Technology has certainly become an intrinsic part of our day-to-day lives, from the retail industry, to food and beverage outlets, and even within the health and fitness industry. It’s all around us, in varying formats, making processes more efficient.

It has refined some of our older approaches, and in the hospitality industry, this is certainly true. Technological advances are leading the way forward for the future of hotels, and with the sector now free from COVID-19 restrictions, venues are looking for ways to improve the guest experience with technology.

A staggering recent statistic has suggested that 75 percent of activities in hospitality could one day become automated — so where exactly are we heading on this journey into the future of hotels? Join Cairn Collection, owner of The Stirling Highland, and explore a whole host of innovations that are changing the face of hotel management systems.

The 21st-century check-in desk

The breadth of technology that is slowly becoming more widely available is transforming the hospitality industry

The digital age is constantly finding new ways to innovate and prove its value and worth for modern consumers, and the breadth of technology that is slowly becoming more widely available is transforming the hospitality industry.

In the past, connotations of a check-in desk were long queues and excessive pieces of paper — from room service menus to a mini catalogue of highlights of the local area. Technological innovations such as face recognition are one of the major ways that this process is changing.

Using artificial intelligence

A handful of hotels have already trialled or introduced artificial intelligence (AI) into their daily running, and it looks set to become far more mainstream by 2025. From paying the bill by using biometrics to allowing hotel managers to handle data more efficiently, AI looks set to be welcomed with the potential for it to reduce costs by 13 percent.

The entire hotel check-in process could become automated, making one of the most established parts of the hotel experience redundant — but staff could be freed up to engage with customers, allowing them to get into their rooms quicker in the meantime.

Many venues have even gone fully paperless when it comes to checking in, choosing instead to upload the process to cloud computing systems where information can be stored and viewed by connected devices.

Convenience is the key

More hotels operate their room unlocking facilities through mobile phone-connected technology, NFC

After having checked in to a hotel, guests will want to explore the room that they’ve booked. Doing so has never been easier, and the classic magstripe locks which were once the most commonly used method of accessing hotel rooms are being progressively phased out.

More and more hotels now operate their room unlocking facilities through mobile phone-connected technology, near-field communication (NFC).  This technology allows for data transfer at up to 424 kb per second, and it is enabled when connected devices come into contact with each other.

Mobile key systems

Most mobile key systems require guests to download and activate a key through the hotel’s digital app, and upon arrival, they can use the activated key to unlock the door to their hotel room. Combined with online/digital check-in services, guests can use the e-key to check in early or at a time that suits them best, knowing that they don’t have to wait around to pick up a physical key.

Small touches like this build a sense of brand familiarity for customers, as well as streamline their hotel experience, and this distinguishes them from competitors.

Hotel management systems

Hotel management systems need to account for the experience that guests have while staying at the venue

Of course, hotel management systems also need to account for the experience that guests have while staying at the venue and technology can do a lot to enhance this.

Hotels have to innovate the spaces that they are presenting to their customers and technology has become a valuable asset to help enhance customer satisfaction, as the hotel room is certainly not simply a place for rest anymore.

Voice-enabled devices

Voice-enabled devices are becoming common features in rooms, with popular models such as Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, and Amazon Echo providing guests with information on the local area — if you’re looking for the perfect backdrop to the business dinner you’re attending, just ask Alexa!

Hotels could even record and distribute their personalised voice messaging to help reinforce the brand presence into the technology.

Technology can help you attract and retain customers by offering services above and beyond what they’d usually receive

A room and then some

As the generational switch to millennials and Gen Z continues, the need for an experience has grown and, through a mixture of technology, hotels can cater to these revised consumer needs.

From setting up messaging platforms to providing a remote control that monitors absolutely everything in the room — from atmospheric mood lighting to music streaming services and more, a hotel room can be whatever the user wants, and the experience is therefore generated by the customer.

Technology doesn’t stop advancing, and there are constantly new, refined approaches to hotel management systems that have marked a stark departure from ways of the past. With guests returning after over a year of COVID-19 restrictions, competition for their business is even tougher. Technology can help you attract and retain customers by offering services above and beyond what they’d usually receive.

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What change would you like to see in security in 2022?
What change would you like to see in security in 2022?

Here’s a news flash: 2022 will be a pivotal year for the security industry. As we enter the new year, continuing change is a safe prediction for any fast-moving, technology-driven marketplace. Recent history confirms the ability of the security industry to shift and adapt to changing conditions and to provide an ever-expanding menu of technology solutions to make the world a safer place. Given that the new year will bring change, what will that change encompass? More to the point, what should it encompass? We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What is the biggest change you would like to see within the security industry in 2022?

