The Rise of Technology in Hospitality
The hospitality sector is changing and is rapidly becoming more technology dependent. Theoretically this movement should improve the customer experience- but is the technology helping or hindering the experience? ⁴
The rise of technology for guests.
When guests arrive they no longer need to wait in long queues, or even speak to a person at all. Electronic kiosks are being used to check in or make an order. Smartphones can be used for payments and keyless entry to hotel rooms, to make requests, order room service or even control the TV. This self-service is attracting people, as the consumers can do things in their own time with just a click of a button or even make requests using voice activation, and not have to wait around to be served. ⁴
Hotels now can use smart sensors and hotel apps to allow guests to reserve parking spots in advance of their arrival and have their space assigned to them. This gives a much smoother guest experience, not having the stress of having to find a suitable parking space in a busy car park, from the moment they arrive. ¹
Before even setting foot in a hotel or restaurant, consumers can go online to see customer reviews and recommendations. Guest expectations around personalised service are getting deeper and more demanding, and with the use of online customer reviews, consumers can hand pick the best options for them just from hearing about others’ experiences. ²
There has also been a rise in using AI in the hospitality industry also. Already in some hotels, AI is improving guest service inquiry response and fulfilment time while decreasing problem resolution time. Going forward, AI can enhance the in- room experience, by automatically setting up a guest room with a level of precision that would eliminate the need of human help. Devices will update the room with personalised music, temperature and lighting settings, anticipate the need for room service or specific information requests and predict which hotel or outside services and activities would be of interest to guests, on an individual basis. ⁵
Recently AR has emerged as a tool to increase customer satisfaction in hospitality. It allows the industry to enhance the physical environments and experiences. For guests, AR can be used as interactive hotel rooms, the ability to see a map of the interior of a room before check- in. Augmented hotel environments are being used to entertain guests other than the typical activities of a pool or recreational activities. For example- guests can point their smartphone and see realistic virtual depictions of famous celebrities in the hotel. ³
This rise of technology is down to personalisation. This technology allows hotels and others in the service industry to personalise each and every guest experience, and it seems to be paying off. According to The 2019 Smart Decision Guide to Hotel Property Management Systems, 89 percent of hoteliers "agree" or "strongly agree" that targeted personalization - i.e., presenting guests with highly relevant messages, offers and services at the right time - is one of the most effective ways to improve the guest experience and, ultimately, guest satisfaction, loyalty and favourable brand advocacy. ⁵
The rise of technology for hospitality workers.
Technology has also risen not only for guests but workers as well. Software programs can instantaneously track, prioritise and communicate any task that needs to be performed. This means problems will be fixed faster, people responded to faster and all the needs of a hotel, resort or restaurant can be tracked. With the availability of the cloud, task management platforms can be available to any employee on any device. ²
“Hoteliers are finding a clear and direct correlation between task management automation, improving guest satisfaction scores, and optimizing RevPAR.” ²
Recently there has been a positive trend for hoteliers to adopt more back of house solutions that will enable staff to better perform their tasks, and a realisation that guest- facing and staff- facing technologies are equally important to the customer experience. Keeping staff informed and communicating priorities throughout their shift ensures workers are working proactively. ²
There is also an increased focus on data- driven personalisation to enhance the quality of the guest experience by understanding wants, needs and preferences. On a task management software, guests can have a profile detailing previous visits, preferences and anticipate their needs. When used correctly this type of technology can eliminate or drastically reduce consumer complaints and improve the overall consumer experience, building customer loyalty. ²
It seems clear that the technology implemented in the hospitality industry so far is being used to improve the customer experience and enhances staff and task management. It will be interesting to see what technology the industry will utilise next.