As new technologies evolve, so do customer requirements. A hotel room with WiFi is no longer a novelty – broadband internet is a must these days, just like TV. Today, customers want to make convenient bookings, control air-conditioning and heating, communicate with the hotel staff through popular messengers, order room service and pick dishes from the menu via a smartphone and much more.
When it comes to technology in the hotel industry, customer demands are getting more sophisticated. For example, hoteliers may lose potential customers if they fail to offer an online 3D tour to get a ‘look and feel’ of the hotel rooms and settings before booking. Applying emerging technologies in the hospitality industry may help hotel businesses gain the upper hand and stand out from competitors.
In this article, we will provide a brief overview of the most current technology trends in the hospitality sector, discover how they add value to customers, and suggest ideas for guest service software solutions that you may use to empower your hospitality business. Read on to learn more!
The use of technology in the hospitality industry focuses on maximizing customers’ comfort at every stage of their experience – from booking and check-ins to planning their next stay with regards to their tastes and preferences. Let’s now examine the technologies that are increasingly applied in the hospitality sector.
VR is an acronym for virtual reality – immersive technology imitating real-life environments and settings. By combining 3D imaging with sounds and even sensations, VR helps achieve unprecedented presence effects. Although mostly associated with gaming and infotainments, VR is now applied in hospitality as well. For example, Holiday Inn Express Adelaide uses virtual tours to give guests the experience of what checking in, attending a conference or relaxing at the lounge zone would feel like.
For hoteliers, VR is a powerful communication tool: The amount of information that potential clients can get during a virtual walkthrough surpasses any written or verbal account of available accommodations and services.
Moreover, VR helps users feel emotionally attached to certain settings before they actually become guests. The proliferation of immersive technologies is challenged by technological limitations – VR headsets are still cumbersome and expensive. Gradually, though, they are becoming more convenient, affordable, and mainstream.
2. Robots and chatbots
Robots in the hospitality industry are gradually becoming a fixture as well. Their types vary from software robots, also known as chatbots and virtual assistants, to complex android robots imitating human form.
Robots are used for algorithmic tasks (task with predefined sequence of steps), and for leveraging AI, speech and facial recognition, as well as navigation technologies for tasks like chatbot booking, front desk and porter services, cleaning, storage, etc. Unsurprisingly, the world’s first hotel staffed exclusively with robots (Henn-Na Hotel) was opened in Nagasaki, Japan.
In terms of customer value, robotization of the hotel industry meets the current trend for automation and self-service. Robots help guests save time, free up staff for more important hotel activities, and minimize unnecessary human interactions – no more waiting in lines or carrying heavy luggage. Moreover, robots are great at collecting and providing information; they also recognize and speak multiple languages.
Read also: Chatbot Apps: The Future of Customer Service
3. Smart room keys
Smart room keys leverage near field communication technology (NFC), which is, essentially, the technology used for mobile payments. Through NFC, two devices can communicate with each other and exchange information at close proximity.
Thus, NFC technology provides an easy way to open a hotel door; it also is a powerful tool for offering users exquisite personalized experiences – from personalized ad content to tracking loyalty points for using room service. Via Bluetooth they can communicate directly with users’ smartphones, which accounts for their increased proliferation – as of today, most hoteliers in the United States are replacing traditional locks with smart keys and consider it an important security investment.
4. Smart gadgets and sensors
Intrusive room service is one of the issues hotel guests frequently report, but the use of infrared sensors offers a solution to this common problem. By measuring temperature levels, IFRA sensors indicate if a person is in a room and inform room service whether or not they can enter.
Enhancing hotel rooms with smart gadgets is also gaining wider popularity: smart mirrors broadcasting news, and equipped with touch-screens for checking news and email, tablet controls, smart lamps and air-quality sensors are just some of the examples of how smart gadgets are being used to enhance hotel experiences.
Apart from the wow effect, smart gadgets can serve to create a healthy environment, track and manage energy usage, provide fast and seamless access to room services and much more. Wynn Resorts, for example, has installed Amazon Echo into more than 4,000 of its hotel rooms. The device recognizes voice commands, plays music, delivers new updates, and helps guests manage room lighting, drapes, and temperature.
