In so many ways, it is evident that the world of hospitality has been, and continues to be, transformed by technology. Recently more hotel brands are jumping on the “tech bandwagon,” providing guests with technological advances to alleviate the stress of travel. YO! founder Simon Woodroffe and I began developing the YOTEL (www.yotel.com) concept in 2002 and are proud to see it paving the way as a leader in hospitality technology.
The goal for YOTEL was to revolutionize the hotel industry by providing a new kind of experience — beautiful, functional futuristic design combined with the extras that one expects to find in a luxury hotel. YOTEL opened its first airport hotel in 2007, and has since added three more properties. As we grow as a brand it is clear that guests not only appreciate, but are excited by our tech-forward offerings, from a robot concierge to self-serve check-in kiosks. These technology-driven characteristics enhance the comfortable and innovative guest experience.
Efficient and intelligent spaces
Inspired by first class travel, we translated the language of technology, luxury airline travel and Japanese influence into small, but smart cabins, providing flexible and convenient first class hotel stays at affordable prices. Our guest experience is characterized by: motorized, moving beds and sofas to save space; air conditioning and lighting activated by motion sensors; heated towel racks; pressure-optimized rain showers; purple ambient lighting to promote relaxation; as well as techno walls with flat screen TVs, multi-power points, and iPod connectivity.
Both leisure and business travelers appreciate the complimentary robust Wi-Fi throughout all the cabins and public spaces. YOTEL’s cabins are designed for guests to give them a bigger experience in a smaller space where they can relax, refresh, connect and of course — sleep.
Airline inspired technology streamlines service
From the self-service kiosks to YOBOT, the world’s first robotic luggage concierge, YOTEL has embraced innovation. For example, at the New York City property the guest check-in process begins with an easy-to-operate, airline style check-in kiosk. The Worldline Self-Service kiosks from Atos (www.uk.atos.net) are accessible 24/7 and check-in can be completed in three steps: 1) enter your name and details; 2) enter number of nights / confirm reservation; and 3) confirm payment option. The kiosk then dispenses a cabin key, receipt and any messages the guest might have.
After checking in, guests take the elevator up to FOUR, the hub of all of the hotel’s activity, where they are immediately greeted by Mission Control, YOTEL New York’s futuristic version of a traditional hotel concierge/front desk. This fully-equipped station is manned 24 hours, seven days a week, and is the gateway for future hotel bookings, Internet stations with free printing, getting tips on local services, events and neighborhood must-see and-dos.
The revolutionary YOBOT, a towering robotic arm located in the hotel’s lobby, takes guests’ bags and stores them in bins. Using a touch screen, guests enter the number and sizes of their bags, and Yobot brings a container to the drop off area. To collect luggage, a simple bar code ticket is scanned and Yobot will retrieve the bags.
The YOTEL experience is all about technology from the minute guests arrive, transporting travelers into the future. At YOTEL, we always make sure that any use of technology adds to the guest experience and is intuitive, easy and simple to adopt. We are extremely pleased with YOTEL’s success thus far and are looking forward to the brand’s future and our exciting plans to integrate the next tranche of technological advances into the guest experience.
What was your first job?
Who inspires you?
My team, my son, my dad.
What are your hobbies?
Cycling, music, classic cars, hanging out with my son and building YOTEL.
What technologies excite you?
From a guy that used to pack 20 cassettes in his suitcase to go on holiday, mobile is the most interesting. Both from a professional and personal point of view the mobile landscape has radically shifted and will continue to shift.
Push, push, push.
What is one other job that you would like to try?
What three people would you invite to lunch?
I thought Steve Jobs, but he was vegetarian and didn’t drink. So, Norman Jay (DJ), Micky Flanagan (Comedian), Martin Sheen.
What is your favorite movie?
What is your favorite vacation spot?
Anywhere with my son, but Yellow Stone Park and Horse Riding this summer was great. Stunning scenery.