Sincerely, BLLA

The Future of Boutique Hotel Technology

An Interview with Javier Segovia of Lutron Electronics Let’s begin by doing a quick overview of technology for boutique hotels. Can you give a bri...

An Interview with Javier Segovia of Lutron Electronics

Let’s begin by doing a quick overview of technology for boutique hotels. Can you give a brief synopsis of what technology you’re seeing gain traction?

With boutique hotels, technology is typically approached one of two ways:

First, there are the boutique hotels who forego technology altogether, preferring a more nostalgic or even luddite approach. I have seen one boutique hotel in New York opt for rotary dimmers, as an example, to have lighting controls that complement their mid-century modern design.

Alternatively, there are the boutique hotels who fully embrace technology to bring something special and unique to the guest experience. During the BLLA Digital Summit panel on technology, we discussed the idea of voice control, customized mobile apps, and other gadgets that many boutique hotels are taking advantage of to personalize their brand experience.

In this way, many boutique hotels are more advanced than standard hotels. Their smaller size offers an opportunity to experiment more with technology, without as much worry about scalability.

The VP Plaza España Hotel in Madrid uses a Lutron lighting control system, integrated with TV & audio controls, to seamlessly manage the sights and sounds at its Gingko Restaurant & Sky Bar.

How does technology impact the guest experience?

The benefit to technology is in how the guest feels. When you, as the guest, arrive to the room, and the room is built to accommodate you, that’s an incredible feeling. Behind the scenes, it’s well-implemented technology that knows what time of day it is, what temperature you prefer, what foods you like, what streaming services you use. When all of that information is used to personalize your experience, you feel at home, even catered to. And that’s luxury.

On the other hand, when technology is too “in your face,” it can negatively impact the guest experience. This often comes down to poor installation or integration, which can add unwanted complexity for guests. It’s also important to recognize cultural differences when it comes to technology preferences. In some Eastern countries, for example, there is a trend for technology to be flashy and more obvious – to indicate that you’re at a cutting-edge property. But that is not the same point-of-view you will find in other parts of the world.

In fact, a journalist recently stayed at a property in St. Tropez with our myRoom solution. His review said something like, “Finally! A new hotel with no technology!” Of course, our system was installed. If you know how to design and integrate it properly, you can create an experience where technology is seamlessly blended into the overall experience.

What challenges does technology solve for boutique hotels?

Boutique hotels may face operational challenges as they seek to be very efficient while simultaneously bringing that extra something special to their guests. They may also be running with a more limited staff. Technology can streamline operations and support efficiency, freeing up staff and allowing them to focus guests.

For example, when a guestroom management solution (GRMS) has integrated guest presence detection (GPD) technology, GPD can identify when a guest is in the room and when it is vacant; when vacancy is detected, an automatic notification can be sent to housekeeping, telling them it is a good time to clean the room.

Another challenge – or need, really – that technology can resolve for boutique hotels is the desire for customization and personalization. Perhaps it’s a custom guest app, with an interface that matches your hotel brand. Or perhaps it’s in the data we collected during your last stay, which tells us how you enjoyed the room and what your preferences are. Those are the details you want associated with your brand that technology can support.

Are there obstacles hotels face when implementing new technology?

My opinion is that technology is perceived as complicated – in every vertical market, hospitality included. But it’s the implementations that make it complicated, or not.

When good technology is poorly installed, it creates a bad experience. So the obstacle is really the lack of shared knowledge about how to design and implement the right technology solutions to support your business and operations goals.

As we discussed a bit before, when people think too much about the technology itself and showing it off – instead of how the technology supports the guest experience – that’s where things go wrong.

When we developed our guestroom solution, we worked very closely with a well-known hotel design leader – taking the approach that technology should be easy for the guest, easy for the staff, and with a luxury aesthetic. It wasn’t about the technology itself, but about what it enabled for the brand and the properties.

Guestroom technology, when implemented as part of an overarching guest experience strategy, can add significant value for a luxury property.

The other thing to consider is which features will achieve your desired outcome.

When I worked in the residential market, the advice I received was, just because we can do it – doesn’t mean we need to do it. With every project, you need to understand where you are, what’s useful and meaningful to you, then deliver that – with technology to support.

About Javier

Javier Segovia is the Sr. Sales Director, Global Hospitality for Lutron. An expert in the intersection of technology, luxury living, and business, Javier joined Lutron in 2002, first developing the residential market in Spain and evolving to head of global hospitality, a role that enables him to help deliver innovative solutions and service to major hotel operators and boutiques around the globe.

Javier’s dedication to client success and passion for the fine art of hospitality – combined with his worldly perspective and keen business understanding – make him an extremely valuable asset to his customers and his team. When he’s not traveling, Javier enjoys home life in Madrid with his wife and three children, and happily serves as local host and tour guide to friends and colleagues who vacation in Spain. 

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