The hospitality industry is one that has seen lots of disruptive technological forces in recent years – the advent of the sharing economy, the subsequent changing of travel behaviours, and the uprising of the millennial customer segment. These hospitality and technology interventions have forced the industry’s hand to change, and fast.
The guests of today are no longer just looking for a place for the night – they’re looking for the complete package. Unique gourmet experiences, fancy waiting areas, and whole-new travel experiences that surpass their previous ones. These expectations have resulted in many industry-wide changes, both structurally and conceptually. The role that technology plays in the hospitality industry has also escalated, enabling many different previously-unheard functionalities all for the sake of better experiences. Hotel bookings through apps and room service e-menus are just a few of the many ways the experience can be enhanced.
However, with radical technological changes and capabilities that transcend industries, hotel chains should definitely be kept up to date with all the technology trends in hotels, and how they can both be a boon and a bane to the industry. Here are the top three innovative trends in the hospitality and technology industry you should be watching out for in 2016.
The millennials are the new power segment, and are also the fastest growing customer segment in the hospitality, expected to represent 50% of all travellers by 2025. Considering how they are the most willing to pay for unique experiences, hotels should be making a major investment in technology to up their appeal.
Gone are the days of standing in line at the lobby, and complaining to the people around you about how slow the check-in queue is. Now, we simply pull out our phones, and fire out Tweets and status updates about “how badly this hotel sucks” and how “I’m never coming back here ever again”. And this is only the first of many potential landmines you’ll have in your interactions with the consumer.
Theses guests also seek ultra-personalised services. Imagine this: You walk into the hotel lobby, pull out your phone to check-in, and the system verifies your identity with your biometric data on your smartphone. You skip the line, head right to your room, and unlock it with your smartphone. You head into the room, and see that the lights have been dimmed halfway, the temperature is set at 22 degrees, and your favourite news channel is already playing on the television – just the way you had left it in your previous stay two months ago. Futuristic? Well, all of these are already made possible.
With more than 1 in every 3 travellers claiming to use their smartphones more when they travel than they do at home, its hard to ignore the pervasiveness of mobile phones and guest behaviour. In light of this, hotels should be providing guests with the technological infrastructure – better Wi-Fi speeds, multi-device connectivity, and even sufficient USB charging ports. With up to 60% of travellers checking in to work at least once a day while on vacation, these upgrades would definitely improve their stay and satisfaction.
Even for entertainment, guests are turning more towards their own devices – instead of the in-room entertainment features of old. Their Netflix binges, mobile gaming fixes and social media updates would all have your great infrastructure to thank. These little things such as free Wi-Fi are no longer an option, but a requirement – to remain relevant.
Users have their smart devices everywhere they go – it has evolved from just a communication tool into something all-encompassing, like a personal assistant of sorts. We’re used to doing everything with our phones, from ordering a cab to getting last-minute food delivery.
The same amount of convenience should also be made for the hotel guests – smart appliances such as lamps, air-conditioning, the television should be compatible with the guests’ mobile operating systems, allowing them to control everything right in the palms of their hands. Giving them the opportunity to save their favourite preset settings is also a possibility, granting users more autonomy and personalisation.
Another opportunity here is the adoption of beacon technology right in your properties. Currently, this field has been under-utilised by hotels, typically offering only promotional benefits such as location-based discounts and sales. However, does this really improve the experiences of your guests? What if we are able to offer more – provide way-finding solutions, or notifying your inhouse housekeeping team when guests have left their rooms such that you minimise disturbances as much as possible? Or when guests are able to find out, at a glance, when the gym or pool is empty. The possibilities here are endless, and it’s up to how creative you can be in offering that superior experience.
Technology in the hospitality industry is starting to shake off its image as merely an expense, and moving up in terms of importance. Hotels which are using computer vision in hospitality to better the experiences of their guests are seen as disruptive industry leaders, recognised for their contributions to the industry.
The important focus here is really maximising your ROI on tech spend, and avoiding falling into gimmicky trends that prove no real value to both yourselves and your guests. What are some of the technology upgrades our hotel has recently forayed in? We’d love to hear in the comments below!