Meetings, Events and Hospitality Industry Spotlight: Staying Current with Technology

It was earlier this month that Starwood announced that they were introducing smart locks, known as the SPG Keyless program, to some of their key properties. This will allow guests with the corresponding SPG app on their Smartphone to gain access to their hotel room without stopping by the front desk to check in and get a physical key. This new technology was spurred by the loss rate of the current plastic room keys and to accommodate the demands of time deprived individuals.

Starwood has completed pilot testing of this program and these Bluetooth locks will be available in ten of its hotels this year, before rolling out to more in early 2015. Starwood has stated that this program is “the hospitality industry’s first truly mobile and keyless entry system”.

Over the past few years, the meetings, events and hospitality industries have seen key players adopting innovative technologies to stay current. Last month we shared an article highlighting the large number of participants and planners that see a need for social media and event apps to have a presence in meetings and events. Examples of these innovations include apps that connect the audience members’ smartphones to the room’s sound system.  This tool allows each person to have a microphone in his or her phone for a more engaged Q&A session.  Additions to the Google Calendar app that allows you to track events, flights and dinner reservations in real time and meeting manager apps that allow documents to be shared with all connected devices are a few of the more popular trends.

Along with these innovations, we have seen these industries adopting mainstream technologies that have been previously used elsewhere and now adjusted specifically to enhance attendee and guest experiences.

It is not uncommon for planners to source gifts for attendees that reflect the latest and greatest gadget. These include items such as the Selfie Stick that give people the added length in their arm to capture the perfect selfie. While participants are generally excited to receive these fun gifts, they can also enhance event and help with the “viral” effect. A gift that encourages a guest to take, share and tag photos of themselves while in attendance results in free, or relatively free, publicity. This item and these photos can then go a step further by becoming interactive with the event on a continuously updating Social Wall.

Finally, by embracing technology Meeting Planners open up the opportunity to collect data. This trend is useful to planners if they know how to turn the information into insights through analysis and partnership with their Marketing departments to enhance their programs year after year. The bigger the data set, the longer and more expensive it can be to reveal patterns, trends and associations relating to participant behavior and interactions. The payoff can be extremely beneficial however and make the cost for the learnings worthwhile.

While we are coming towards the tail end of 2014, we are sure that we will see the meetings, events and hospitality industries continue towards technologies and innovations that enhance the experience for attendees and guests but also allow for the planners to receive the benefits of its “shareability” and the insights that can be gained through big data.

To learn more about the changes to expect from these industries and expected trends of 2015, please call us at 949.476.2788 or email us at jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Stephanie Thomas

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

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