Successful Tech Strategies for Tackling Evolving Guest Expectations in the Hospitality Industry

Elaine Shuck

By: Elaine Shuck, Solutions Marketing Manager, Global Hospitality Team, Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company

Connectivity expectations in the hospitality industry have accelerated from simply providing mobile connectivity to leveraging wireless and wired network capabilities to make experiences increasingly home-like, while simultaneously improving operations and profitability.

With a range of innovations to select from, we foresee that the following three technology trends will headline your IT to-do lists — regardless of your brand’s size or type.

Trend #1: Know Your Guests Better Than Ever Before

Delivering home-like experiences starts with knowing even more about your guests than before. This requires gathering and leveraging a range of data and analytics for both individuals and in the aggregate. To do so, hospitality providers are focusing on the following:

  • Enable frictionless Wi-Fi access and enhance data collection. The first step to knowing your guests is ensuring they are on your network. By using a technology called Passpoint, your existing loyalty guests can transition automatically from their provider’s cellular network to your wireless network. Guests will enjoy the ease of connectivity and you’ll gain capabilities for immediately providing personalized offers. With data gathered at the point of entry, rather than after a guest initiates a connection, you gain new insights on traffic patterns, enabling you to position digital or other signage, offer related items or discounts, and tweak infrastructure as needed to deliver the best connectivity experience.
  • Get personal by adopting a proven technology ecosystem. Truly personalizing guest experiences requires making sense of collected data quickly and responding accordingly. That’s why simply deploying a specific Wi-Fi solution is no longer enough. You need to also evaluate Wi-Fi solutions for offering proven technology ecosystem partnerships that help you turn your networking infrastructure into a powerful personalization platform.

For example, an ecosystem partner can automatically gather data from multiple sources, such as access points, people counters and POS systems, turn it into insights about how people behave, and enable you to engage with guests based on their preferences or the profile you’ve established.

Or, perhaps you’re a cruise line – where terrestrial backhauls are absent when your ships are at sea – and want to utilize location technology to offer guests app-based wayfinding or give your staff the ability to track equipment and luggage in real time. In this case, you need an ecosystem partner that tightly integrates location data from your Wi-Fi gear with a vessel’s on-premise positioning and proximity marketing platform rather than the typical cloud-based service.

Trend #2: Morph Your Wi-Fi Infrastructure into a Robust IoT Platform

Advanced Wi-Fi 6 solutions pack so much intelligence into each access point that industry leaders are now approaching their wireless infrastructure as an IoT platform, capable of enhancing guest experiences and operational efficiencies.

  • Deploy one platform that speaks many languages. Investing in an innovative Wi-Fi 6 solution that supports several protocols, such as Bluetooth and Zigbee as well as Wi-Fi, eliminates the need to deploy a separate overlay network. The most comprehensive solutions offers access points with a USB port, allowing you to plug in a dongle if another protocol is needed. Multi-protocol capabilities can enable better integration with app-enabled services, like automatic door locks and environmental controls. As a result, guests experience a seamless journey that begins with selecting their desired room and personalizing their environment prior to arrival and then walking directly into a personalized space, just like at home.

Go greener with energy saving features. Another hallmark of a robust IoT platform is energy efficiency. Such solutions supply the capability for automatic power reduction, where access points put themselves to “sleep” when utilization subsides and “wake” when demand returns. This offers significant savings to anyone with large conference areas, dining rooms or any high-density location where traffic varies over time.

Boost staff safety and operational effectiveness. Improved operational effectiveness, including a staff that feels safer, also contributes to a home-like experience. That’s why hospitality IT departments are adopting location-enabled tools, such as panic buttons for hotel staff that can trigger a trace and report on an individual, even when he or she is on the move. For day-to-day effectiveness, these same solutions can also support trackers to help staff keep tabs on inventory, such as those often-elusive luggage carts, or even monitor a vendor’s staff members who are scattered throughout your property.

Significantly improve everyone’s physical security. In the wake of high-profile adverse events, your guests expect more advanced physical security systems. Established partnerships with leading IoT providers help ensure joint solutions are fully tested and interoperable, improving guest and associate safety from guest rooms to back-of-office. For instance, emergency response solutions can leverage your wireless IoT platform, giving first responders and security staff split-second situational awareness into an entire property. This includes locating and monitoring affected areas, viewing threat entry and exit points, time-stamping incident progress and conducting real-time communication between staff, responders, on-site contractors and guests.

Trend #3: Manage Infrastructure at Far-Flung Locations Centrally and Securely

At remote locations, where on-site IT staff is limited, it’s important for corporate IT departments to feel confident with network and application performance at such facilities, as poor guest experiences can damage loyalty and the brand. The maturing of software-defined branch networking gives you the option to centralize worldwide infrastructure deployments to enable secure, simplified branch connectivity at scale. New innovations include capabilities that support a Zero Trust security model at remote locations throughout your footprint and SD-WAN orchestration features that deliver unified SD-Branch management and secure connectivity for cloud workloads. Also, for those using a leading cloud platform provider, adopting an SD-Branch solution that offers proven cloud platform integration capabilities can maximize benefits.