5. Concierge apps
Instead of setting up static reception desks with personnel working in shifts, many hotels are investing in creating concierge apps for automating check-ins and check-outs, room service, and information provision. The proliferation of smartphones has surely set the stage for the emergence of concierge apps, enabling hoteliers to deliver more personalized guest services, remember details of their previous visits, and tailor their services to individual preferences during the next stay.
While guests get to enjoy smarter and faster services, hotel staff can focus on tasks requiring human involvement, and hotel owners can use data collected by concierge apps for making better informed business decisions.
6. Data analytics in the hospitality industry
Hoteliers are increasingly interested in big data to drive their businesses forward. Indeed, the potential for data analytics in the hospitality industry is quite impressive. By deriving insights from data collected by smart sensors and concierge apps, hotel owners can control inventory and power supplies, manage personnel, streamline routine processes, launch effective marketing campaigns and, ultimately, offer better customer services.
One of the world’s largest hotel chains, Marriott, is using data analytics to carry out competitor analysis and monitor new services competitors introduce. The chain is also using big data to create new revenues streams and fine-tune its pricing strategies. Their Dynamic Pricing Automation service evaluates a wide range of metrics such as local events and economic situations, occupancy and cancellation rates, reservation behavior and even weather reports to estimate pricing and adjust it to the current situation.
Acceleration, automation, better services and increased customer satisfaction are just some of the advantages of technology in the hospitality industry. Let’s now explore how technology in the hospitality industry can work to your benefit. Below are some ideas for hospitality software solutions to set you on the right track.
Guest engagement and acquisition software
Attracting guests to your property and keeping their stay comfortable and convenient so that they would want to return is one of the challenges hoteliers face on a regular basis. Guest Engagement apps can help hotel businesses attract guests and communicate with them during their stay. Guest Engagement systems usually include reservation platforms, internet booking and channel managers to allow reservations from different platforms as well as revenue management systems to control and keep track of revenue streams.
These systems automate booking and payment processes, understand multiple languages and accept multiple currencies, manage refunds, personalize bookings, collect reservation data for further analysis, and more. For large hotel chains, big and mid-sized hotels and small residential properties, Guest Engagement software is a huge asset.
Guest retention software solutions
Turning your guests into loyal customers and ensuring that they return again and again requires communication. Guest retention apps keep communication lines between guests and hotels open even after the visit, and encourage clients to book their next stay.
Guest retention software solutions include the following:
- CRM systems for lead management
- storing and retrieving data
- sending emails and notifications
- keeping track of clients’ purchase history
- ORM (Online Reputation Management) systems for tracking what clients say about your hotel on social networks and platforms like Booking and TripAdvisor
- software for managing loyalty programs enabling guests to earn loyalty points.
Guest service software systems
The latest cutting edge technologies in this segment can be subdivided into two main categories – Self-service and Smart room technologies. As the name implies, self-service systems eliminate unnecessary human interactions by automating processes like payments, check-ins and check-outs, filling out registration forms, locking and unlocking doors, etc.
Smart room technology is driven by IoT and offers visitors a range of in-room devices to make their stay comfortable and convenient. Personalized entertainment, room environment control, and digitally enhanced room service are some of the examples of smart room technologies adopted by modern hotels. Although some customers are wary of using smart rooms because of potential security issues, tech savvy guests find smart room experiences enjoyable.
Finally, Guest Engagement and Retention, and Service software can be integrated into a robust Hotel Property Management System – an all-in-one platform for all your hotel management needs.
If you want to enhance your hotel business with technological solutions, but are not sure where to start, think about your guests. What do they frequently complain about? What are their most pressing needs? Obviously, a luxurious in-room entertainment system can wait, if they’re struggling with booking issues or have to wait in lines at the reception deck just to get travel info.
Alternatively, if booking, check-ins, and administrative and security aspects of their stay work seamlessly, you may add some fun and fancy solutions to enhance their experience and make their stay truly memorable.
The changes the hospitality industry is going through due to the digital revolution are immense. Fortunately, introducing innovations is a rewarding experience, since customers instantly respond with increased satisfaction, positive feedback, and higher retention rates.
Need expert advice on Property and Guest management solutions for your hotel? Want to learn more about how technology empowers the hospitality industry? Contact our team now for a free consultation!