The Hospitality industry is in constant evolution by both the needs of holidaymakers’ and the choices available to them. While the essence of hotel customer service has remained the fairly the same over the years, the future of hospitality will in a large part be driven by technological changes that bring convenience to the fingertips of millennials.
Personalization for example, is no longer just a buzz word but perhaps one of the most important aspects of the hospitality experience. In the months and years ahead, there is little doubt that hotels will need to be deliver individual experiences for families, couples or even business travelers in order to not only stay afloat, but also excel in world that is quickly evolving.
But that’s just the start. Here’s our take on what lies ahead in the future of hospitality.
HIGH-SPEED VR ENTERTAINMENT
One of the basic (yet most important) perks that hotels have started providing is access to Hotel WiFi, free of charge. This sounds trivial enough, but when you think about it, after all, free internet wasn’t standard practice just a few short years ago. This will percolate into other hospitality segment with broadband services undergoing drastic price reduction and mobile devices becoming ubiquitous. The merging of these two will lead to a need breed of high-speed entertainment for the guests such as the inclusion of VR access.
We’re already starting to see this today, as VR products make their way into a variety of markets, the hotel industry is also embracing the new technology. Recently, Marriott Hotels and Resorts, Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn Express, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts and Airbnb have all incorporated VR into the guest experience. Marriott Hotels & Resorts launched a VR-based guest service in 2015, dubbed VRoom Service, which allows guests to order virtual-reality experiences to their rooms. VRoom Service — created in collaboration with Samsung — offers guests a Samsung Gear VR headset and accompanying headphones delivered to their room.
In the not-so-distant future, we can expect to see people carrying around their personal VR gear much the same way everyone now has a smartphone. “Head-mounted displays are about to really hit the mainstream,” says Adrian Slobin, Global Initiative lead at Boston-based tech marketing and consultancy firm SapientNitro. “They’re going to get cheaper and be given away with cell-phone contracts. Pretty soon it will just be one more piece of gear in your life. Where consumers are, brands are going to go.”
SOCIAL INFLUENCING OUR TRAVEL PLANS
Travelers will increasingly seek to combine both business and pleasure, and hotels or hospitality chains will need to adopt to the tastes of these different segments. These experiences will be driven in large part due to guests sharing their feedback through consumer travel technologies and the increase of social media and travel review sites such as Tripadvisor.
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Popular travel websites are constantly being reviewed by the travelers to determine the experience of their peers and acquaintances, increasing the importance for hoteliers to build a positive brand image and how their establishment is perceived online, which is the reason why some chains are investing significantly in order to keep their flags high on the social networking sites.
- As of July 2017, Facebook was the most popular social networking site with an impressive 2 billion active daily users.
- With near 500 million daily users, Instagram is a force to be reckoned with. This platform can be integrated into Facebook advertising campaigns, plus it is a highly interactive and visual way to capture the attention of potential guests.
- Advertising to Facebook users is crucial to enhancing your hotel’s brand awareness and overall digital presence.
- Facebook ads alone claim over 35% of all display advertising spending in the US on an annual basis, followed by Google, who claims only about 40% as much in display ad revenue as Facebook.
- Facebook offers robust targeting, personalization and reporting capabilities that make reaching your target audience simple.
- Based on demographics and other data collected from Facebook users, Facebook Advertising offers a number of campaign objectives that determine the way a “Result” is defined in a given campaign. Facebook will deliver ads to those users within your audience that it has determined to be the most likely to produce the desired result.
INCREASED COMFORT AND TRANSPORTATION
Another big change that is already on the anvil is tying up with relevant and useful companies for increasing customer comfort. The tie-up with popular cab-hailing apps globally is a part of a hotel’s strategy to assist customers in comfortably moving about their places of preference. Airbnb, one of the most valued startups globally, does not own any hotel but brings customers from all over the world as it combines comfort, intuitiveness and a bouquet of options at a fraction of the hotel costs in a city.
This is a huge metamorphosis for the industry, which traditionally runs by acquiring huge lands and making constructions along with popularizing the property through various means. The model of Airbnb is also allowing customers to be closer culturally to a city, especially if they are travelling for recreation. This is a big change from the traditional models of hospitality, when customer experience would be driven by the hotels per se. In simple terms, customers are choosing what kind of services they would like to avail and accordingly choosing the price, location and the amenities they would need according to the duration of the stay.
PERSONAL VOICE ASSISTANTS
One of the unique things that hotels are adopting in order to bring unique experiences to customers is bringing in technology in the room like the Amazon Echo or basically a voice-controlled options for heating, air conditioning, alarms, lighting among others. Hence, the costs on installing buttons and reducing the hassle for customers to take an effort towards switches will only reduce.
The onslaught of Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence, which is being seen increasingly in many industries, is going to affect the hospitality industry as well. Early movers in this space may be lauded and recognized as unique as compared to the ones, who remain tardy.
TRADITIONAL SERVICE WITH A TOUCH OF TECH
However, having said all of the above, many experts are of the view that good-old hospitality and customer service will continue to be the driving force for hotel chains who’ve already made a name on that very virtue. That being said, technology will play an increasingly disruptive role and of course bring in additional guests to hotel chains.