A few innovative trends in hospitality have gotten the hotel industry shook up. A study done by Deloitte about the outlook for the hospitality and travel industry gives a grand overview of the expectations that consumers are looking forward to, that move in line with hospitality and technology advancements.
These findings are reminders to the hospitality industry that improvement by disruption is needed fast, to accommodate these new consumer behaviours, innovations and technology trends for hotels. Processes – even the most basic check-in and verification at hotel lobbies – need to be optimised, especially in an age where multi-planetary travel is also slowly becoming a reality.
Greater accessibility for consumers to travel come in many forms, from budget airlines that give traditional airlines a challenge with competitive price tags,to an increasing inventory of private accommodation through platforms such as Airbnb. This issue is made more apparent by the millennials, the next in line to be the majority of the workforce. They look upon travel as a highly sought-after product, and their desire for a well-balanced, experiential life coupled with “the fear of missing out” contributing as a key decision driver to travel.
An article in 2014 by Forbes looked at the hotel industry as an example of how industry disruption would look like, a scenario that other industries facing similar challenges would mirror. Fast forward to early this year, and we see the current landscape of the hotel industry a contrast from the earlier doomsday projection, instead of finding new ways to innovate and delight guests, to stay ahead of the curve.
Hospitality and Technology
The value that a hotel holds for its guests lies beyond just better hospitality industry technology as the sole factor. But in how a mix of guest experiences, convenience, reputation, access to attractions and amenities, reflect the compelling value at an attractive price point.
This goes beyond just top notch customer service, which was the gold standard previously – looking at the case study where Nordstrom is synonymous with customer service, and the takeaway points come in the fact that the staff at Nordstrom are well trained and empowered by resources afforded by the organisation, crafting an experience that becomes a story for the age.
Technology Trends for Hotels
Looking at the forerunners in the hospitality industry, exemplary customer service is now looked upon as a basic requirement, not a differentiating factor. The differentiating factors that hotel operators can look at to elevate themselves within their cohort lie in addressing pain points before the guest even has had a chance to bring that to mind. Pain points such as the hassle of check-in and check-out procedures being circumvented through industry focus on automation across the board.
Different organisations have had their takes in tackling the pain point, implementing solutions from human-assisted check-in kiosks, next-generation face recognition and biometric in hotels, as well as using guests’ smartphones as the key.
Looking into the future of keyless technology that will be the next game changer will be in providing functionalities that can assist and provide personalised guest experience , even providing pre-arrival touch-points for consumers.
Functionalities that we can look forward to as keyless technology becomes more sophisticated will include check-in capabilities that give guests autonomy, in picking the exact rooms they want with a clear layout of the floor plan, not having to wait for their rooms to be ready and the use of artificial intelligence in hospitality. This mobile check-in software effectively allows a guest to walk through the doors, through to their rooms and completely bypassing the lobby.
Automating the Process, Not the Experience
This move does not mean that hotel management staff become redundant. On the contrary, with keyless capabilities automating processes, the traditional administrative workload that hotel staff would normally have to deal with is removed from the equation, allowing them to devote more time, and provide better personalised details, enhancing the consumer experience.
Syncing the resources to match the requirements of the expectations of guests, along with their preferences will allow hotels to allocate the right amount of staff and resources, to cater the needs of each guest. From having bellhops on standby if the guest has extra luggage, to providing a complimentary slice of cheesecake which a frequent guest has heaped glowing praises on his social media feed, to suggesting a planned itinerary for a newlywed couple with a penchant for adventure to provide a service that goes beyond amenities to make the stay truly experiential.
Keyless technology for hotels needs to consolidate the services and attractions that draw guests to stay. With smartphones as their key and identity, remembering guests’ preferences will give hotel management the right data to predict and provide service that goes beyond. Hotel management can better track tasks, and give insight to better operational efficiencies to improve hotel productivity, workflows and security measures. Facial recognition technology which allows check-in with selfie, also provide greater security to both guests and hotels, without interrupting the experience with troublesome procedures.
The marriage of integrated services that are tagged with the keyless technology together with meticulous, service gives hotels the means to look beyond sustainability despite the strong presence of a shared economy, giving hotels greater understanding and resources involved in personalising services will be the deciding factor in propelling what the hospitality industry stands for, to go beyond just a place to stay for the night, but a brand that resonates, turning first-time visitors to regular guests.