10 Technology Trends For Ongoing Success in Hospitality
The hospitality industry is becoming highly competitive due to COVID-19 with customer requirements and expectations continually and a push to provide a safe and healthy environment. The industry has seen a significant hit from the economic repercussions of COVID as illustrated below.
- Airports and air navigation service providers reported a loss of $115 billion and $13 billion, respectively. In the U.S alone., the six largest airlines lost $35 billion in 2020.1
- A decline of 84.6% in U.S. hotels’ gross operating profit per available room was reported.2
- About 2.5 million restaurant jobs vanished in 2020.3
Even though vaccinations are increasing across the globe, people are skeptical to travel, dine out and stay at hotels. They are more attracted to the spaces that ensure their safety and make hygiene a priority.
To survive this season, hoteliers are leveraging smart devices and mobile applications, focusing more on avoiding direct contact and curbing the spread of the virus. According to surveys, even in the pre-COVID era, 72% of guests were likely to return to a hotel if it had the tech-led services they expect.4
Shifting to digital solutions will not just optimize the business and boost income for the industry, but also open up new opportunities for further development. Businesses that do not adapt are sure to leave behind.
Here is the list of top trends for the hospitality industry to stay ahead:
- Smart Keys
Though plastic cards were a brilliant alternative for the metal keys (reliable & cheap), they were more susceptible to the risk of cyberhacking and demagnetizing. Additionally, these cards need to be discarded with care increasing disposal costs for hotels. With the need for touchless services, major hotel chains are leveraging the cloud to implement keyless entry using smart keys aka mobile keys.
Customers can directly check in and check-out through mobile applications without having to wait for plastic keycards. This offers a great deal of personalization to customers, sustainability improves customer experience, and saves massive operating costs for hotels directly affecting bottom-line revenue.
- Automated Check-ins
Another issue with check-ins is uploading customer data into the management systems. With mobile applications, the data is automatically transferred to the managers to complete the check-in process and provide a hassle-free experience to the guests. Automated check-ins are one of the must-have features in the times of COVID-19 as it minimizes the chances of contact between the staff and clients, reducing the risk of getting infected.
- Online booking
Surveys show that around 48% of smartphone users in the U.S are comfortable researching, booking, and planning their entire trip to a new travel destination using only a mobile device.5 Online booking not only makes the accommodation information accessible but also transparent to the customers. The hotel staff can efficiently track and manage information and help their guest select facilities that best matches their taste, interest, and convenience.
- Enhanced back-office functions
Managing daily operations in the hospitality sector is not an easy job. With cloud-based software, industry leaders can get rid of the error-prone manual and unproductive tasks. SaaS technologies provide a higher level of automation for hotel staff to manage reservations and housekeeping, update inventory, accounting, and billing processes. Integration of the right digital solutions also helps to improve business analytics.
iLink Digital has worked with one of the first chains of fast-casual dining establishments to improve their accuracy of the business intelligence report and help them make strategic business decisions. Read more about it.
- IoT Solutions
Customers aren’t the only ones experiencing the advantages of integrating IoT in the hospitality industry. With automated systems and data sharing, hotel managers too can leverage IoT to save a lot of money. Connected devices allow hotels to adjust the lighting in a room based on the amount of natural light. Likewise, it can detect the occupancy of a room, adjust the temperature and turn off the devices that are currently not in use, saving energy consumption without compromising the comfort of their guests.
- AI-enabled Interaction
With AI-chatbots guests no longer need to depend on reception to learn anything about their accommodation. They can simply use chatbots to interact with any human involvement from the management side. These chatbots are automated to answer FAQs about check-ins, checkouts, dinner, spa, city tour, or even fun activities during their vacation.
The Hilton hotel has already proven this by introducing “Connie,” the innovative AI robot which informs guests on local tourist attractions, dining recommendations, and hotel features and amenities. These smart assistances are available 24*7 and can easily help customers with the most common questions.
Even after check-out, these bots can keep in touch with customers providing helpful updates and encouraging guests to consider them for their next trip. Chatbots are also an effective means of collecting customer feedbacks and improving for the better.
- Virtual Reality Tours
Virtual reality is a great marketing tool used by the hospitality industry to attract customers. It helps the prospective clients visualize their potential accommodation, meeting spaces, and even nearby locations before making a final decision whether to reserve the space or not. Today, Marriott does the same with its clients. It uses Virtual reality to present all the benefits guests can get from their event spaces and gets them the relevant information about the place.
- Predictive Smart systems
Predictive systems help hotels to better manage their customers by staying up to date with the tasks such as breakfast-lunch services and track a lot of other important points in their customer journey. The staff can be freed from the stress of complex tasks and serve better to their guests. This not only improves the customer experience but also increases the retention rate. Likewise, with the help of IoT devices, predictive systems can easily identify the machines and equipment that require maintenance before an issue grows into a problem.
- Blockchain Technology
Blockchain is turning out to be the new internet for the travel industry, especially with millennials making large investments in cryptocurrency. Including blockchain technology and cryptocurrency technologies as the alternative payment method will eliminate frauds, third-party costs and encourage the direct providers to interact with consumers. This revolutionary technology is one of the modern services that the hotel industry can provide to its guests.
- Cyber Security
Emerging technology makes the hotel technology systems more reliant on data than ever before, increasing the need for cybersecurity. Additionally, most of the major hotel chains share partnerships with other local companies giving their guest profiles database a wider exposure. By making cybersecurity a focus, hotels can modernize their infrastructure to protect their systems from ransomware attacks, phishing attacks, dark hotel hacking, and human error within the company.
Future of Hospitality Industry after Covid-19
All of these technology trends will certainly help leading enterprises deliver the best customer experience while protecting their staff and customers’ health. In the post COVID world, the primary force to do business in the hospitality market will be to emphasize greater hygiene standards.
Hotels, restaurants, casinos, and other venues are making non-invasive thermal scanning a must to enable mass surveillance. It can identify potentially infected individuals and restrict them to enter the hospitality property. Another main focus for enterprises is to keep the property entirely clean and sanitized from time to time. The UV light is expected to be used in the future for sanitizing guest keys and staff devices. Apart from that, cleansing performance will be fully automated with drones and robots replacing the human staff.
Bringing transformation to you!
In conclusion, transforming to digital solutions will play a significant part in business recovery. All you need is the right technology partner that understands your needs and future goals. iLink Digital, Microsoft Gold level partner, has been working as a specialist in IT services since 2002, helping clients to realize their full potential for success.