The role of technology has taken over almost every industry—and anyone that has spent time in the hospitality industry knows that it’s no different. With this surge of new technology, challenges become infinitely more complex. Whether they’re rolling out apps or artificial intelligence, hotels must consider the staff that will be supporting and the guests who will be using these innovative tools.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at three immersive trends that will be shaking up this new era in the hotel industry.
Trend No. 1: The Future is Mobile
Mobile devices dictate people’s lives. From paying bills to making travel arrangements, people use their mobile devices to merely survive in today’s ever-evolving society. Meeting—better yet, anticipating—these mobile needs is imperative in the hotel industry.
As mobile devices are widely popular, integrating mobile capabilities for guests should take precedence and be a priority for hoteliers. According to an Oracle Hospitality survey, more than 90 percent of surveyed hotel executives stated that mobile technologies are vital to improving the guest experience and cultivating loyalty. However, only 69 percent of those respondents were confident in their organization’s ability to adopt and deliver those mobile experiences.
The capacity to incorporate smartphones is endless—from booking rooms and mobile check-in to using mobile devices as room keys and ordering food, the sky is the limit. Prioritizing mobile efficiencies also will enhance the guest experience. Today’s guests are all about convenience and letting them swipe and tap their every need will make their experience and lives easier.
Providing a more mobile-friendly experience isn’t only beneficial for the guest, but also for hotel employees. Gone are the days of the uber-difficult technological implementations that leave employees even more stressed than they started. Many current mobile platforms are designed with the employees in mind to help adhere to rising customer expectations and to provide the hotels with the opportunity to capture data and insights. Hotel management also can use mobile devices to manage and delegate tasks, access guest information, respond to guest concerns, communicate across teams, analyze reports and a plethora of other uses.
Trend No. 2: Standardization is Key
Standardization in any industry is ideal. As hotels start to fuse technology into their businesses, it’s important that they look for software and solutions that are intuitive and easy for employees to adapt to, as well as robust platforms and solid integration points. A new generation of hospitality workers has grown up with cell phones and longstanding allegiances to technology platforms—from Mac and PC to Nintendo and Sega. These technology predispositions don’t stop at the office; today’s hospitality employees want to live mobile-first and on their preferred platforms. For operators, this means that deferring from industry standards or using less-than-stellar systems for property management and other critical functions can be a deterrent to potential staffers. Instead, hotels should look for platforms commonly used in the industry and their region, with shared interfaces across the property-management system, point-of-sale system, and sales- and event-management systems to deliver as seamless an experience as possible for employees.
Trend No. 3: AI is Revolutionizing the Game
It’s safe to say that artificial intelligence is here to stay—and dominate. With its ability to learn guest behaviors and preferences, the potential of artificial intelligence is immeasurable. One innovative way that AI is leading the charge is through chatbots. Chatbots have the ability to communicate effectively, comprehend questions and respond and provide recommendations and suggestions. Chatbots also have the ability to interpret and communicate in multiple languages, which can be extremely critical for international guests.
For example, a chatbot can answer questions about on-property dinning, dietary needs, inform guests about deals and have the meal delivered or ready when the guests arrive downstairs. This provides world-class service and a world of help for employees.
Today, more and more hotels are going to the next level to enhance the guest experience and internally improve their teams, but there are always new trends. The key for hoteliers is to understand how to leverage the latest and greatest tools and technologies and figure out how to make them work for their hotels. As hoteliers navigate business in the '20s, it’s imperative that they stay on the cutting edge and be ready for tomorrow.
Daniel Krisch is senior director of hospitality strategy for Oracle Hospitality.