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Hotel In-Room Technology Trends in Southeast Asia

Posted on May 30, 2018 5:14:22 AM

Southeast Asia has remained a strong performer in hospitality and tourism, attracting 120 millions visitors. To accommodate the increasing demand, the number of hotel rooms is on the rise. According to Hotelworks 2017 hotel residences market trends report, Southeast Asia is expecting hotel room growth to 45,000 by 2020.

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One of the reasons for its robust growth is the industry’s embracement of digital innovations. Through the Internet of Things and targeted future-thinking tech, more personalized experiences are delivered with greater accessibility and creativity to aid hassle-free travel.


Let’s dive into a few of the ways that technology streamlines the complexities of the hospitality industry in Southeast Asia and why investing in these solutions yield greater personalization and customer experience, to ultimately attract more travelers, principally from China.

Putting Mobile Personalization at the Heart of the Hotel Experience

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Today, the top four hospitality industries in Southeast Asia: Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam have aggressively implemented smart room technology. At the heart of the adoption is a personalized mobile-based experience. Today’s guests are mostly digital-native millennials, and to satisfy their in-stay experiences at a new level, hotels in the region understand the need for developments in digital platforms.


Read - Why Hotels should Enhance In-room Dining with Technology

With conscientious travelers comparing prices and booking on-the-go, hotels are focused on enhancing services with the likes of state-of-the-art in-room control systems. Smart-controlled lighting and entertainment systems via customized apps entice the next-generation guest through a more digitally connected world.


“The use of mobile application generates exciting opportunities to enhance productivity, increase effectiveness and create exceptional experiences for both staff and guests.”

— Kevin Peeris, Regional Head of Business Development, Bayview International Hotels & Resorts Singapore


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With apps leading one leg of digital innovation, on the other lies smart devices that provide greater technical convenience to guests, with some going beyond the hotel room. The Southeast Asian branch of the InterContinental and Park Hotel groups have embraced these changes, allowing hotel guests free and instant access to the internet and even dedicated travel guides during their stay.


Additional features designed to uplift the guest experience include direct connection to hotel systems per room for smarter communication. For more tailored approaches, hotel marketers are expanding ways in which they can engage with hotel guests throughout their stay. More and more adaptation of software-meets-hardware, provides a more digitally-enhanced experience for travelers. With greater insight, aggregated offerings enable curation from the get-go, extending the guest experience one step further. Push notifications are an example of new developments in the hospitality space, achieving just this.


What does this mean to hotels for their business?

A focus on in-room mobile technology and revamped rooms is going to deliver a “high-tech, high-touch” guest experience, states Elaine Heng, assistant director of marketing communications at Park Hotel Group. Through owning the entire streamline of the digital customer experience, early adopters are staying ahead of the curve.


Voice AI: The Next Big Thing

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Recent research shows that 42% of voice-activated devices have quickly become essential. With the advancement of more intelligent voice assistants and an increasing number of compatible applications, consumers are compelled to adopt the next frontier of voice-based technology to a greater extent.


With shipments of Google Home and Amazon Echo speakers expected to climb more than twofold to 39 million in 2018, hotels have recognized an upsurge in consumer interest for AI-powered technology


“With Amazon Echo devices, guests may now get quick answers to many of their questions―from the hotel’s Wifi password to the hours of our restaurant and rooftop bar―without having to pick up the phone, dial and wait for a response. In the meantime, our staff spends less time on the phone and more time with our guests, focused on personalizing and enhancing their stays.”

—Amanda Parsons, General Manager, Thompson Hotels Seattle


Developments in artificial intelligence facilitate a deeper understanding of hotel guests, providing more accurate feedback with seamless interactions, as data transfers are sped up through mobile network upgrades more than ever before. On a more utilitarian level, voice assistants are assigned greater functionality within smart hotel rooms, integrating the likes of smart thermostats and sleep trackers.

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In December of 2017, Wynn Resorts became the first hotel company in the world to install Amazon’s Echo devices, powered by Alexa software, and many hotels have since joined the landscape, such as Kimpton Alexis Hotel from IHG and Thompson Hotel in Seattle.


“The market in Asia for smart speakers is still young, but I believe we will see substantial evolution over the next year to 18 months.”

