Technology in the hospitality industry has become a hot topic in the past few years. Both the pandemic and recent scientific advances have caused disruptive trends in the hospitality sector.
Covid era precautions have radically changed the way hotels operate, with more demand for contactless services. Furthermore, a growing millennial and Gen Z customer base has made hotels realize that they must keep up with the latest technology to stay afloat in an increasingly competitive market.
What Is Hospitality Technology, and Why Should Hospitality Businesses Care About Tech Trends?
Hospitality technology refers to innovations that help businesses run more smoothly, improve conditions for staff, and help personalize hotel stays for guests. The most important reason for hospitality businesses to adopt new technology is to satisfy customer demands and give guests the most pleasant experience possible.
Keeping up with technology trends in the hotel industry is essential for businesses to compete with companies that are employing the latest scientific innovations. Even smaller hotels can make simple changes to gain an edge over businesses that aren’t using advanced systems.
Without further ado, let’s explore the latest technology being used in the hospitality industry.
Contactless Payment Systems
Covid concerns have made many people hesitant to book a hotel room even after widespread vaccinations. According to consumer survey statistics, accomodating contactless payments topped the list of actions the hospitality industry can take to make people feel more comfortable staying in hotels. Modern payment systems may also lead to more hotels accepting cryptocurrency as payment.
Website chatbots have become a must for any hospitality business. Chatbots give hotels the ability to answer common customer questions 24/7, and they can transfer more complex queries to the next available member of the hotel staff. Customers get quicker responses, and staff members have access to the information in the initial chat for reference. Larger hotel chains are even incorporating Artificial Intelligence (AI) to make their chatbots more realistic and for monitoring their social media channels.
Mobile check-in offers many advantages to both hotels and their guests. Offering mobile check-in via the hotel app eliminates the need to maintain a huge reception counter. Hotels can free up space for luggage storage, communal areas, and branded merch counters, while staff members will be free to attend to other matters.
Mobile check-in will eliminate the need for guests to spend time at the reception counter, which can be critical for business travelers and families with small children.
And now that Covid has become a potentially permanent part of our lives, mobile check-in is essential for minimizing person-to-person contact.
Branded Conceirge Apps
Concierge apps allow hotel guests to plan their entire stay directly from their smartphones. Along with recommending restaurants, sights, and activities in the nearby area, concierge apps can integrate chatbots to make the guest experience more interactive and personalized.
Some hotels have replaced room service menus and brochures with in-room tablets preloaded with concierge apps and other helpful information. Tablets make customer stays more convenient and allow hotel staff to dedicate more time to giving guests personalized treatment.
Keyless Entry Systems
The pandemic has provoked consumer demand for keyless entry systems, such as smartphone-activated doors and locks that use facial or fingerprint-recognition technology. The common situation of losing the room key may soon become a thing of the past. Guests won’t need to bother asking for the key at the front desk, and hotels won’t have to replace lost keys.
Advanced Wifi Infrastructure
Fast and stable wifi connectivity is crucial now that more people rely on the internet for work and leisure. Hotels will need to abandon the user-pay model and provide adequate bandwidth as more guests work online, stream media, make video calls, and play games. Exciting new wifi technologies like WiFi6 can be up to 30% faster than our current system. Wifi6 can also be used for better-performing smart devices in hotel rooms.
In addition to updating wifi networks, hotels are employing Near Field Communication Technology (NFC). NFC uses high-frequency, short-range communication to transfer data between nearby devices. NFC tech can take some of the burden off of wifi networks and is ideal for mobile check-in and keyless entry.
With recent advances in voice recognition technology, more people are using voice search and online assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Android’s Bixby, and Google Assistant.
Voice-controlled rooms allow guests to avoid contact with frequently touched objects like light switches and thermostats. Voice control is also helpful for the visually impaired, people with arthritis, and guests who are otherwise challenged. Plus, travelers arriving after a long flight can have the room’s voice assistant pour a glass of wine, draw a bath, or cue up video streaming services.
According to Energy Star data, hotels spend an average of $2,196 per room in energy costs each year. Installing smart lighting and climate control systems can result in up to 20% savings in energy costs and a 70% cut in carbon dioxide emissions. Hotels can also conserve energy by switching to LED lighting, which uses less than 75% of the energy as incandescent bulbs.
