By Robert Holland, BHA Chief Technology Adviser
I’ve been a bit of a late bloomer where it comes to technology. I had a Dragon 32 when my classmates were using BBC B’s and stuck with my Nokia when the rest of the world were adopting iPhones. Now my passion is very much about looking at how technology can enhance hospitality whilst maintaining the relationship with the customer. I often look at a gadget or app in general use and ask how it might be adapted to our industry.
Recently, I was introduced to a new app called what3words. Now hotels are not logistics companies or autonomous vehicles, but how accurate is a postcode? Especially when you are staying in a shepherds hut on a country house estate. I recently went to a property in the Cotswolds and parked up in one of the carparks as directed by my SatNav, only to then have to walk ½ mile to my appointment in the lounge of another building within the grounds. Fortunately it wasn’t raining. At an event last year, I made many appointments with people I’d not met before and looking for them in a crowded exhibition hall would have been much easier if I could have narrowed them down to a smaller location.
So rather than being told that room 407 is on the 4th Floor and then having to follow small arrows and room number directions along a narrow corridor in a non purpose built hotel in the centre of Oxford, wouldn’t it be great if we could tell our guests to put the room address in our phone app and follow it to the door. It will not be long before we will be using our phones to open our bedroom doors so even more reason to adopt this kind of technology now.
what3words have mapped the globe with 57 trillion 3m² addresses using a random combination of 3 words in 22 different languages (and counting). With 75% of the globe not covered by a postcode and a GPS coordinate impossible to remember and easy to get wrong, this new way of identifying a location is increasingly being used by businesses that depend on the accuracy of an address. Hospitality providers can adopt their own addresses free of charge to help direct their guests to bedrooms, tree houses, yurts or wedding marquees. The what3words system is fixed and will never change. So a 3 word address today will still be the same in 10 years’ time. The square size of 3m x 3m is consistent across the globe, eliminating the need to switch between addressing formats or coordinate systems based on a country or industry sector. Watch https://vimeo.com/193725131 to find out more.
Hospitality needs to react to changes in order to remain current. Even those of us who like to promote the lack of Wifi connectivity and escapism offered by our properties wouldn’t dream of not having a website when more and more of our customers are shopping for accommodations online. Gone are the days when we would use a compass and ordnance survey map to find our destination, unless we are completing our Duke of Edinburgh’s award in the Brecon Beacons.