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  • Writer's pictureFloris Vermeulen

Sharing My Hotel Tablet Experience & Addressing The Second Elephant In The Room!

Wait! What was the first elephant?

I actually covered the first pachyderm, mobile applications, in a short article over HERE.

Hoping that you read the above article and you are now aware that going for a mobile application seems futile and would only be a solution that allows you to tick the "I have introduced technology" box, you might wonder: “What about tablets?”

As much as I could agree that tablets have “higher” usage and are a more viable investment than mobile applications, I will highlight some of the reasons as to why you should still not pursue this avenue of guest-facing technology. The raised points will be based on the following:

  • A recent experience I had during a stay at a 5-star hotel in Asia that I will not name

  • Facts and data around tablets

My 5* Tablet Experience

To celebrate our marriage anniversary, my wife and I recently decided to book a room in a 5-star hotel, associated with one of the world's most prestigious hotel groups. Unsurprisingly, the hotel, its architecture and its history are incredible - it's been a landmark for almost a century.

As I walk into the very spacious and well-decorated room, I have the pleasure to see that the hotel is very well connected with little control screens by the entrance, bathrooms, and bedroom. On top of that, I see that there are 3 tablets, one on each side of the bed, and an extra one on the desk. They look like Android devices.

As soon as I turn on one of the tablets and decide to explore the apps, I realize I cannot go back to the main menu. That’s when it hits me: this tablet is not supposed to be used as a normal tablet but one that runs an application directly tied to the hotel (I shouldn't be able to see the standard Android menu below). However, the said mobile app does not seem to be properly installed.

Since I cannot go back into the main menu, I just leave this tablet behind and deem it unusable.

I then focus my attention on the second tablet. Same issue as the first one, except this time, I go straight into actual files to find what could be an installation system to make at least one tablet usable as it must be quite a useful gimmick since the hotel decided to put 3 of those in each room. Note that this isn't the user journey that was envisaged - I just like to think that I'm a little more tech-savvy than the average person who would have likely given up at this point.

After a 5-10-minute installation, it would finally give me access to… ANOTHER interface to control the room.

Essentially, I have now spent the first 15 minutes in my 5-star hotel room trying to understand what these devices were actually intended to do. I would say that this doesn't really reflect a 5-star guest experience. Was it necessary to have 3 tablets in the same room for that? Definitely not. Would simple screens do the job? Most definitely.

Having now managed to "get in" and beginning to explore the interface, I realize that they have some type of city guide on this thing, allowing me to discover places around the hotel. I find a restaurant of my liking and decide to call them directly to reserve a table. With no call-to-action button to call or book directly, I have to use the hotel phone on the side and dial the number manually. At this stage, I have interacted with 3 different pieces of equipment to make a seemingly simple request.

Following the call to guest services, I realize that I could actually chat with the concierge, so I give that a quick go. Have you ever typed on a tablet? It is one of the worst experiences, sitting somewhere between a nice laptop keyboard and an easy-to-use smartphone keypad. As a result, I abandon the idea to ever use the chat feature on this tablet again.

Luckily, as a consequence of my phone call, the restaurant is booked! Let’s head there! Oh, wait, the tablet has to stay in the room. I cannot take it with me to locate the restaurant on Google Maps, but I can also no longer refer to the dish recommendations the hotel suggests. Not the most seamless experience, so I have to revert to the old "let's take a quick photo" of this particular page on the tablet. To double down, I get the concierge to write down the address in local language on a piece of paper - Mother Nature is not doing well tonight and at this stage, I'm just too focused on the food to worry about germs on that piece of paper and such.

Now, given that we could class this whole thing as a freak accident, let's move on to actual facts about hotel tablets.

Facts & Data

At Portier Technologies, our ultimate goal and core business have always revolved around the notion to help hotels achieve 3 things:

  1. Unparalleled Guest Experience

  2. Incremental Revenue from Ancillary Services

  3. Stronger Data Insights into Guest Behavior

Let’s have a look at tablet viability in the context of the same goals.

Unparalleled Guest Experience

Again, the key factor here is usage. For guests to have a great experience with a solution, they actually have to be willing to use it.

It is critical to look at the general behavior of people accessing the internet. According to StatCounter Global Stat (2020), the internet is accessed via mobile, desktop, and tablets.

In 2014, the future for tablets looked somewhat promising, with around 6% of usage coming from the likes of iPads, while mobile rose towards the 32% mark and desktop usage steadily declined to close the year off at around 62%.

Today’s reality is harsh, but ultimately true for tablets. The initial enthusiasm never translated into anything sustainable and global tablet usage is at its lowest point in history, with the beginning of 2020 showing well under 3% worth of engagement coming from tablets.

In stark contrast to tablets, mobile has grown aggressively and overtook desktop to become the most engaging technology for those who access the internet, accounting for over 53% of the market. As a result, tablets are not just facing trouble but actual extinction, with the share of mobile forecast to grow even further.

In this respect, Travelport’s Glenville Morris makes his feelings about tablets in the travel and hospitality space very clear: “Add in further blows from the industry, like Google giving up on Android tablets, Phablets (remember them?!), driving phone sizes up so large that no one used the term “phablet” anymore, and you can see why we’re sitting here in 2020 lamenting the death of the once-great travel tablet app” (PhocusWire, 2020).

The conclusion here is simple: Why provide a solution to hotel guests that barely any people choose to use in their daily lives?

Incremental Revenue From Ancillary Services

Generating higher revenue from guests staying at your hotel has become particularly key in a challenging market with lower occupancy rates. Our Chief Revenue Officer, Mike Pope actually covered this topic HERE by sharing some of the needed strategies when it comes to revenue recovery.

In order to generate incremental revenues from guests, you first require an opportunity to Push special promotions to your guests.

According to a study published by The Express, Brits, for example, spend just three hours and 22 minutes a day in their rooms when they are on holiday. The average Brit sleep for 7.5 hours. That’s 13 hours spent outside of the hotel with no connection to the hotel or its staff.

In other words, tablets give you 3 hours and 22 minutes worth of opportunity to get your guests to look at your hotel offerings, while Portier Phones will capture 16.5 hours of their day.

Stronger Data Insights Into Guest Behavior

How do you understand and leverage on guest behavior, when the tablets are staying in the room while your guests are out exploring? You don’t.

Acta non verba! Reach out!


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