The most disruptive technologies to the travel hospitality industry in 2018 will be those that are mature enough to truly disrupt business as usual. These technologies will enable hospitality companies to improve the quality of their offerings; streamline operations for their employees; and create more personalized guest experiences. This article from Cognizant discusses three technologies that will make a difference in how forward-looking hospitality providers operate in 2018.
1) Big Data
Big company data lakes, Hadoop clusters and similar buildouts will continue to become operational. Systems leveraging the intelligence big data represents will enable hospitality companies to make smarter decisions, run extremely targeted promotions and better manage real-time inventories and pricing to be in line with market demands. Analytics could help hotels develop touring packages aligned to different guest demographics or even simply provide guests with customized information about local attractions through in-room televisions. To take advantage of commercial solutions in these spaces, companies will need to become more mature in the ways they activate and monetize their big data investments.
2) Internet of Things (IoT) and Automation
The IoT coupled with automation will enable a proliferation of smart spaces. The industry should see increases in the number of smart guest rooms, smart lobbies, smart restaurants, even smart parking. New hotels are being built for energy efficiency and are equipped with modern environmental controls, such as lightbulbs that contain basic sensors.
Hospitality companies may use the capabilities of these sensors, coupled with data analytics, to ease transaction friction and personalize experiences. Imagine beacon technology recognizing a smartphone and alerting a concierge to walk up to a newly arriving guest with a keycard or personalized gift. Sensor-equipped room service trays could alert housekeeping when they cross the room threshold, signaling they are ready for pick up. Room lighting and environmental controls driven by sensors can turn lights off and lower or raise temperatures when guests leave to generate significant power savings.
The more sensors that are in place, the more the industry will be able to deliver personalized guest environments and experiences—such as room environments automatically being customized according to guest preferences. The key capability to capitalizing on smart space technology is having a digital platform that seamlessly knits the guest’s experience in the virtual world with the on-site experience. When a guest enters personal environmental, recreational and food preferences while making a reservation online, the hotel or restaurant must use that data to shape that guest’s physical-world experience, from a customized greeting in the lobby to a snack delivered on time to an itemized itinerary for a local day-trip.
3) Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Chatbots
These tools are becoming a powerful way to manage call center use cases across the travel and hospitality eco-system. The use cases are many and varied: powering online and telephone interactions, taking orders in a drive-through restaurant or for room service. Smart automation in IT operations drives expedited triage and ticket resolution, making systems more available and resilient and enabling faster creation and delivery of new customer-facing services and capabilities.
These three sets of technology will enable companies to continually personalize the guest lifecycle, connecting experiences across the virtual and physical worlds and providing context-driven services—such as delivering real-time offers to a guest that reflect whether she is on the property, in town or on the golf course.
One critical consideration for how disruptive these technologies will be depends on whether a hospitality company has or is adopting foundational technologies, including cloud computing, storage and other services. In addition, micro-services architectures enable these disruptors to scale and make a strong impact. In short, hospitality companies must modernize their existing core systems to take full advantage of these and other, still-developing disruptive technologies. Operating legacy property management, central reservation and point-of-sale systems will hamper a company’s ability to gain full value from new tools while modernizing systems will enable the creation of better customer experiences, marketplace differentiation, and an overall improvement in operating models.