2022 Digitalized
Advertisement
01/06/2022

Hospitality Tech in 2022: What Does the Future Hold?

Check out what some of your peers have to say and then send us your predictions!
Michal Christine Escobar
Senior Editor (Hotels)
Michal Christine  Escobar  profile picture

One of the best things about a new year is the possibility it holds to be better, exciting, different and fun. This year is no exception, and to get our industry excited about what the future holds – Hospitality Technology reached out to a few key industry players to get their opinion on what we can expect in 2022 for our industry.

We’d love to add your thoughts to this list! Feel free to email me (mescobar at ensembleiq.com) and check back on this article regularly in January to see what your industry peers have to say!

PERSONALIZATION & LOYALTY

Digital integration cultivates a more human connection. It may sound counterintuitive but by optimizing technology, and informed with data, it allows humans to connect more intently. Tech also reinforces brand & culture; creates narrative around a place that can be experienced in different ways by various guests. We’re seeing more hotels beginning to future-proof their establishments by integrating technology into their designs. 

New technology also helps to free up physical spaces for renovations as more hotel functions, like concierge service, become virtual. When offering a hybrid “physical-digital” experience, hotels can cultivate guest loyalty through thoughtfully personalized service. For example, hotels are enabling guests to connect to their personal online services seamlessly and safely (ex: Amazon's Alexa, Netflix) on devices in hotel spaces.  Hotels are also utilizing location-based technologies to extend F&B service into unused areas, empowering guest to access menus and order on their mobile devices and have the food delivered. 

-- Tom Ito, Hospitality Leader at Gensler

AUTOMATION

In 2022, technologies that automate and improve hotel operations and eliminate redundant costs will be front and center. Hotels are experiencing severe labor shortages in this post-pandemic recovery period. Hoteliers can reduce demand on in-house operations and their associates by introducing more technology like mobile apps, digital kiosks and voice assistants that can assist with check-ins/check-outs, addressing guest requests and even aiding in guest upsells. 

-- Speleos Dravllias, CRO of Nomadix


As the labor shortage continues and operators work to recoup losses from the pandemic, more hotels will blend traditional services with tech to operate more efficiently and run-on fewer resources. The front desk will become obsolete with the integration of contactless check-in, on-demand cleaning services through an app versus daily cleaning, etc., freeing up more resources to focus on the guest experience.

-- Àngel R. Tena, Vice President of Real Estate & Business Development at Jurny

IMPROVED EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

Many hourly workers have a slight financial cushion from the pandemic, giving them the ability to think past the day to day and focus more on the future, and what matters to them. Hourly workers are realizing that they can and should expect more from their employers. Employees are going to gravitate towards businesses that offer them more - whether it be higher pay, better benefits, career advancement opportunities, a more flexible schedule, etc.

Employers will have to respond to this trend of the white collar-ization of blue-collar jobs. Historically, these types of benefits have been reserved for white collar workers. But now, hourly, blue-collar workers are experiencing this “great awakening.” The pandemic has brought to light the value they bring not just to their respective companies, but to their communities and this country as a whole. They’ve been in the thick of it for the better part of two years, risking becoming exposed to the virus in order to keep the country running. And as a result, they are now demanding the same benefits and opportunities traditionally reserved for white-collar, office jobs. 

-- Mathieu Stevenson, CEO of Snagajob

CRUISE SHIPS LEAD THE WAY IN DIGITAL BANKING

The COVID-19 pandemic compelled cruise ship workers to adopt digital banking. The health and safety risks involved in using a cash currency caused an increase of 90% adoption of digital over cash. We hypothesize that they will maintain these new habits beyond the pandemic because they've now discovered how easy and secure it is to use digital services. In the US, we quickly adopted QR codes and contactless delivery methods to cope with pandemic-related disruption. New methods can seem complicated at first, but now we cannot imagine life without these conveniences.

