American Airlines Group Inc. recently divulged that 47 of the airline’s 50 largest corporate accounts have said they plan to resume traveling this year, a sure sign that business travel is back on the agenda for big corporations. This clear increase in confidence around future bookings should be inspiring for both employers and hospitality businesses. But business travelers will be expecting some significant changes in the way they interact with hotels both before and during their stay. Here are three technology trends that will come to the fore in the near future.
- Tailored search platforms
What has really come into its own and will continue to mature are search platforms tailored to the corporate traveler, making it much faster to find suitable properties with the help of technology.
For individuals trying their hand at ‘digital nomadism,’ Airbnb is making it simpler to find work-ready homes with fast WiFi and a dedicated office space through its ‘For Work' search filter. But, there are other emerging sites like Flatio and 2nd Address that also cater to the same market.
For mobility and other professionals booking travel for companies on a much larger scale, this search process becomes more complex. Empowering decision makers with the right tools to make smart choices for their mobile employees, particularly when their duty of care is so important, will help drive confidence in the industry.
- A contactless experience
The “contactless” or “frictionless” experience was something business travelers had already been trying before COVID began. Self-service check-in at airports, for example, has been successful in saving travelers time and fuss when on a busy schedule. Now contactless technology will become the norm in corporate travel beyond airports and into accommodations to help people navigate the post-COVID world.
Smart locks are a great example of creating the ability for a ‘self-service’ style check-in. Software can also enable keyless entry through a smartphone, verifying guest identification, taking payment and unlocking rooms. Reducing contact with touchpoints is not only safer in the current environment but is convenient to use for both the user and implementer— such software can generally be seamlessly integrated with an existing PMS.
The contactless experience doesn’t just stop at check-in but will permeate the entire stay experience for business travelers, in particular for communicating between guests and property managers.
SMS messaging technology is facilitating this in the hospitality industry as a quick and easy way to communicate key information to guests. This can involve anything such as check-in and out reminders, letting travelers know their room or property is ready early or notifying them that their room has been or is being cleaned — the latter of which we have recently implemented at Reside Worldwide properties with a new Cleaning Service Notification system.
Voice-activated technology is also creating a more futuristic communication experience, particularly in hotels. Brands like Marriott and the Viceroy Group have begun adapting smart-home technology like Amazon’s Alexa to enable guests to ask for room service or extra amenities.
- Well-being technology
Expectations of the level of cleanliness provided by the hospitality industry have never been higher. For those required to travel for work this is particularly important as their employers will be conscious to ensure every possible preventative measure against Covid-19 has been taken during their trip, however long or short.
Helpfully, new technology is providing peace of mind when it comes to cleaning. Electrostatic sprayers are being used more to perform disinfecting cleans. Utilizing power-assisted spraying machinery, these ensure a deeper, wider, more targeted sanitization.
Going one step further, tech solutions for well-being are taking off in a big way within the corporate travel sector. This isn't just about hygiene but the whole well-being of the human body, from the physical to the mental.
One company is helping hospitality brands transform indoor environments. Its technology can monitor and set standards for air and water quality and exposure to germs and allergens, but can also plug into the devices in the room that can help business travelers set sleep patterns, offer guided meditation and more.
What’s interesting is that all three of these tech trends had their beginnings before the pandemic. But now, as the lines between travel and work become blurred, leisure travelers are also wanting the same search functionality, contactless tech and well-being tech that was previously the domain of time-poor business travelers. This should be driving a huge amount of confidence for employers globally that the hospitality industry is ready to receive their employees again post-pandemic.
About Lee Curtis
Lee Curtis, CCHP, co-founded Reside Worldwide, Inc. in November 2017 having previously been President of ABODA Global Housing Management (now ABODA by RESIDE). Lee is also active in the corporate housing industry, serving as the current Chairman of the Corporate Housing Providers Association (CHPA) board of directors.