—Paul Erickson, Senior Analyst, IHS Markit


In comparison to North America, the voice assistant market in Southeast Asia may be in its infancy, yet the hospitality industry can expect a strong adaptation in the future by many hotels in the region. Chinese developers are fast catching up. In September of 2017, AI labs, the voice technology arm of multinational e-commerce platform Alibaba, announced their plan to equip 100,000 hotel rooms in Asia with voice-activated assistants, starting with those owned by Marriott International.

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“This is the beginning of a new era. Powered by artificial intelligence, many things can be done by using your mouth, ears and eyes.”

—Chen Lijuan, General Manager, Alibaba AI Labs


With a future in voice-controlled hotel rooms, AI holds the potential in rewiring the infrastructure of the hospitality industry. A shift in responsibility to voice assistants can considerably reduce human labor, while improving efficacy for the guest.

Booming Chinese Fuels the Next Growth Phase in Southeast Asian Hotels

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According to Jing Travel, Southeast Asia is gearing up efforts to get a slice of the China market worth $260 billion. At the end of 2017, the New Strait Times reported six Southeast Asian cities among the top 10 most popular destinations for Chinese tourists.


“China has entered the so called ‘mass tourism era.'”

—Zhou Ying, Analyst, China Galaxy Securities


As chinese tourism in the region grows, Southeast Asian hotels are bright-eyed to tap into the rapidly growing market to entice more Chinese travelers.


While hotels like Sofitel So Singapore and Okada Manila, Philippines incorporating in-room tablets that support the Chinese language on integrated mobile applications and brand websites Chinese language; so does the InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort and Park Hotel Bangkok with in-room smartphones. With built-in travel guides and useful Chinese language-friendly apps like Google Maps, hotel guests are inclined to take the smartphones out with them on explorations.

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Southeast Asian hotels are honing in on Chinese social media sites as one of the key ways attracting travel. With 90% travel inspiration and information targeted at Chinese travelers predicted to come from social media, hotels are taking steps early, placing devices in-room to capture guests instantly.


WeChat, a social media platform used by Chinese travelers, is relied upon as their primary source of travel information. Other popular travel sites include Ctrip and Qunar. To make the most of strong online relationships, Marriott Rewards has created its own Wechat platform and teamed up with DaoDao, TripAdvisor’s official Chinese website, to provide search capabilities via the app. Through smart hospitality solutions, prime social media marketing is maximized.

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The future of in-room technology is still evolving, but it is undeniable that technology is making its way into the mainstream. With major players leading the way in hospitality technology, more and more hotel rooms, particularly in Southeast Asia will be filled with devices that are capable of delivering all-encompassing guest satisfaction. This nascent market will soon become a mainstay in the industry.


World Travel & Tourism Council (2017) Travel & Tourism Economic Impact 2017 South East Asia

Hotelworks (2017) Southeast Asia Hotel Residences Market Trends

Hotel News Now (2015) How millennials will change travel by 2020

Hospitalitynet (2017) Key Takeaways from the 2017 South East Asia Hotel Investors’ Summit

Hotel News Now (2015) The Present and Future of in-room tech

TTG Asia, Pamela Chow (2018) Smart hotels on the rise in Singapore

GeoMarketing (2017) How Voice-Activation Is Becoming The New ‘Touch’

Alpine.ai (2017) The 2017 voice report

Business Insider (2017) Hotels could be the next frontier for voice control

Hospitality Technology (2017) Amazon CTO discusses potential of Amazon Alexa in hotel rooms at AWS re:Invent

IHS Markit (2018) AI and digital assistants to surge in 2018, IHS Markit 

South China Morning Post (2017) Alibaba expands its smart speakers beyond the home as it takes on Amazon Echo

South China Morning Post (2017) Alibaba expands its smart speakers beyond the home as it takes on Amazon Echo

Jing Travel, Mason Hinsdale  (2018) Chinese outbound tourism spending decreased per trip in 2017

SCMP (2018) China’s tourist numbers to rise this year after record 4.5b trips for 2017, says China think tank

PRNewswire (2017) La Quinta launches enhanced returns loyalty program with industry-first benefits, innovations and rewards

Global Traveler, Monique Barrett (2015) Hotels catering to Chinese Travelers

Topics: Hotel Technology, in room technology

About Blog Author

William Hung, a former Marketing & Editorial Intern at Tink Labs, previously studied Global Creative Industries & Journalism at The University of Hong Kong. He is a technophile with a passion for hospitality and technology. He also likes dogs, computer games, netball, coffee, and ramen.