Technology has made inroads into the lives of all in an unbelievably magical way, with almost every industry progressing at a rapid pace with its constant deployment. Having already transformed the landscape of the hospitality industry, the rapid use of technology has taken customer experience to the next level, by ensuring that the ever-evolving expectations of the guests are being met. The future looks certainly different and exciting, with more innovations waiting down the road, accommodating the fast paced lifestyles of the masses.
Needless to say, the hotels of today are fairly advanced as compared to the hotels of yesterday. And going forward, with the current widespread technology revolution, the hotels of tomorrow will be unique in their own ways, bringing a whole new breath of fresh air for travelers. The future lies with the technology-equipped hotels, which are going to lead the race, benefiting the industry with increased hotel bookings, increased RevPAR and ADR; thereby generating more revenue for hotels.
In this current age of non-stop innovation and disruption, the needs and demands of the travelers are also evolving, where they look forward to a more personalized experience now, while also demanding relevant and meaningful information, presented to them in the most simplified manner. The increased use of the mobile app, website, and social media in hospitality is already playing a big role in indulging with the guests, aiming to heighten their experiences. It is important for the revenue managers of the hotels to well optimize all the available channels, so that the potential guests are easily able to locate the hotel, without any trouble.
Globally, various countries are technologically superior and are strongly driving growth on the basis of innovation. Hosts of facilities are already being offered by the hoteliers like tech-enabled rooms providing Wi-Fi, independent iPad, etc. The check-in methods have also evolved, with mobile phones typically acting as room keys for the guests, giving them the freedom to choose their rooms and even unlock their doors using their mobile devices. What’s more, they can even review and settle their final bills using their smartphone. All this helps them skip the cumbersome front office interactions, thus saving them a lot of time spent in check-in formalities.
The concierge services in some of the hotels also seem to have taken an online avatar, where a whole range of information like area maps, flight information, entertainment options in the city, etc. is straightaway shared on the guests’ smartphones. Well, everything seems to be at the fingertips of the travelers.
Most of the hotels are also upgrading their direct booking software, as globally, 65.4% of bookings take place through the hotel’s direct website than via OTAs and other third-party channels (Statistic Brain). Bookings through mobile have grown by leaps and bounds, and in overall travel, they have grown by 1700% between 2011 and 2015, moving from 1% to 18% of online revenues (Frederic Gonzalo, 2016). The last-minute booking software is also being made robust since estimates reveal that 65% of the tourists book hotel reservations for the same day on a mobile device.
A huge opportunity to tap, certainly!
Undoubtedly, the digital age hotels are investing hugely in systems and technologies and also generating greater revenues. Morgan Stanley Research estimated that the global hotel industry saw revenues of $570 billion last year. The hotels of today are leaving no stone unturned to stay extra connected with the guest, right from the stage when they start planning their travel till the time they finally bid adieu. For this cause, hotels are opting for seamlessly integrated multiple systems and are working towards providing greater automation and self-service options to the guests, adding choice, convenience and value to their stay. The trend is surely going to stay in the future as well, with forward-thinking hotels already anticipating the next game-changing trends well in advance and preparing for the future accordingly. This approach is important, as any negligent service more often than not, might lead to consumer fatigue and boredom linked to unimaginative or needless choices and will eventually impact hotel’s bottom-line.
Yes, the definition of customer experience in the hospitality industry has changed beyond expectations and imagination. However, it would be bizarre to even think that the role of the human element and personal interactions with the staff is dwindling. In fact, rather than acting as a substitute for customer service, technology actually complements the existing hotel services to deliver a WOW!!! experience to the guests, thus building long-term relations, and in turn increasing hotel sales.
With seeds of change being sown each day, the hotels of today are striving hard to provide utmost comfort and convenience to their guests and become a perfect ‘home away from home’ destination for travelers, by nourishing the sprouts of technology every now and then.
The ultimate aim is to drive value to both, the travelers and to the hotel. Perhaps, it is the beginning of a silent revolution in the hotel industry. Watch this space a few years from now. A few bright stars will come up and would make a mark universally by following the “new way” of doing hospitality business driven solely by guest experience and technology.