It can sometimes seem hard to keep up with all the latest technological advances available to hoteliers. Indeed, it’s not always easy to be sure which technologies are relatively well-established, and which are on the cutting edge of fantasy – which are about to be rendered obsolete, and which could really change the way you operate for the better.
One important point to remember is that the technology in itself is not significant – the key lies in how it is used to achieve your specific hospitality-related aims. That is, if your traditional goal is to exceed your guests’ expectations, you might find a technological application which can help you achieve precisely this. Start with the objective and make it a reality with the latest innovation – but be very wary of the opposite approach where you start out with the technology, impressive though it may be, and try to find a use for it.
Hotelintel.co would like to take a look at six examples of the kind of technology hoteliers might want to try – but with two questions in mind. Do they make your guests’ experience better, or just make your experience better? And are they solutions to a problem, or solutions looking for a problem?
The AI concierge has been introduced by Hilton Worldwide and Edwardian Hotels, and while there is nothing new about virtual assistants, the great leap forward in this case is that the AI concierge learns from its interactions with guests to improve its responses. Objective early reports suggest that some travelers are entertained by the concept – fun to play with but not exactly necessary. Give it the ability to handle financial transactions and communicate in different languages and it might begin to serve a real purpose, but we’d be waiting to see how it develops because you’d have to think that what’s available now won’t compare with what might be just around the corner.
Mobile Communications Technology
This field is already well-established and a majority of guests are familiar with their own devices, so it’s just a matter of tapping into existing guest behavior to enhance the experience you can offer. Smartphones speed up communication, and can continue to serve this purpose in hotels, making it faster and easier for guests and staff to interact and handle requests. Furthermore, if most people choose to go online to complete processes such as check-in, that leaves staff with a little more time to serve those who prefer the old-fashioned approach. The technology works, makes everyone’s experience better, and can be applied to improve a wide range of simple processes. Do it.
Analytics and Big Data
Hotels now collect enormous quantities of data, and to a certain extent these data are answers looking for questions. What would you like to do? Improve the guest experience? Raise occupancy? Become more profitable? Reduce costs? Data analysis can help to address any and all of these issues, but the ability to gather and process data is only half the story. It takes much more to be able to interpret the information, and to use these insights to formulate strategies which will achieve your goals. In this case we have a great tool, and plenty of jobs for the tool to do – we just need to find a capable operator. Property management systems developed by professionals such as Hotelogix can help hoteliers to make the best use of big data, so the information you collect can be applied to bring about the improvements you want to see.
The Internet of Things
Marriott and Hilton both believe that smart hotel rooms are the future and are working to integrate everything that possibly be automated into a single interconnected system. The heating, the lights, the TV, the locks, the curtains will all be remotely controlled to provide a superior personalized experience where the room knows the preferences of the guest. It might well work, but fitting this kind of technology to existing hotels will be expensive and time-consuming, although operational cost savings are likely once the system is up and running. For new builds, the state-of-the-art can be incorporated, but as was the case with AI, this is a rapidly evolving field where today’s smart room may quickly be next year’s obsolete room. Once the novelty wears off, will customers find the technology indispensable, or just expensive and irrelevant? And furthermore, for all the talk of personalization, technology remains the epitome of impersonal.
VR is a great example of something hotels must follow very closely simply because consumers will be ready to embrace VR in other aspects of their lives. The challenge is to figure out exactly how VR will be used in hospitality. An industry that sells genuine experiences must learn how to use virtual ones to its advantage. Right now, the technology is a little out of the price range of individual users, but this will change in the coming years. To date, hotels have used VR to showcase their properties and facilities, and the most obvious benefit lies in cementing the brand in the minds of interested users.
The cloud is an established technology which is already in widespread use. It allows hotels, and especially groups of hotels, to centralize the handling of their operations, offering time and cost savings over the need to manually update on-premises records of all the daily activities. The cloud-based systems offered by Hotelogix are the perfect example of the level of convenience which is available to hoteliers today. Hotels using the cloud spend less on IT maintenance and staff, they can automate many of the processes, the system is easy to upgrade as the business grows, it can be accessed from absolutely anywhere, and it gives staff the free time they need to offer better service to guests.
This final example is a no-brainer – the cloud works, it’s easy to implement and keep updated, it makes the experience better for guests and hoteliers alike, and it does all the vital jobs you’d be doing anyway, but much more efficiently.
Sponsored by Hotelogix