2021’s most popular expert panel roundtable discussions
2021’s most popular expert panel roundtable discussions

Topics that dominated our website’s Expert Panel Roundtable articles in 2021 included the effects of COVID-19, the benefits of mobile access, the upcoming potential of deep learning, and the future of access control cards. Our website’s Expert Panel Roundtable discussions in 2021 reflected some of the most timely and important topics in the industry. The very most clicked-on Expert Panel Roundtable discussion in 2021 considered the positive and negative effects of COVID-19. The second most popular was trends in perimeter security technology. Smart video solutions Here is a roundup of the Top 10 Expert Panel Roundtable discussions posted in 2021, along with a ‘sound bite’ from each discussion and links back to the full articles. Thanks to everyone who contributed to Expert Panel Roundtable in 2021 (including the quotable panelists named and linked below). The pandemic has impacted security in many ways, some we are just now realising" What are the positive and negative effects of COVID-19 to security? “The pandemic has impacted security in many ways, some we are just now realising. On the negative side, integrators were limited in their ability to access customer locations, posing significant challenges to supporting customers. Innovation was also halted in many sectors – such as AI and edge computing in healthcare. However, the pandemic increased awareness regarding the need for smart solutions that can aid in these types of crises. Smart video solutions have been identified repeatedly in the media as a potential pathway to better customer experience and increased safety.” – Alexander Harlass. Reducing false alarms What are the latest trends in perimeter security technology? “What’s really important in perimeter security is the minimisation of false alarms, not simply the potential detection of what might be an unauthorised person or object. In light of that, many systems now include alarm validation that can confirm an alarm event using a camera. The utilisation of AI-based technologies can further validate the accuracy of the alarm, making it as accurate and precise as possible. I anticipate seeing more cross-technological integrations to reduce false alarms, so that personnel in an alarm center spend as little time as possible in validating an alarm.” – Leo Levit. What will be the biggest security trends in 2021? “2021 will see artificial intelligence (AI) become more mainstream. There will be increased deployment in edge devices, including cameras, thermographic cameras, radar and LIDAR sensors, entry point readers, etc. Additional algorithms will be developed, greatly expanding the use and function as video surveillance transitions from a forensic tool to real-time analytics. This increases the value of these systems and helps create ROI cases for their deployment.” – Tim Brooks. Access control solutions Investments in tools and platforms to drive digital interactions have accelerated" What will be the security industry’s biggest challenge in 2021? “The security industry is traditional in the sense that it relies heavily on face-to-face interaction to do business with customers and partners alike. COVID-19 has put a hold on in-person meetings, trade shows, etc., and this trend is likely to extend throughout 2021. Virtually recreating these personal touchpoints, while cultivating and strengthening internal and external relationships, will continue to be both a challenge and opportunity for the security industry. Investments in tools and platforms to drive digital interactions have accelerated.” – Robert Moore. What are the challenges and benefits of mobile access control? “Mobile access control solutions are an exciting innovation in a market where the day-to-day user experience hasn’t changed much in the last 20 years. One area that has clear benefits and challenges is in improving the user experience. On one hand, physical credentials are expensive and a hassle to administer; however, they work reliably, quickly, and predictably. Mobile credentials are convenient in that everyone already has a smartphone, and you don’t have to admin or carry cards; however, when you’re actually standing at the door they need to work as well or better than physical credentials, or the benefits are lost.” – Brian Lohse. Attacking critical infrastructure What are the security challenges of protecting critical infrastructure? “It seems so often we hear about a new threat or cyber-attack in the news. Because of the rapid growth in technology over the last few years, cybercriminals are getting bolder and discovering new ways to attack critical infrastructure. One of the biggest challenges boils down to the capabilities of the operating security system and whether the organisation is aware of the current risks they face. Because there are so many points of entry for cybercriminals to target within critical infrastructure, it is vital that the security solution be prepared for attacks at every level.” – Charles (Chuck) O’Leary. They are more aware when they make physical contact with doors and interfaces" Which security technologies will be useful in a post-pandemic world? “People have become more sensitised to crowds and personal space. They are more aware when they make physical contact with doors and interfaces. As the pandemic subsides, these habits will likely remain for a majority of people." "Utilising AI-based cameras to accurately monitor the number of people in a room or in a queue will enable staff to take action to improve the customer experience. For example, AI-based analytics can quickly notify security or operations when people are waiting at a door and initiate 2-way audio for touchless access.” – Aaron Saks. Central monitoring station What is the potential of deep learning in physical security and surveillance? “Deep learning, a subset of artificial intelligence, enables networks to train themselves to perform speech, voice, and image recognition tasks." In video surveillance, these networks learn to make predictions through highly repetitive exposure" "In video surveillance, these networks learn to make predictions through highly repetitive exposure to images of humans and vehicles from a camera feed. That ability is ideal for use with drones patrolling perimeters seeking anomalies or in software that significantly reduces the number of false alarms reported to central monitoring station operators. Through use, the software continues improving its accuracy.” – Brian Baker. Valuable audit trail How soon will access control cards become extinct and why? “Access control cards will go the way of the dinosaur, but they still have some life left in them. For the short term, they have plenty of utility in minimum security use cases and leave a valuable audit trail. But for companies that are more technology-centric, particularly those with high value assets, we’re seeing demand for next-generation access control, which includes increased integration with video surveillance systems and professional monitoring services.” – Sean Foley. Which security markets are embracing touchless and contactless systems? “Touchless technology is not a new trend, but contactless systems and transactions have surged since the COVID-19 pandemic. Even after the pandemic is over, it is likely public perception of what is hygienic and acceptable in public spaces will have changed. [We are] seeing an uptick in touchless access control systems in the education and flexible office space markets.” – Brooke Grigsby.

