Is the Hotel Alarm Clock Dying? - Part 1

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PART 1: Do Hotels Need Alarm Clocks?

In part 1 of 3 we discuss the core functions of the Alarm Clock (The Alarm and the Clock) and if it’s still a worthwhile investment for hotels.   

It’s the year 2018. Nearly 80% of Americans own a smartphone and most of those that don’t have a cell phone of some kind. With the ability to do pretty much anything in the palm of your hand it’s time to ask - Do hotels need alarm clocks?

I don’t personally use an alarm clock when traveling, in fact I don’t even use the alarm on my bedside clock at home.

I asked around and while it’s mixed as to who uses their alarm clock at home, my friends and family all agreed they never use the alarm clock in a hotel. Like me, they are more familiar with the alarm on their phone and just use that.

We did some more formal research, and that seems to be the consensus with one study citing that “only 18% of guests trust the hotel alarm clock”.  In fact one hotelier was quoted as saying “The Alarm Clock is one in-room amenity that should go the way of the dinosaur.”

This way of thinking is partially changing tech habits and partially a design failure, but we’ll touch on both of these later in the series.

The Alarm Clock is one in-room amenity that should go the way of the dinosaur.
— Washington Post

But personal use and studies aside, there are some guests that rely on and expect there to be an alarm available, so hoteliers have to be prepared. Some properties have experimented with offering alarm clocks on-demand at the front desk for guests who want it. However, it makes extra work for the staff and it’s frustrating for guests who are used to seeing and setting the alarm at their convenience and not waiting for one to be delivered.

Getting rid of the alarm may not phase the majority of hotel guests, but there are risks associated with removing a nightstand mainstay - especially when the alarm only covers half the conversation.

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What Time Is It?

Taking a step back from debate over the usefulness of the alarm function, it’s not only an alarm - it’s an alarm “clock”. And that clock functionality maybe the key. Yes, people have their phone in their pocket and could take it out and turn it on to see the time.

Of course there’s a multitude of other options for figuring out the time, such as checking your watch, turning on the TV, or calling the front desk.  But I think we all can agree that when you want to know the time in a hotel, the most convenient way is to simply glance at the nightstand clock.

And that’s even more true in the middle of the night or in the morning. We’ve all woken a little disoriented in a hotel room not sure of the time (especially when traveling to a new time zone and even more so internationally). What’s the first thing you instinctively do? Take a glance at the clock on nightstand to check the time.

So is the hotel alarm clock dying? While the usefulness of the alarm is questionable, time’s not up for the clock.


This was Part 1 of a 3 part series. In Part 2 we’ll discuss integration of other nightstand technologies into the alarm clock, and the shift in focus to more modern designs. In part 3 we’ll discuss future opportunities to evolve the alarm clock to make it one of the most important engagement points for guests.