Designing a Hotel with Technology at its Heart

22nd February 2020

Throughout the last 10+ years, there has been a new type of hotel emerge. A hotel that brings forward the idea of “Affordable Luxury”. In fact, that very statement was coined by the innovative hotel chain CitizenM.

Since CitizenM burst onto the European scene in 2008/2009 with their first hotel in Amsterdam, actually, Schipol airport Amsterdam, they have grown considerably, every hotel centred around the idea of affordable luxury.

Of course, what happens when you get something so right? You get imitators. As the old saying goes, “Imitation is the highest form of flattery”. In this case, I’d say that’s very true.

As I’m sure regular readers will know by now, this is a hotel technology & travel technology blog. So what I’m certainly not here to do is call out those who are imitating the success of CitizenM. No, as I don’t think that is much use, plus you can draw your own conclusions.

No, we’re going to look at what CitizenM did so right to create this affordable luxury. By designing a hotel with technology at its heart.

A Hotel Technology & Travel Technology blog by HotelTCS. Every week we cover topics concerning Technology in the Hospitality Industry. Looking at subjects such as IPTV, HSIA, WiFi, GPON and IoT, we give you the insider info on Smart Hotels and Intelligent Hotel Deployments. Subscribe below for updates!

Hotel corridor

Designing A Hotel for Luxury with Technology

Launched by two industry veterans, CitizenM was over 3 years in the planning. However, once the first site was open, it was clear their decisions were correct.

As I mentioned before, one of the biggest focuses of CitizenM’s idea was enabling Affordable Luxury. If we’re honest, this is something many of us are looking for. The key here was how could they break the mould, the norm, and achieve this.

Delivering luxury hotels is not easy, however, it is achievable. There are many hotels out there doing it now and doing it very well. The challenge they presented themselves with was delivering that same level of luxury (or feeling) but at an affordable price.

Designing A Hotel – The Traditional Approach

They knew the traditional approach would not work for them. It was not the approach of a new brand. A brand that targeted a new age of traveller. In fact, opening at a time when the Millennial generation began travelling independently.

The full-service/luxury model is not what was required here. Butlers, footmen, and concierges were out. Team members and Hotel technology were in.

Entertainment system

Breaking the Mould in Hotel Design

It was just deploying technology for the sake of it though. Every deployment had to have its place. A clear use-case that contributed to the mantra of affordable luxury.

However, by far the most groundbreaking part of the technology deployment was the integration.

For years when designing hotel technology we have been getting systems to talk to each other. API’s (Application programming interfaces) have been used for some time to enable this. CitizenM’s approach was different. They decided to get every system to talk to just one piece of middleware.

Having the control and integration of the system handling in one place was the genius of this design. No longer waiting for multiple systems to amend API’s and develop the required integration. Now, it was centralised by design.

I’m not here to go into the in-depth technical details of the solution, just the theory. But what a theory!

Designing Hotel Technology Right

Getting the right Hotel technology blend can be a minefield. This is something HotelTCS can help with.

As well as the middleware, that enabled some of the Hotel Technology marvels, they took some steps that the guests could actually see.

The traditional front desk is gone. Team members are there, but they support you to check yourself in at terminals. The personal touch is not gone, instead it augments the technology. Let’s not forget, this is hospitality after all, and our guests expect that!

Ever checked into your room and looked for an iron and ironing board to prepare your shirts for tomorrow? You find yourself phoning down to have one sent up, or using an iron in the room that has seen better days?

It was clear neither of these approaches granted affordable luxury. The answer? Ironing rooms on each floor. Giving guests what they need, but encouraging the social aspect as well.

Male on mac and smartphone

My favourite by far was the lack of a gym. Now, before you jump to conclusions, this is not my way of avoiding a workout.

No, this illustrates CitizenM’s more abstract way of thinking. Who says you can’t work out without a gym?

Using the TV system they enabled guests to not only cast their own workout videos and podcasts to the TV for an in-room workout but also enabled workout videos on the TV for those that didn’t already have favourites!

Think Video On Demand in hotels is dead? CitizenM didn’t. They could see that guests still wanted to consume content, and made it as easy as possible, and affordable. The last time I looked, the uptake was over 2 movies per room per day. Conclusive to say the least.

They really did bring so many great ideas, the above just being a sample of my favourites. They pioneered content casting in hotels. The WiFi was always free. The Lobby became a co-working space before people even knew that’s what they wanted.

Free WiFi HSIA

So, Are you Designing a Hotel?

Hopefully, the points above give you something to think about in your hotel design. Maybe you are designing a hotel, and want to bring affordable luxury to your guests through technology too. Bringing the right team together and think outside the box.

Building technologically advanced hotels is a favourite subject of mine and one I am so passionate about, as it’s an easy area to see money wasted by very simple mistakes.

Also, if you love IoT, we’ve looked at this not once, but twice before! Read, enjoy, comment and share!

Hotel Technology Design

Here at HotelTCS, we are experts in Hotel Technology and brand standards. If you are involved in hotel construction and want to know how we can help you avoid costly mistakes, contact us now. Maybe you need someone to help you understand how to get the right Hotel Technology for your guests. HotelTCS can help.

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