Technology adoption in hotels has increased exponentially over the last three years, due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic. During that time, hotels utilized digital solutions as a means to remain open and continue catering to customers while still keeping both guests and staff safe. Although the pandemic is thankfully behind us now, technology adoption is still on the rise. Here are three predictions for how technology usage will grow and change within the coming year.
1. Technology dependency will continue to increase, but…
The hospitality industry shows no signs of slowing down its reliance on technology anytime soon. This is especially true as younger generations account for a greater share of the workforce. Generation Z and Millennials are far less resistant to technology than their older counterparts. Many of them cannot even remember a time before cell phones, so utilizing mobile-based solutions comes naturally to them. Emphasizing technology is a great way to attract younger workers, which is especially important given the current staffing shortage.
That being said, there will continue to be competition with old-school “solutions” like walkie-talkies and post-it notes. Old habits die hard, as they say! It might take one individual a mere three weeks to build a new habit, but it takes an entire industry far longer than that.
Hotels have been using walkie-talkies and post-it notes for a long time now and some team members simply have no interest in changing that. They’re firm believers in the adage “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” which I respect. Just because something isn’t broken, however, does not mean that it can’t be improved. Hotels that utilize digital solutions can see vast improvements in staff productivity, communication, and guest satisfaction. It might take time to learn and implement new digital solutions at a hotel, but the benefits far outweigh the cost.
2. Staffing will continue to be the biggest challenge
Understaffing has been a chronic issue for many industries over the past three years, and the hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit. Even as pandemic regulations eased and life began to get back to “normal” most hotels still struggled to find and keep staff. There are many reasons for this which will no doubt be debated throughout the next year or more, but the crux of the matter is that it appears understaffing will, unfortunately, continue in 2023.
The more important question to consider is: What can hotels do about it? This is another instance where technology can be a lifesaver. When a hotel is short-staffed, digital solutions help busy and bare-bones hotel teams do more with fewer people. With guest messaging apps, front desk agents can text multiple guests at a time instead of fielding phone calls one at a time.
When workflows are digitally streamlined, intra-department communication is made easier, daily tasks are expedited, and there’s a record of everything that happens. The trends and insights that hotel technology can provide to managers and above-property team members are invaluable because it helps them quickly learn what is working, what’s not, and how to increase efficiency all around.
Many digital solutions also allow hotel teams to onboard new employees faster, so it takes them less time to get up to speed. That way, employees can begin performing their duties earlier on in the onboarding process.
3. Adaptations from COVID will continue
Throughout the last couple of years, we saw a spike in trends such as limiting stayover cleanings, higher standards of sanitization, the increased importance of asset management, and stricter room inspection criteria. While the worst of the pandemic appears to be behind us, some of these adaptations will continue into next year because many guests are now accustomed to them and see them as the standard operating procedure. Similarly, many guests are now used to being able to text with the front desk or use keyless room entry, and there is little desire to go back to the “old way” of doing things.
While many improvements like higher standards for sanitization and inspections were previously driven by brand or management company compliance, we’re now seeing more individual properties taking accountability and pride in making improvements. Not all positive changes come from the top down. Now, many are coming from the bottom up.
It’s great to see that more hotels than ever before are benefiting from technology adoption and seeing improvements in guest satisfaction and staff productivity. I’m looking forward to seeing how these trends grow and evolve in the coming year.