The hotel industry is not something that usually comes up in conversations when you hear about groundbreaking technological innovations – after all, it is one of the oldest and most conservative industries out there. It has been around for so long that it is hard to think of any ways to introduce significant changes – however, this does not mean that it is completely averse to technology.
Hotels can improve their performance through the adoption of new technological solutions – the difference from most other industries is that one applies them not to change the customer’s experience altogether, but to perfect what already exists. Hotel software nowadays along with one for other industries has developed to simplify the internal work of the hotel and the interaction between employees and guests. In this article, we will cover some of the most promising ways of enhancing a hotel’s performance and its guests’ experience.
While face recognition technology is still far from being a ubiquitous part of customer experience, the hospitality industry has a lot to gain from adopting it early on. In addition to the more obvious benefits, such as greater security and privacy, it has other uses: for example, as an additional verification method during payments or as a basis for gathering feedback and data about clients. By counting how many people are at each location at any given time and checking their demographics, the hotel can check the effectiveness of their promotional efforts and adjust them.
The idea of using tablets to engage one’s clients is not new. However, in the case of hotels, things are not that simple – you do not use them just to complete a transaction. Potential uses of tablets in the hospitality industry are manifold. They can interactively tell the guests about all the services and facilities offered by your hotel, offer a way to carry out and finalize transactions without them having to go out of their rooms, provide a means for instant communication between them and the hotel’s personnel, and much more.
The number of potential functions and uses means that selecting a tablet for your hotel is serious business. The device should be specifically designed with hotel use in mind – it will not do to take any consumer tablet and install some kind of app on it. It may look like a passable solution in theory, but causes more headaches than it is worth: consumer models are prone to hacking attempts and quickly get obsolete. Fortunately, today you have a broad selection of hotel tablets to choose from, such as SuitePad, Crave Interactive, and Volo.
Branded Hotel Apps
For most people, a smartphone is an extension of themselves, which means that nothing can be more natural than to try and enhance their experience of staying in a hotel by downloading a specialized app and seeing what it can do. Hotels have been quick to catch on to this and compete against each other in offering them ever greater levels of connectivity. Today hotel apps can be used for anything from virtual payments and contacting a concierge to serving as room keys and providing tours of the hotel premises. Their primary purpose, however, is to minimize the wait and waiting in queues – when it is properly arranged, a guest can pay for the room, get the key, check-in, stay the allotted time, and check out without ever going to reception and interacting with the staff.
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Virtual Reality (VR)
The application of virtual reality in the hospitality industry is straightforward but no less exciting because of it. One of the most common things causing guests misgivings when they choose whether to stay in a hotel (or a particular room) or not is not knowing what it is like. If they cannot find confirmation from a source they trust (e.g., a friend or acquaintance), they may look elsewhere and try a more familiar option. If you offer a 360° tour of the room in question (or the hotel’s premises, including the views out of windows), they will be able to see for themselves what they are getting and make a decision without having to resort to other sources of information.
Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented reality technology is still in its early stages of development, and businesses, including hotels, are only beginning to find ways of introducing it into their customer experiences. However, it already shows great potential: it can, for example, offer guests interactive elements they can use with their smartphones (like maps, directions, and points of interest) or information about the hotel that is relevant to where they are located in the hotel (e.g., current menu while they are in a restaurant).
Smart Hotels and Smart Rooms
The Internet of Things is rapidly becoming an integral part of our lives and, as is the case with everything that makes life more convenient, the hospitality industry should be among the first to adopt the new solutions. You have a whole host of possibilities to improve the customer experience in small and big ways: from arranging voice control for all the elements of a room to fine-tuning the experience for return guests based on the information collected about them during previous stays (such as preferred room temperature, favorite TV channels and usual wake-up time).
On the one hand, customers value real-time interaction. On the other hand, having enough staff members on standby to meet all the customers’ needs 24/7 is expensive and often impossible. Delays and downtimes are inevitable. Chatbots can make a significant contribution to alleviating these concerns. By delegating the majority of simpler interactions with guests to them, you take a load off your staff and ensure that customers needing help are going to get it immediately.
These are just some of the most promising directions in which hotel technology can move this year. Nobody prevents you from investigating other possibilities (AI, big data, wireless charging, and robotics, to name just a few) – as long as it enhances customer experience, there is no good reason not to try it!