Next-Gen Hotels Go High-Tech & Interactive to Enhance Visibility

By Robert B. Hill, General Manager, InterContinental Miami | March 25, 2013

Today’s traveler is ever-discerning, seeking not only the latest in amenities and luxuries, but a full-blown sophisticated experience from entry to departure.  In this vein, hoteliers face a new set of challenges – and opportunities – to embrace innovation and emerging technologies to enhance visibility for their properties, transform the guest experience and create a new niche within the hospitality market. 
 
With new technologies in lighting and design, properties can transform a skyline and be seen from miles away.  Buildings from around the world from Brussels and Barcelona to Singapore and Dubai are tapping into this trend to stand out from the crowd, make a statement and redefine the character of the city in which they stand.  Even one of the most famous towers in the world - the Empire State Building –was recently retrofitted with a new exterior lighting system that allows the tower to change its colors instantly, programming them to coincide with the presidential election results or even match to the rhythm of a Jay-Z song. 
 
Hoteliers can use such technologies to enhance visibility and guest experience even before they set foot inside the property.  Once they enter, guests can be greeted by a lobby that offers unique experiences through interactive technology and helps capture the pulse of the city in which they operate – be it through video walls that tell a story, touch screen tablets that offer a city guide, or a “must see” list of top cultural attractions and sporting events. 
 
Going beyond industry tech standards
In-room upgrades like HDTV, Wi-Fi and smart device docking stations are now industry standard.   Yet using technology to transform the complete guest experience is still not the norm.  To do so, ownership must have a vision to push the envelope with upgrades that start from point of entry and beyond.
Such was the intention of Strategic Hotels & Resorts and the InterContinental Miami.  With Miami’s emergence as an international hub for business and leisure travel in full swing, there was no better time to invest in its future. 

Strategic Hotels & Resorts rolled out a $30 million capital improvement project at the InterContinental Miami that is infusing new energy into the iconic property, enhancing the customer experience, and adding vibrant color to the Miami skyline.
 
The fresh redesign focused on merging art and technology, in the form of two exterior LED Digital Canvases 19-stories tall that can be seen from miles across downtown Miami, Biscayne Bay and the PortMiami; a renovated porte-cochere with customizable lighting and sound; an exterior Time Square-style LED marquee with video and new media capabilities; and an interactive lobby.
 
The lobby boasts small pods, each with personalized lights, music, LCD screens showcasing art, and touchscreen coffee tables with embedded oversized Microsoft Surface tablets, known as the “Digital Concierges,” which help create unique experiences for guests.  They can look up hotel services, restaurant and bar menus, review a map of Miami, gather preset information on arts and cultural events and top sports and entertainment venues, as well as plan tours and much more. 
 
The lobby also boasts an expansive video wall, encompassing the entire back wall of the registration area, which displays a live feed of downtown Miami.  A second video wall hangs just outside the lobby elevators, with the capability to showcase video, stills or a live feed of Biscayne Bay.
 
The hotel is creating a niche in the industry by using all its new media installations to support conferences, events and large groups - from running short films on 14 LCDs in the lobby, to changing the LED lighting scheme of the Porte Cochere in support of a team or an organization to creating personalized content on its two 19-story LED Digital Canvasesthat shine over Miami.
 
All hotels must continue to invest in and maintain what have become recognized as the “basics” – high-speed internet, premium business solutions, high-tech meeting capabilities, easy online booking, etc.  But there also exists a niche whereby hotels can use technology to take it a step further and enrich the guest experience through interactivity and a symphony of sights and sounds that not only helps advance the hotel’s brand, but the city in which it stands. Together, a city and hotel brand can do far more than coexist. They can help create a destination. 

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