Regardless of how you begin addressing the trends and strategies we’ve discussed, it’s critical for you to advance your experiences to match evolving guest expectations. Doing so also improves employee satisfaction and retention, making innovation a win-win for your bottom line.


Key Business IT Priorities Needed to Embrace Opportunities at the Edge

By: Morten Illum, VP EMEA, HPE Aruba

Organisations across every industry sector are currently experiencing change on an unprecedented scale as they look to digitally transform operations, through the implementation of digital devices, smart technologies, and an ever-expanding network, in the search for a competitive advantage. However, in order to leverage and evolve how we use data collected though digital transformation, it’s increasingly clear every business should be looking to the edge of their network. Where data and processing power were once concentrated in the back-office, now they live at the Edge, near the people who are using it – as both employees and customers.

A book, ‘Opportunity at the Edge’ from Fast Future, in collaboration with Aruba, demonstrates that Edge technologies have the potential to overhaul business models, transform user experiences, and even create entirely new industries.

Edge computing is defined as products that facilitate data processing at or near the source of data generation, delivers far speedier results than traditional architectures. At the Edge, enterprises can deploy technology, from the mobiles that customers use to connect to service, to the sensors that can track activity, and the Artificial Intelligence (AI) that can analyse the data collected in real time, to create user experiences that are faster, more dynamic and personalised to individual needs. Edge computing technologies –– This makes it possible for every organisation to provide a radically improved level of service.

According to Gartner, edge computing will be a necessary requirement for all digital businesses by 2022. But with business and technical hurdles to overcome, how can CIOs manage the business strategy of implementing their network at the edge? With potentially trillions of dollars being invested in the hope of generating huge economic returns, the argument for paying attention to the Edge opportunity is clear and the window for learning and action is narrowing.


In order to truly embrace the Edge, you have to start at the top. Senior-level management must develop a deep understanding of the shifts taking place in the marketplace, and the opportunities and challenges posed by adopting the edge as a cornerstone of business strategy. What’s more, leaders need to understand how the technologies will enable their business to create these new opportunities and recognising that it transcends the realm of IT, opening up new avenues of business. For instance, in the hospitality sector, Edge solutions can help create more personalised experiences for guests. Interaction between the guest’s intelligent assistant and the hotel can ensure that the mini-bar is stocked only with what is in their approved diet, and digital restaurant menus can automatically update using the same information, such as removing any high sugar content dishes. But with change comes challenge – the c-suite needs to have a full understanding of the challenges when making the transition and learn from other companies who have embarked on both successful and failed digital transformation efforts.

In order to succeed, managers need to prioritise objectives, ensuring that both IT and wider business resources are not spread too thinly across multiple projects. Senior leadership’s key role will be to provide the resources and direction to ensure projects stay focused on their goals and can deliver meaningful results. Stakeholder engagement is critical here – the scale of the opportunity, the size of the transformation, and the commercial risks of inaction need to be communicated clearly to critical stakeholders from employees and managers to shareholders and the board.

Develop and Evolve the Business Case

From the outset, it is important to understand that the business case for deploying edge technologies is likely to evolve over time. While assumptions will need to be made at the start of the process, in order to give the project direction, this will likely change and evolve once businesses gain more practical experience implementing edge-based solutions and are in a better place to understand the true benefits for customers and the organisation.

The key factor in evolving business cases will be responding to feedback from the end user or employees. While enterprises may have to adjust the solution as they hit technological barriers or come up against an unwillingness to invest from senior stakeholders, the biggest success factor in delivering on the business case will be understanding and responding to any adverse consumer and employee reactions over how these technologies might be used and how they might impact personal privacy. Trust and transparency are going to be key to implementation.

Security and Risk Management

As with any large-scale transformation, adopting edge-based strategies has inherent security challenges and risks, and many have raised concerns about the potential invasion of privacy and misuse of customer data. Operationally, the critical risk here is not investing enough in mind-set change, digital literacy across the business, and the capability of IT to lead and deliver edge strategies.

According to Fast Future’s book, the most voted for security fear is that Edge solutions could potentially create thousands of points of risk exposure across the network for hackers to take advantage of (82%). Every enterprise that moves towards the Edge must act to pre-empt the security threats inherent to a network newly flooded with connected devices. Fundamental to these opportunities is the need for robust, centrally-managed network infrastructure – one that provides visibility and control in an increasingly complex, and potentially vulnerable, enterprise environment. Enterprises must also work on the basis of an open technology ecosystem that leaves them with the room to adapt and evolve over time, as priorities change. Businesses will have to show stakeholders that the benefits of edge technologies far outweigh any privacy fears, and that any data captured will only be used to evolve and improve their experiences.

It’s clear that, if implemented correctly, Edge is going to be key to evolving businesses and getting a digital advantage over competitors. fast becoming the single most important trend for enterprises in the coming years, which will be able to contend with the quickly evolving expectations of consumers for more seamless, customised and on-demand services. But in order to implement these solutions effectively, enterprises must take heed of both the benefits and challenges such an extensive implementation may cause and pre-empt them ahead of time. Companies need to focus not just on installing technology, but upgrading the institutional mindset towards a more experimental approach, and improving digital literacy across the board

Those that lay the foundation now from a technical and structural standpoint, will be best placed to take advantage of the Edge potential.