From Greater Connectivity to Robots to Virtual Reality: Growing Tech Trends to Watch for in the Industry
Hotel technology is changing and evolving every year. What seemed like science fiction years ago has turned in the real thing. Innovations like the use of robots, cell phone apps for hotel services, and virtual reality (VR) will grow and become more sophisticated and user-friendly in the year ahead.
"The hotel of the future is smart and centered around elevating the customer experience," said Pete Sena, founder and chief executive officer of Digital Surgeons, a global innovation and experience design company. "I believe the two biggest shifts we’re going to see in the hospitality industry are the role that data and technology play in how hotels prepare, predict and service their guests; and the increased focus on personalized customer centered experiences that drive loyalty and repeat engagement from customer."
Here are some growing tech trends to watch next year:
Next year will see a greater use of VR in various applications in the hotel industry, said Jonathan Wilson, vice president of customer experience and innovation at Hilton Hotels & Resorts. In fitness centers, for example, guests will be able to "get on a treadmill with a headset and see themselves running through the Amazon, instead of looking at a parking lot." VR also will be utilized in training. Housekeepers will be able to use VR headsets to see how to properly make a bed or push a cart without hurting themselves.
MOBILE DEVICES AND CONNECTIVITY
There will be greater connectivity, with more guests being able to easily use cell phone apps to order items like food or a spa treatment at a hotel, Wilson added. The increased role of the mobile-device will serve as both a travel companion and booking engine from the data as well, Sena said.
In addition, guests will arrive with an average of three devices that will need to connect to the Internet, said Scott Watson, executive vice president of M3, a cloud-based financial solution company for the hotel industry. High Wi-Fi quality and availability has been a recurring demand of guests and this demand will only grow in 2019.
"Rooms can be spotless, food can be a culinary delight, and the staff can deliver 5-star service - but a poor Wi-Fi experience will tank guest satisfaction," Watson noted.
Robots will actually drive revenue - such as smart chat-bots and door-to-door delivery robots for room service, Sena noted.
"I also would like to use some robots for jobs like vacuuming rooms," said Robert Rauch, chief executive officer and founder of RAR Hospitality. "The repetitious job of vacuuming is where most of the workmen's comp claims are, since constant vacuuming hurts the lower back."
BETTER USE OF DATA AND GUEST FEEDBACK
Hotels also will have offer easy and near real-time feedback opportunities, rather than long surveys, Sena added. Instead of long surveys, simple emoji responses will be more relevant and allow fast reply to guests. Hotel general managers will be able to turn their customer feedback into measurable and actionable metrics.
In general, hoteliers will continue to look for products and services that make their lives easier while providing more data, and accurate data, helping to make informed operational and financial decisions for the owners of the hotels without sacrificing the guest experience, Watson said.
"When it comes to accounting and overall fiscal management, hoteliers will be seeking technology solutions that are specific to hotels," Watson said. By implementing hotel-specific technology, they can speed up financial processes, improve visibility and transparency, and implement comprehensive tools without investing in customization."
And, having an industry specific software in place allows hoteliers to pinpoint inefficiencies and significantly reduce expenses at both the property and portfolio levels, Watson said. Technology products and services that support a hotelier’s ability to have accurate and timely financials, proactively manage labor costs, and support a strong operational process will continue to be hot items in 2019.