Not only is it critical to stay on top of the latest technology trends in hospitality, but given the highly competitive nature of the industry, hotel entrepreneurs and managers need to evolve alongside these trends.
Between augmented and virtual reality, AI-driven automation, and IoT integrations that streamline the guest experience, the technology trends and cutting-edge advancements reshaping the hospitality industry are nothing short of fascinating.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Another digital technology trend in hospitality is the Internet of Things, or IoT, which involves extending internet connectivity to everyday devices, appliances, and systems. These devices can then collect data and communicate or interact over the internet, shifting previously unintelligent devices into “smart” devices.
IoT is all part of delivering a seamless, customized experience that aligns with guest expectations. Additionally, IoT solutions can lower the costs of running a hotel or social entertainment venue by streamlining operations, providing better insights, and offering real-time, automated management.
Highly efficient, ROI-driven strategies can be leveraged with the help of IoT. Consider a busy hotel bar or restaurant environment in which waitstaff is spread thin. Guests can use voice-activated devices to order directly from the table, placing a more immediate queue for their food and beverages while enabling servers and preppers to benefit from a more seamless order-taking process.
IoT integrations are also a hot commodity in hotel room advancements. Below are examples of how hotels can leverage IoT to optimize and establish smart hotel rooms.
- Lighting – Light fixtures include options for dimming, changing colors, and changing light temperature and hue.
- Smart TVs – By now, many people are accustomed to having smart TVs in their own living rooms, so it’s almost a requirement in a modern smart hotel.
- Menus – Digitized room service menus provide visitors with options available on a smart TV or phone app. Guest preferences could even be stored for future visits.
- Thermostats – Smart thermostats allow guests to dial-in their room’s comfort level without the hassle of window AC units.
- Water Temperature – Digital water temperature sensors provide control over comfortable water temperatures for guests.
- Curtains and Shades – Motorized and automated window treatments give guests easy control over curtains, drapes, and shades with the press of a button or the use of an app.
Intelligence-driven technology is becoming more and more a part of our daily lives, and it’s without question that hotel guests will be the first to experience these “smart” enhancements when traveling. However, it’s important to note that IoT-enabled systems’ success and reliability depend on professionally-managed internet services and WiFi connectivity.
In this digitally-driven era, not only do guests expect to be able to interact with hospitality companies across a variety of digital channels, but they also wish to receive rapid responses. This is where chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI) come in. While many people are put off by the idea of communicating with software that can understand language and respond rapidly, the days are upon us when the difference between a computer and a real human is indistinguishable.
Chatbots, which are among the most popular forms of AI-driven automation, can understand simple questions and provide answers almost instantaneously. This lifts the burden from staff members while streamlining and improving the guest experience. Beyond chatbots and communication, AI applications extend into other vital areas of hospitality, including Voice-activated services, concierge robots, and data analysis.
Automation continues to be a hospitality technology trend that is changing the way guests are served. With the advancements in AI, hotels are exploring new avenues to interact with guests digitally while freeing up hotel staff to focus on other more important duties. AI automation also improves the overall travel experience as language barriers are minimized, ensuring clear communication with guests wherever they’re based.
Contactless Guest Journey
A hospitality technology trend that has grown because of the pandemic is hotels providing a contactless guest journey. Through the use of mobile devices, hotel guests can encounter as few physical touchpoints as possible. A contactless guest journey can enable a more efficient and streamlined experience that guests will appreciate and hoteliers can benefit from, especially for routine operations like checking-in guests and managing room keys.
Mobile check-ins minimize the need for face-to-face customer interactions, meaning guests can have greater flexibility when they check-in. According to a survey by Zebra Technologies, over two-thirds of hotel guests said they would prefer using mobile check-in processes. On the hotel business side, mobile check-in also frees up staff to put their time and energy into other aspects of serving customers.
Similarly, one recent hotel technology trend has been the development of mobile devices as door keys. Hotels today provide cards that are items that put data onto a guest’s mobile device. With this card, guests can more easily access their rooms and other areas of the hotel, such as the gym, tennis courts, and spa area. These cards can also be visually scanned to process entry into these areas of the hotel.
Location-based services are an emerging integration that allows guests to locate hotel staff more efficiently and get the assistance they need. Understanding where staff members are located creates a number of opportunities to improve the guest experience — from delivering services to guests wherever they’re positioned to turning over rooms more quickly to helping event staff operate more efficiently and beyond.
Driven by GPS technology, location-based services provide users the means to participate, react, and communicate about the location where they’re at. Integrating location-based services creates additional value for standard mobile-based services, like booking last-minute trips, rental cars, and hotels, as well as accessing information regarding transportation changes and delays, and guides to restaurants, events, and sightseeing opportunities at a particular destination.
Beyond employee location-based features for hotel staff, research by Ingenta observed four primary functions of location-based services for the traveler: localization of persons, objects, and places; routing between them; search for objects in proximity such as restaurants, shops, hotels, or sights, and; information about travel conditions, such as traffic-related data. This
VR & AR
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are two major technology trends in hospitality that reshape many processes and functions. Hospitality marketing professionals can leverage VR technology opportunities to provide potential customers with the ability to experience aspects of a hotel or see a restaurant’s layout before booking.
VR gives prospective customers a better sense of what they can expect when they visit for real. Most modern VR tour videos can be viewed within a web browser, making them easily accessible. However, a greater level of immersion can be achieved if users have access to a VR headset. While it will still take time before VR headset tours are the new normal, trends in VR use continue to grow in various hospitality applications.
Similarly, AR has exploded as a tech trend like VR, but it is even more accessible and offers limitless potential. Unlike VR, which places users in a digital environment, AR is about enhancing the real-world environment through information overlays. Imagine if a hotel that provides AR-compatible wall maps, where customers can point their phone at the map and find information about specific locations and areas of attraction. Alternatively, apps are developed to allow users to see local restaurants’ customer reviews by looking at the building through their smartphones.
Beyond the guest experience, AR applications can also deliver a clear view into future hotel developments before they’re built, including the various layers of materials and installations that are otherwise difficult to visualize through drawings alone.
According to ArchDaily, AR-integrated 3D plans and virtual model holograms can help developers understand the project better and facilitate its execution. Even during construction, AR’s ability to see through walls and understand the technical installations’ path facilitates the overall development process. As a result, AR helps reduce the possibility of error and guides the construction of complex geometries.
Both VR and AR are extremely valuable in hospitality because hotels are essentially selling a physical environment, which can be enhanced through VR and AR engagement.
With digital technology continuously evolving, it should come as no surprise that its hospitality applications will be at the forefront of this evolution. Guests’ expectations are increasing with technological advancements, and competitive hotels and successful hospitality businesses will need to be ready to meet those expectations to survive.