In the internet age, with information freely available and customers having the ability to compare hotels easily, those in the hospitality industry need to keep up to date with the latest digital trends. Not only can this help you to keep pace with hotel industry rivals, it can also improve processes and enhance the customer experience you deliver. In this article, you will find details of seven of the most important digital trends to focus on.
8 Digital Trends in the Hospitality Industry
1. Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things refers to everyday devices, which are fitted with internet capabilities, allowing them to send and receive data. This technology is hugely important within the hospitality industry, because it can allow hotels to save on energy costs, while also optimising hotel rooms, without human interference.
Some hotels are using smart energy systems to automatically reduce the power of light bulbs during daylight hours, or to turn off the heating system when rooms are unoccupied, or when occupied rooms reach a certain temperature. It can also be used to optimise temperatures automatically, before guests arrive.
Example: The Internet of Things comes for the hotel network
Find more detailed information about the ‘Internet of Things’ in the hospitality industry in the article “How the Internet of Things (IoT) can Benefit the Hospitality Industry”.
Until relatively recently, the use of robots within workplaces has primarily been limited to manufacturing lines. However, within the hospitality sector, AI-driven robots, which more closely resemble humans, are one of the emerging digital trends and these robots are able to perform a range of complex, ‘intelligent’ tasks.
An exciting examples to date is the Henn-na Hotel in Nagasaki. Dubbed ‘the world’s first robot staffed hotel’, it features an information robot, which provides tourist information, a front desk robot is capable of intelligent communication, a cloak robot stores your belongings, and face recognition system will check you in and prevent losing your key.
Example: A Tour of the World’s First Robot-Staffed Hotel
Find more detailed information and examples about robot use cases in the hospitality industry in the article “8 Examples of Robots Being Used in the Hospitality Industry”.
3. Recognition Technology
Another digital trend within the hospitality industry is Recognition technology. Recognition technology includes everything from facial recognition to finger print or retina scanning, and is growing in popularity in general. Its uses within the hotel industry are numerous, but primarily revolve around speeding up payment processes and reducing the amount of contact with human staff that is needed.
Technology like Face ID and Touch ID from Apple, as well as Amazon Go stores and widespread use of beacon technology have opened up many people’s minds to the possibilities offered through frictionless automation. Moving forward, hotels are likely to use facial recognition for automatic authorisation of payments after leaving the restaurant, or to make the check out process completely automated, avoiding queues.
Example: Facial Recognition Check-in in Marriott China
Find more detailed information about how your business can benefit from facial recognition in the article “4 Use Cases of Facial Recognition in The Hospitality Industry”.
4. Virtual Reality (VR)
One of the coolest digital trends within the hospitality industry is virtual reality. Due to its ability to effectively transport people to a digitally created new environment, virtual reality offers huge potential within the hospitality industry and already a number of hotels are making use of 360 degree video and other virtual reality technology during the booking process and beyond.
On hotel websites, some chains are using VR to allow people to experience what their hotel rooms are like before they book them, facilitating more informed decisions on the size of room they need. Meanwhile, the technology can also be used to provide virtual experiences of local attractions, or as a means of entertainment within hotels.
Example: A Virtual Honeymoon to London and Hawaii
Find more detailed information and examples about how virtual reality can benefit your business in the articles “How Virtual Reality is Transforming the Travel Industry” and “10 Amazing Examples of Virtual Reality Hotel Tours”.
5. Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented reality is a digital trend that shares many similarities with virtual reality, but where VR changes the user’s surroundings entirely, AR instead enhances real-world surroundings, usually with graphical or informational overlays. This can be used by those within the hotel industry to offer a number of advantages to customers.
For instance, imagine having a wall map in your hotel which, when combined with an AR app, allows customers to point their phone at a section of the map and see information about local attractions. Alternatively, some apps allow users to aim their phone at real restaurants in the local area and see customer reviews instantly.
Example: Augmented reality within the hospitality industry
Find more detailed information and examples about how augmented reality can benefit your business in the article “How Augmented Reality is Transforming the Hospitality Industry”.
6. Chatbots & Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Chatbots deliver artificially intelligent responses to customer questions and queries, and this is one of the most advantageous digital trends in the hospitality industry today. After all, it means simple questions can be answered without a human agent, improving response times and freeing human reps up to tackle tougher issues.
Artificial intelligence can also be used to automatically analyse data, assist with a revenue management strategy, or provide more personalised offers to customers based on their preferences. Hilton, meanwhile, have even introduced an artificially intelligent robot, which can respond to human speech and answer questions.
Example: Hilton and IBM pilot “Connie”
Find more detailed information and examples about artificial intelligence use cases in the hospitality industry in the article “How to use Artificial Intelligence in the Hospitality Industry”.
7. Mobile Integration
Most customers own smartphones and they are conditioned to being able to use them for everything from requesting an Uber to ordering food. Those in the hospitality industry need to cater for this and a dedicated hotel app can go a long way, allowing guests to reserve restaurant tables, order room service and book massage or spa sessions.
While self-service can help to improve the customer experience, apps can also be used to create loyalty programmes, generating more repeat business. Moreover, the technology can be paired with the aforementioned capabilities provided by the Internet of Things, allowing customers to control heating and lighting from the app too.
Example: Discover handy
8. Reputation Management
Finally, in an age where around 65 percent of customers will check online reviews before making a hotel booking, reputation management has emerged as one of the most important digital trends of all. There are several ways that those within the hotel industry can manage reviews, but it requires a long-term approach.
Respond to reviews on popular review platforms and acknowledge when guests have genuine cause for complaint. Take action to address their complaints to avoid similar reviews in future. It is also important to encourage happy guests to leave reviews too, and this can be done at the check out desk, or via email. Keep your listings on online review platforms up-to-date, include reviews on your own website and strive deliver excellent customer service.
Example: 4 Reputation Management Challenges Every Hotel Manager Faces
Find more detailed information about how to manage online hotel reviews in the article “9 Tips to Manage Online Hotel Reviews”.
By understanding and embracing the digital trends in this article, you can stay competitive in the hospitality industry and even gain an advantage over some of your competitors. All of the trends mentioned can help to improve the customer experience, enhance your reputation for customer service and/or optimise revenue generation.