Identity and access management in 2022 - what will the future look like?
Identity and access management in 2022 - what will the future look like?

As we enter into 2022, there is still a level of uncertainty in place. It’s unclear what the future holds, as companies around the world still contend with the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote working has been encouraged by most organisations and the move to a hybrid working system has become ‘business as usual’, for the majority of businesses. Some have reduced their office space or done away with their locations altogether. Following best security practices With all this change in place, there are problems to deal with. According to research, 32.7% of IT admins say they are concerned about employees using unsecured networks to carry out that work. Alongside this, 74% of IT admins thought that remote work makes it harder for employees to follow best security practices. This need to manage security around remote work is no longer temporary. Instead, companies have to build permanent strategies around remote work and security. The coming year will also create a different landscape for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs). Here are some key predictions for next year and what to start preparing for in 2022: The reality of SMB spending around security will hit home SMBs had to undertake significant investments to adapt to remote working SMBs had to undertake significant investments to adapt to remote working, especially in comparison to their size. They had to undertake significant digital transformation projects that made it possible to deliver services remotely, during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve seen a shift in mindset for these companies, which are now more tech-focused in their approach to problem solving. According to our research, 45% of SMBs plan to increase their spending towards IT services in 2022. Around half of all organisations think their IT budgets are adequate for their needs, while 14.5% of those surveyed believe they will need more, to cover all that needs to be done. Identity management spending to support remote work For others, the COVID-19 pandemic led to over-spending, just to get ahead of things and they will spend in 2022, looking at what they should keep and what they can reduce their spending on. Areas like identity management will stay in place, as companies struggle to support remote work and security, without this in place. However, on-premise IT spending will be reduced or cut, as those solutions are not relevant for the new work model. Services that rely on on-premise IT will be cut or replaced. The device will lead the way for security We rely on our phones to work and to communicate. In 2022, they will become central to how we manage access, to all our assets and locations, IT and physical. When employees can use company devices and their own phones for work, security is more difficult. IT teams have to ensure that they’re prepared for this, by making sure that these devices can be trusted. Wide use of digital certificates and strong MFA factors Rather than requiring a separate smart card or fingerprint reader, devices can be used for access using push authentication There are multiple ways that companies can achieve this, for example - By using digital certificates to identify company devices as trusted, an agent, or strong MFA factors, like a FIDO security key or mobile push authentication. Whichever approach you choose, this can prevent unauthorised access to IT assets and applications, and these same devices can be used for authentication into physical locations too. Rather than requiring a separate smart card or fingerprint reader, devices can be used for access using push authentication. Understanding human behaviour Alongside this, it is important to understand human behaviour. Anything that introduces an extra step for authentication can lead to employees taking workarounds. To stop this, it is important to put an employee education process in place, in order to emphasize on the importance of security. The next step is to think about adopting passwordless security, to further reduce friction and increase adoption. Lastly, as devices become the starting point for security and trust, remote device management will be needed too. More companies will need to manage devices remotely, from wiping an asset remotely if it gets lost or stolen, through to de-provisioning users easily and removing their access rights, when they leave the company. Identity will be a layer cake Zero Trust approaches to security Identity management relies on being able to trust that someone is who they say they are. Zero Trust approaches to security can support this effectively, particularly when aligned with least privilege access models. In order to turn theory into practical easy-to-deploy steps, companies need to use contextual access, as part of their identity management strategy. This involves looking at the context that employees will work in and putting together the right management approach for those circumstances. For typical employee behaviour, using two factor authentication might be enough to help them work, without security getting in the way. How enterprises manage, access and store identity data There will also be a shift in how enterprises manage, access, and store that identity data over time For areas where security is more important, additional security policies can be put over the top, to ensure that only the right people have access. A step-up in authentication can be added, based on the sensitivity of resources or risk-based adaptive authentication policies might be needed. There will also be a shift in how enterprises manage, access, and store that identity data over time, so that it aligns more closely with those use cases. Identity management critical to secure assets in 2022 There are bigger conversations taking place around digital identity for citizenship, as more services move online as well. Any moves that take place in this arena will affect how businesses think about their identity management processes too, encouraging them to look at their requirements in more detail. Overall, 2022 will be the year when identity will be critical to how companies keep their assets secure and their employees productive. With employees working remotely and businesses becoming decentralised, identity strategies will have to take the same approach. This will put the emphasis on strong identity management as the starting point for all security planning.