A Chat With Rick Cano, Director of IT at the Virgin Hotels Chicago
Gadgets and gizmos have certainly made a life of travel more comfortable, but the most exciting part is yet to come. We wanted to know, what does the future of tech hold for hospitality? To take a closer look, we sat with Rick Cano, Director of IT at The Virgin Hotels Chicago to find out.
Pack your bags. We’re headed for the future. Figuratively, that is.
HOW HAS TECH CHANGED THE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE?
Technology has certainly lightened the load for the road warrior by holding almost everything you need in the palm of your hand. Beyond the e-boarding pass feature, your device is also a communication hub, providing an instant connection to loved ones, colleagues, and better customer service.
That last one may sound a bit surprising, but social media is a massive new benefit to travelers. Companies can now have a voice and perhaps even a bit of personality. Meanwhile, travelers can use that connection to learn plenty about the attractions near their destination, explore the outside and inside through Google Maps, even spark a conversation through Twitter to inquire about services. Avid users of these platforms may even have their preferences saved which allows new mobile applications to provide catered recommendations to their unique taste.
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE FUTURE OF TECH FOR TRAVELERS?
The future is quite bright with what technology can and will bring to hospitality. For instance, our entertainment avenue is shifting from TV with cable providers to the Internet and subscription-based services. This means the guest network will be an increasingly top priority for hotel operators to ensure they have a fast and reliable network that will deliver a premium connection for all sorts of devices.
Outside of that, I feel that technology will soon start finding its way into unique areas of the hotel previously not thought of. Imagine smart linens and pillows with sensors that can rate your quality of rest through the night. This information can sync to a health-monitoring app on your device or perhaps to a hotel app that provides massage recommendation catered to your individual needs. Also, I feel that cords will be diminishing, not just for wireless communication, but also for charging each and every one of your devices. In true Virgin tradition; we cut ties why not cut cords!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PIECE OF TECH AT THE VIRGIN HOTELS?
The one piece of technology that I must say is quite impressive and perhaps under the radar is our Internet connection. Really, our Wi-Fi is so good your computer will love you! We place no limits on how fast you can connect or how many devices you can bring. If anything, our Wi-Fi experience is exclusive to all. From hotel guests to restaurant patrons, we provide the ability for everyone to talk, text, and tweet their hearts out. We feel that’s just the way it should be.
IS THERE A PIECE OF TECH YOU’RE DYING TO GET YOUR HANDS ON?
I thoroughly enjoy sport activities in the great outdoors, and being able to record some of my adventures has been a huge challenge. However, this year a company called Airdog is releasing a drone that they claim will follow each of your action stunts through a wireless connected wristband. The Airdog drone can be equipped with multiple GoPro cameras. The tracking on the device is completely autonomous, but you can still tweak the angle or height to obtain the best footage. Drones and this particular piece of technology will certainly be around for the long run as more and more possibilities arise.