IRVINE, CA—The drive to provide betterhotel-guest services and increasesustainability is creating synergies betweentechnology and hospitality,Steve Arnold, president/CEO of PacificHotel Group LLC, tells GlobeSt.com. As we reported earlier this week, thefirm has implemented PressReader HotSpotat all of its hotels and resorts, including allproperties within the MeritageCollectionBacara Resort & Spa, Balboa BayResort, Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa and theMeritage Resort and Spa. The technology enablesguests to receive their news digitally and free of charge, givingthem access to more than 3,000 publications, and the capability toconnect through any device including smartphones,laptops and tablets. GlobeSt.com spoke with Arnold to discuss theintegration of technology into the hospitality sector and where hesees it leading.

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GlobeSt.com: What new role is technology playing inthe hospitality sector, and how is that role beingmanifested?

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Arnold: I think technology is going toplay a very significant role in the hospitality sector movingforward. PressReader is a great platform for guests to get newsfrom their city, country or local area right on property. It's alsoexciting from a sustainability standpoint. We have about 2,200hotel rooms companywide, and if you do the math on how many paperswe were delivering on any given day, it adds up to 550,000 papers.Many guests walk out of their hotel room and leavethe paper there unread, and it's a huge waste. We're excited aboutPressReader, but equally excited about the elimination ofhard-print paper everywhere. That's one example. We still offerlocal papers in our lobbies, but it's a fraction of what we used toput out, of course. The sustainability piece turned out to be amajor bonus in going to digital.

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There's a lot of integration coming up, some old and some new.One of the new technologies is Open Table, whichpeople use to make restaurant reservations.Uber is now directly tied to OpenTable through a business relationship, so guests can alsoreserve a car at the same time they're reserving a table. It takescare of two steps at once. This is the latest thing that'shappening that we're excited about, especially for our guests inresorts with destination restaurants in the area where they wouldtake a car.

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Another item that's starting to make its way into thehospitality sector is keyless check-in, whereby the guest'ssmartphone becomes their key. It's much like a boarding pass for aflight. Hilton has announced this, but won't implement it until theend of 2015, and we're continuing to meet with other keylessvendors, so this is about to happen within the next year. Theguest's key is sent to them electronically along with their roomnumber through a coding process. Of course, not every guest willwant that, so we will also do the traditional check-in, but thisoffers them the option of bypassing the whole check-inprocedure.

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Also, Apple just announced the newApple Pay, whereby the Apple watch will have thecapability to pay for everything you might pay for electronicallyand act as a room key in hotels. This is all new technology that wesaw at the hospitality tech shows, so it's the latest and thegreatest.

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GlobeSt.com: What do hotel guests want in terms oftechnology during their stay?

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Arnold: The main thing they want isease of access to the Internet. It's gotten betteras an industry for us over the last year or so, but it used to bewhen you checked into a hotel, you were rolling the dice to see ifyou were going to get on the Internet. Now it's much easier. Wejust rolled out a policy where all guests will have complete accessto the Internet without having to use a code or splashpages—there's no restriction. Those restrictions are normally whatcause the issue with getting online, and we're upping our bandwidthat all our hotels so slowness isn't an issue. This will apply togroups, meeting attendees and overnight guests: 100% flawlessInternet access with no issue. I really think that's what guestsare looking for, and we hotel owners and operators need to providethis for them.

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GlobeSt.com: What other guest-services trends do yousee emerging in the hospitality sector?

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Arnold: One trend we're seeing is thatcheck-in is changing. Front desks have gone from a full counterthat's chest height and blocks the guests out to more access to theguest and an open feeling. We are developing a hotel in HuntingtonBeach called Paséa Hotel & Spa, and that's what we wantthe check-in experience to be there. You still need to have aniPad or front desk to give guests a place to gowhen they check in, but now we can greet you out front with theiIPad and check you in there vs. the process of standing in line atthe front desk. It makes it more of a consumer/guest-friendlyexperience.

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From a trend standpoint, these changes are technology related.Everything from our reservation process to our concierge process isdone electronically. You can reserve your room on theWeb and we'll send you a link afterward allowingyou to book a spa treatment or a trip to Napa Valley. Guests wantto do most things online.

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Carrie Rossenfeld

Carrie Rossenfeld is a reporter for the San Diego and Orange County markets on GlobeSt.com and a contributor to Real Estate Forum. She was a trade-magazine and newsletter editor in New York City before moving to Southern California to become a freelance writer and editor for magazines, books and websites. Rossenfeld has written extensively on topics including commercial real estate, running a medical practice, intellectual-property licensing and giftware. She has edited books about profiting from real estate and has ghostwritten a book about starting a home-based business.