Tech Lounges and Digital Conference Facilities
The demand for tech lounges and other co-working spaces has seen a marked increase with more companies providing work-from-home options and many workers starting freelance careers and becoming digital nomads.
To compete in today’s tech-savvy market, hotels will also have to provide digitally equipped conference rooms for company functions. Outdated AV equipment won’t do in the post-Zoom conference world.
The use of robotics presents one of the most exciting technological trends in housekeeping. The pandemic has transformed the idea of using robotics from a novelty concept to an extremely practical one. Robots can provide contactless room service delivery and room cleaning, reducing the chances of spreading Covid.
Automated Property Management Systems
Updated Property Management Systems (PMS) will need to include hardware and software that allows hotels to automate administrative tasks. Advanced PMS technology helps hotels with more than one location integrate better, and guests will be able to use one app to interact with multiple hotel brands owned by the same corporation.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
Virtual reality provides potential guests with 360-degree videos of rooms and other hotel amenities. Augmented reality allows guests to create a customized environment, including turning a wall into a forest, beach sunset, or even outer space. Adopting these technologies can be pivotal in convincing potential guests to book your hotel over the competition.
Infrared scanners are poised to become one of the most disruptive trends in housekeeping. How many times have you forgotten to hang the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the doorknob of your hotel room? Or you hung the sign only to have housekeeping ignore it and barge in at an inappropriate moment?
With infrared scanners, housekeeping will know when guests are present and can return later to tidy up when the room is unoccupied. Scanners can also help hotels save energy by automatically turning off lights and climate control when the room is empty.
Internet of Things (IoT)
The ever-expanding “Internet of Things” extends internet connectivity to everyday objects. By using IoT technology, hotels can offer guests smart rooms, which allow them to create an entirely personalized environment. Smart room occupants can adjust lighting, temperature, and audio-visual devices directly from their smartphone or a universal remote provided by the hotel.
Advanced Data-Collecting Systems
Big data has become increasingly important for the hospitality industry. Advanced data-collecting systems help hotels personalize the guest experience, pass on relevant offers to their customers, and help hospitality businesses make strategic decisions.
Additionally, hoteliers will be able to input their data into predictive smart systems, which can set up automatic alarms, reminders, and notifications. As hotel databases expand, we will also see more hospitality businesses switching to cloud-based systems.
Unfortunately, hotels are frequent targets for cyber-attacks. In 2020, hackers caused a horrific data breach at MGM resorts, compromising the personal data of over 10 million hotel guests.
Advanced cybersecurity will become even more crucial as hotels integrate more technology into their businesses. After collecting extensive data to personalize hotel stays, hospitality companies have an obligation to protect their customers’ privacy.
Hotels will also need up-to-date cybersecurity technology to protect internal communications and other sensitive business information. Cybersecurity systems will need to be able to combat phishing and other cyber-attacks while keeping data properly backed up and recoverable.
The ability to communicate in a variety of languages is becoming essential with the increase in digital nomadism and globalized business culture. Advanced translation devices can help guests and hotel staff avoid misunderstandings.
Facial Recognition Technology
We’ve already discussed recognition technology with respect to keyless entry systems. However, facial recognition technology has many other applications. For instance, facial recognition can help staff members identify VIP guests and screen people who have been problematic in the past.
Most people don’t respond to marketing calls anymore. However, with apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, hotels can send special deals to targeted customers. Hospitality businesses can also send surveys to guests so that staff members can personalize their stay. Additionally, customers can contact hotels without making phone calls or having to download an app.
Metasearch sites compare hotels and accommodations in one place, such as Hotels.com, TripAdvisor, Booking.com, and Trivago. Hotels will want to list their properties and place strategic ads as more and more travelers turn to metasearch sites for convenience.
While hospitality tech isn’t meant to replace human interaction, adopting some of the latest technology trends in the hotel industry can free staff to give guests more personalized attention. Some customers will demand the latest tech, especially millennials and Gen Z. But many people will still want a homey experience with more human contact. The idea is to decide which technology works for your business and give customers both options whenever possible.
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