elegant well-being in all the spaces of the hotel, and not just the guest room. 

The Design Aspect

There’s a critical element in all this, however — it’s a rule that architects and designers have followed for decades when working with HVAC contractors: The infrastructure of the system cannot interfere with the aesthetic of the space. The interaction with the system by the end-user should be so frictionless as to be nearly invisible — it’s one of the reasons the smart thermostat became such an immediate hit.

It’s why Crestron always strives to make its hospitality solutions as elegant and effortless as the systems we install in the most luxurious homes. Ultimately, a hotel is not just a place you occupy when you visit — it should complement your experience and become an integral part of the memory of your stay, leaving you with the desire to return again and again. 

Crestron strives to push the boundaries of its hardware solutions to allow the technological pathways in software that can drive these new frontiers for intelligent buildings and spaces. And we’re just getting started: From guestroom management suites for the hospitality industry to the potential of deep integrations with human behavioral algorithms for healthcare, the future is limitless. By optimizing our newest range of virtual control platforms, we are the pioneers in an evolution of technology that is driven by the needs of a new generation of travelers.