-- John Markendorf, Senior Vice President of Operations, Brightwell

REIMAGINING CONVENTIONS

As we see a return to business travel, hotels are going to reimagine their meeting rooms and multipurpose areas. Instead of indoor exhibition calls, “hybrid conventions” will become the new norm with more virtual connectivity and integration with outdoor areas, which will require investing in the technology to ensure a seamless guest experience

-- Tom Ito, Hospitality Leader at Gensler

DIGITAL TRAVEL PLANS

Due to the pandemic, consumer travel behavior has changed, and as the population begins to travel again globally (pending the impact of the Omicron variant on the continued decline of Covid), we’ll begin to see and learn exactly what behaviors will continue, shift or completely change moving forward. What we know for sure is that guests want personalized, easy, and amazing experiences, from the first dream of the trip through to completion, and the ability to do it all digitally. A majority of consumer interactions take place digitally, so it’s no surprise consumers expect each step of the customer service process—from booking airline tickets to selecting excursions—to be seamless.

--  Elle Kross, Director, Strategy at Movable Ink 

DIGITAL CHECK-IN & TECHNOLOGY ADVANCEMENTS

With the advent of new booking processes, many Sightline hotels have transitioned over to contactless check-ins, though human interaction is at the heart of the hospitality industry and cannot be replicated by a robot. Despite the constant advances in technology, the industry has yet to see a drop in the number of jobs. As new technology emerges, new jobs are being created to support these. We may see a loss in one area of employment, but a gain in other areas.

-- Kirk Pederson, President of Sightline Hospitality

ANALYTICS

The use of analytics will continue to be paramount to understanding the needs of the guest while on the hotel property. However, in 2022 hotels will put more of an emphasis on the analytics and trends gathered once the guests arrive on-site, not just during the pre-booking process. Being able to address preferences and then work to upsell based on previous purchases, can help create better satisfaction and increase spending with each guest. By knowing the trends, hotels can more easily invest in those areas that will ensure the best ROI.

-- Speleos Dravllias, CRO of Nomadix

OTA OPTIMIZATION

The on-demand economy has shifted how consumers make purchasing decisions. They want a seamless, consolidated process, where they can quickly find what they are looking for at a glance (customer reviews, images and price comparisons). In order for independent and boutique hotels to remain competitive, OTA optimization is more important than ever during this pivotal recovery time for the industry. Ultimately, OTAs will help operators reduce marketing spend while helping them attract more guests, particularly millennial and Gen Z travelers. 

-- Àngel R. Tena, Vice President of Real Estate & Business Development at Jurny

SOCIAL LISTENING TOOLS + AI

The growth of customers voicing their opinion on wide-spread platforms like social media means monitoring and social listening products are a must for business-to-consumer businesses. With the amount of people sharing their experiences online, consumer voices are in a widespread environment across multiple platforms and threads whereby it is hard to systematically track a business’s reviews in one place. In 2022, mention monitoring and social listening tools that use AI and is able to sort keywords and mentions by sentiment to allow businesses to effortlessly monitor where their brand, products or even staff are being mentioned online will be an important investment to better monitor where customers are voicing their opinion across the internet.

-- Ed Godfrey, Co-Founder of RepSpert
 

COMPLETE ITINERARY FOCUS

More and more brands are shifting a focus beyond traditional heads in beds objectives to finding ways to extend their brand experience. It’s no longer just about the concierge service helping with restaurant reservations, brands want to be part of customers’ whole stay, helping travelers map out their stay from check-in to check out. Taking a page out of travel agencies’ handbooks, hotels are now trying to not only book guests’ activities, like dinner and spa reservations, or city excursion tours, but leverage all of that data to produce personalized digital itineraries as they look to enhance the overall experience.

-- Elle Kross, Director, Strategy at Movable Ink 

PANIC BUTTONS

2022 will also see increased adoption of panic buttons for employees who enter guestrooms. AHLA's 2018 Five Star Promise set end-of-year 2020 as the target for when US hotels had to deploy employee safety/panic buttons. When COVID hit, this initiative had to be put on hold under the economic strain and uncertainty of the pandemic. Hotels that wish to comply with this initiative without the required technology will need to have two employees enter a guest room together, which will be difficult due to current staffing shortages. 

-- Speleos Dravllias, CRO of Nomadix