Guests nowadays are not satisfied with typical hotel room facilities such as an HD TV and a stocked minibar. They demand personalized services such as being able to control the A/C, send messages to the concierge to ask for extra towels and even order room service from their smartphones via the hotel's application.
The technological revolution has increased customer's expectations with an emphasis on the search for convenience. A survey made by Oracle Hospitality amongst hotel guests in the U.S, showed that 64% of guests consider extremely important for hotels to improve their guest experience by investing in hospitality technology. Moreover, innovative services create a competitive advantage for hotels implementing them, increasing customer satisfaction and retention.
In this article:
What is hospitality technology
Hospitality technology trends
How hotels are using technology for competitive advantage
What Is Hospitality Technology
Smart technology is changing the way we travel, and several industries are impacted by the technological revolution, among them the hospitality industry. Today’s competitive hospitality market requires organizations to use advanced technology innovations to ensure the guests satisfaction.
There are several innovations changing the way hotels serve their guests. Hotels leverage technologies such as artificial intelligence and application development to offer their guests an array of possibilities, from automated check ins, to controlling room temperature, ordering room service, booking a spa session from the mobile app, and even booking a ride. The key pattern of every technology-based service should be to enhance the guest experience through offering convenience.
Hospitality Technology Trends
New technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have made their way into the hospitality industry. The following are some of the latest trends in hospitality technology.
Occupancy sensors can measure the fluctuations in occupancy by using smart thermostats to check the room temperature. Hotels can use smart energy-management systems to optimize energy consumption in real time, all year round. These solutions use advanced algorithms that analyze historical temperatures and peak demand loads, reducing hotel energy costs by up to 20%.
Automated check-in and check out
Guests can check in remotely through their smartphone, significantly saving time for the concierge. This technology also alerts the staff when guests are about to arrive, giving them the opportunity to offer upsells and personalize the guest experience. The guests can also self-check-out at the end of their stay, all from the same app or website.
This is the latest buzz in hotel technology. A chatbot is a service that allows you to interact with an AI via a chat interface. This trend takes advantage of the popularity of messaging apps to improve the customer experience. For example, helping guests to schedule room cleaning, asking for late check out at the time of leaving, or a fruit basket before arrival.
Smart concierge and mobility solutions
This technology involves integrating smart mobility solutions into the guest experience. For instance, a web widget allows customers to book a ride to the hotel from the moment they book their stay through the webpage. Once in the hotel, the guests can approach the concierge in order to book and manage rides on their behalf. Moreover, many hotels feature self-service kiosks in the lobby, facilitating guests to search for all available transportation options for getting around in the city.
Near-field communication (NFC) technology
This new technology for wireless data transfer senses technology nearby your device allowing to communicate without needing an internet connection. NFC improves how consumers pay, transfer files or connect to other devices. For instance, with this technology, guests can use their smartphone as a smart room key or to pay for various services.
This is a new level in check-in identity verification. Some hotels are already using face scanners to verify the identity of guests at check in, and to allow them access to the dining room for breakfast. One such example is the Intercontinental Shanghai Wonderland, which offers a seamless experience by allowing guests to pay through WeChat, the Chinese mobile payment app.
Voice recognition also has a role, with many hotels adding voice assistants. For instance, a company called Two Roads Hospitality has partnered with Amazon to develop a customized Alexa for Hospitality platform. The goal is to help staff identify maintenance problems, or identify which rooms are ready for check in.
Blockchain and cryptocurrency
Blockchain technology has come a long way since it was associated exclusively to cryptocurrency sites. This technology offers transparency, security and control of electronic transactions. Blockchain also eliminates the need for third parties.
Therefore, several industries are taking advantage of its benefits, such as LockTrip (LOC), a blockchain-based hotel and vacation rentals marketplace. This platform allows hotels to manage bookings, with listings priced in LOC, a cryptocurrency with a real-time exchange rate. This technology allows hotels to offer prices 20% below market rate.
How Hotels Are Using Technology for Competitive Advantage
Technology is one of the key components of giving a hotel an advantage over its competitors. There are a number of technologies and tips that can help to get an edge on the competition.
A branded app
Mobile apps are a simple and effective way for engaging guests from the moment they search for a hotel until after their stay. This can help reinforce the organization’s loyalty or rewards program. Moreover, the app can collect useful information such as type of request, usage frequency or even popular menu items for management to leverage on this information to improve their guest service.
As mentioned above, mobile check-in is one of the most popular options travelers look for when searching for a seamless guest experience. Mobile check-in allows to reduce queues at the front desk saving time to the staff members and the the guests.
Today’s customers are very savvy, taking every communication with caution. The power of peer review is such that most people will look for hotel recommendations on social media. Therefore, hotels are investing in enhancing their media presence, as well as appointing brand ambassadors. Nowadays a positive review in social media can mean the difference between low occupancy and full occupancy.
How Hotels Are Using Technology for Competitive Advantage
In sum, technological advances have given the power to guests. Hotels need to work harder to match guests expectations, and one way to do this is to incorporate advanced technologies like AI and IoT-based applications. These technology-driven services allow guests to plan and book trips, and they allow hotel administrations and staff to provide streamlined services and improve security, cost and time efficiency and overall customer experience.