How the industry has changed: the first technological breakthroughs in the history of hospitality

How the industry has changed: the first technological breakthroughs in the history of hospitality

Modern technology has changed the world - it's a fact. Our industry is no exception. At all times, technological solutions have had a huge impact on both guests and staff and hotel owners.

We have been developing IT products for hotels for more than 10 years, creating new ones or modernizing existing ones so that hotels can provide the required level of service to modern guests. That is why we so often talk about the innovations of the future, hotel solutions, explain their importance and advantages.
But it became interesting to us, what was the starting point for the development of hotel IT? What solutions emerged and what impact did they have on the modern hotel world? Everything we learned, in order:

One of the first technological introductions came in 1894 when the Netherland Hotel in New York City introduced a front desk phone that required an operator. Around 1927, radios appeared in hotel rooms. And only by 1984, Teledex produced the first phones specifically for the hotel business.

The history of hotel automation dates back to the middle of the last century, when Westin created the first booking system in 1947. Prior to the 1940s, reservations could be made by mail, telegram, or telephone, and data was recorded using traditional pen and paper. But in 1947, Westin created the first hotel reservation system, Hoteltype, to instantly confirm requests. About a decade later, Sheraton improved upon the Westin system by introducing the first automated electronic booking system. In the late 60s, hotels began to realize the scope and possibilities of electronic distribution and began to develop their own system, later known as the Property Management System (PMS). Only in the late 1980s and early 90s did the traditional hotel PMS system appear, which we have been successfully using to this day.

The real breakthrough in the industry came in the 1960s, when the German company Siegas introduced the first minibar. Despite the high markup, guests enjoyed the snacks and drinks offered. In the 1970s, the Hilton Hong Kong decided (as an experiment) to fill its minibar with alcohol. In just one night, additional sales increased by 500%, and other hotels began to follow suit.

In 1974, the famous Norwegian inventor Thor Sernes, who worked at the factory, heard a story about a woman being attacked in her hotel room. This led to the emergence of traditional hotel castles.

In 1975, he launched a re-coded key lock, in which each new hotel guest could receive their own unique key, formed by a pattern of 32 holes in a plastic card. This invention is still used in the security system of hotels around the world under the VingCard brand. 32 holes in the key gave out 4.2 billion combinations, exactly the same number as the inhabitants of the Earth at that time. This locking system has been patented in 29 countries.

The industry was revolutionized by the advent of the Internet, which became widespread in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In 1995, Holiday Inn became the first chain to offer online booking. The hospitality industry has also adapted to the rise of smartphones in the late 2000s and early 2010s. Hotel chains began to realize the importance of technology in the hospitality industry and began to use guest mobile applications, and later all other modern and technological products.

It's hard to imagine a time without phones and TVs today, but each of these advances was made possible by industry leaders who understood the importance of embracing and adapting to new technologies.

31 July 2023