Tech Trends in the Hospitality Industry from Reservations.com Co-Founder
Technology has proliferated all areas of our lives, so it’s no surprise it’s radically transforming the hospitality industry and the way we travel.
It’s changed the way we learn about destinations, book travel, stay in a hotel and experience a new place. As the industry continues to move in a more tech-focused direction, the team at Reservations.com has highlighted some of the top trends businesses and consumers are experiencing throughout the travel and hospitality sectors.
In the past, travel inspiration came from newspapers, magazine articles and travel TV shows, but today it comes from digital publications, bloggers and social media. We rely on the average traveler’s recommendation more than a star rating. Because the source of our travel information is digital, technology that allows a consumer to read about something and book directly from that source is being utilized. Meaning, you can see a post on Instagram and with one click get to a booking engine. Once there, a traveler could conceivably reserve a hotel, tours, restaurants, and more, reducing vacation planning to one click and one site.
Online booking sites are also popular amongst frequent travelers, in the hopes of securing discounted rates for hotels or flights.
When booking travel, consumers will see an increase in AI chatbot technology. Acting as virtual booking assistants, these chatbots can answer a wide range of questions that used to require a human agent.
AI is also the behind the scenes driver in the trend towards personalization to help amplify the customer experience. Today’s guest wants tailored services. An automated survey to get preferences for a stay can give the hotel a wealth of important information. For example, AI can be used when a guest is on property to create highly specialized offers. Coupled with location sensing, a guest could receive a unique spa offer while walking by the spa or a coupon for the boutique when they are near the shop.
Hotels are increasingly using IoT (Internet of Things) to facilitate and expand the in-hotel experience. Self-service check-in kiosks, smartphone-controlled door locks, energy management systems, automatic drapes and lighting are just some examples in the modern hotel room.
With security an ever-present concern worldwide, it’s no surprise that hotels are finding ways to incorporate facial recognition technology to make the guest experience safer and easier. For example, at select Marriott properties in China, guests scan their ID at a self-serve check-in kiosk, a camera verifies that the person matches the ID and room keys are printed. This technology is also in use in the Global Entry program, allowing pre-authorized travelers to bypass standard custom lines.
Home-based gadgets like Alexa are branching into the hospitality sector. Alexa for hospitality can integrate with hotel services so a guest can ask Alexa to order room service, request housekeeping, control room lighting, contact the concierge or check out.
360-degree tours of a hotel can give a guest the most immersive way possible to illustrate what the hotel has to offer. Most industry experts believe this technology will become compulsory for hotel marketing. It’s especially helpful in instances like destination wedding planning or corporate event planning.
While automation is clearly revolutionizing the hospitality industry, smart businesses still realize that the hospitality is about service. Machines can only go so far. People still want human service and interaction. The companies that will succeed will blend the science of new technology with the art of exceptional human service to create memorable travel moments.