Whether I am traveling for business or pleasure, I am beset by a unique feeling whenever I check in for my stay at a hotel: A sense of naive excitement and wonder, even if I have frequented the same hotel chain in the past. As the elevator ascends to my floor, a series of thoughts that most would find less-than-thrilling cross my mind. “Did I get a corner unit with good natural lighting? I wonder if they’ve upgraded the clock radio’s 30-pin connectors that haven’t been relevant since 2012! I bet the uneven jet from my shower head won’t sting this time. Man, this is going to be GREAT!”
More often than not, my hopes dwindle as soon as I swipe my key – two or three times, to ensure the scanner recognizes the card – and enter my room. While customer service and exceptionally congenial personnel are still considered to be paramount in the hospitality industry, there is major room for innovation, and YOTEL, an upstart hotel chain headquartered in London, has raised the minibar for smart and technologically-advanced hotel design to new heights.
YOTEL was founded in 2007 after its founder, Simon Woodroffe, found inspiration in both Japanese capsule hotels and luxury first-class airport lounges. YOTEL’s journey began as a chain of in-airport hotels which were available for 4-hour rental periods; its first location was in London’s Gatwick Airport terminal, and has since expanded to four airport locations in Europe. Customers were intrigued by what YOTEL could do with a small amount of space; they were able to fit a luxurious and comfortable bed, a monsoon shower, a flat-screen TV with multiple USB and power ports, and a workstation (with ultra-fast WiFi, of course) in only 75 ft2. That’s about the size of your average cubicle.  
But why stop with airports? YOTEL took their expertise in efficient space allocation to the next level in 2011 when they opened their first full-service hotel location in New York. The rooms in their New York location are a bit spacier, but by being creative with application of technology, YOTEL’s leadership team has been able to do with 170 ft2 what many hotels are unable to do with 350-400 ft2, while also reducing the traditionally high overhead costs associated with the hospitality industry, with smart implementation of new and innovative technologies.  
For starters, every room comes standard with an spacious queen bed. How does YOTEL accomplish this, given that a queen bed would occupy ~21% of the floor space, while still allowing for unconstrained movement throughout your room? The answer is simple, but surprisingly unprecedented in US hotel chains; YOTEL’s SmartBeds quickly and easily turn into a comfortable couch with the touch of a button. 
How else is YOTEL using digital technology to lower the cost of your stay? Well, say goodbye to the antiquated check-in process we all know and love; YOTEL’s electronic kiosks allow you to check in in under a minute, without having to wait in line for the one front-desk agent on staff. 
But wait; I want human interaction! What if there’s an issue with my check-in? Worry not – YOTEL’s Mission Control area has a dedicated employee on call 24/7 to assist you with anything you could possibly need, including procuring extra towels, concierge services, and last-minute dry cleaning. 
Once you’ve checked out, you may want somewhere to store your luggage for the rest of the day, since your flight doesn’t leave until later in the evening. If that’s the case, YOBOT, YOTEL’s quirky luggage concierge robot, has your back. 
By reducing the need for costly human capital and efficiently allocating space at their hotels, YOTEL has been able to improve net operating margins, fit 50% more rooms per site than a competitor with equivalent quality of experience, and maintain room floor efficiency of 85%. Are you as excited as I am about YOTEL’s innovative hotel concept? Well then, get even more excited – YOTEL plans to open a property in Boston’s Seaport District in 2017. 
How could YOTEL improve and scale the quality of their experience through technology? Well, there are a number of Smart Home Tech solutions they could consider implementing, but I would be particularly excited about a partnership with Ori Systems, a robotic technology company born out of MIT’s Media Lab, the founders of which have created a groundbreaking mechatronic unit that can turn a studio apartment into a spacious one-bedroom apartment. This would allow YOTEL to offer larger suites to high-end customers, while still sticking to its core ethos of space efficiency maximization. 
There are endless improvements that could be made through technology in the hospitality space, but thus far, none have leveraged technology’s potential so elegantly as YOTEL.
Thanks for reading! This is Mike Morgan, checking out.
 YOTEL New York Website
 YOTEL’s Wikipedia Page
 YOTEL’s Development Website
 Goodbye office space? The shrinking American cubicle
 Ori Systems Website