The idea of aligning your hotel with the future is a daunting one for many operators. Knowing exactly what a hotel of the future is and how much time is involved in this progression isn’t easy.
Making sure your business remains successful boils down to keeping your finger on the pulse of the industry. What are the current trends among travellers? And what are experts in the industry predicting? Combine this with a keen eye towards technology developments and you’ll start to see how you move nimbly with the times.
As for the right time to make changes; move too soon on an unfounded rumour and you risk ‘choosing the wrong side’, move too late and your competitors have an edge.
With that being said, there’s no time like the present to make some upgrades regarding your hotel service and amenities. Here’s some helpful guidance on understanding what traveller and technology insights will allow your hotel to thrive in the future.
The travel journey is now increasingly dominated by technology
Such is the dominance of digital tech now, that any restriction on it has become a major pain point for travellers, especially millennials.
A survey from TravelPort canvassed 11,000 travellers and found 44% of British millennial business travellers consider being unable to access booking information at all times across their digital devices to be one of their frustrations when travelling. A further 38% are vexed by a lack of personalisation in travel recommendations based on their past preferences.
A rise in bleisure travel among young people also means technology use is shifting, with millennials taking charge of their itineraries and performing their own travel research. The most pertinent stats to be aware of include:
- 82% will review friends’ travel videos and pictures on social media before making a final decision
- 56% use voice search technology throughout the travel planning process
- 51% will use desktop or laptop to finalise travel arrangements
- 27% say they now book business travel online through their smartphone and 23% use tablet devices
- More than 85% use social media apps and instant messaging apps, while around 80% use destination guide and travel review apps
According to Google, another one billion people globally will come online in emerging markets by 2021. For most of these, a mobile device will be their only way of computing. This means the onus is now on hotels and travel companies to be mobile-first when it comes to improving the guest booking experience.
Hotels should start using fringe technology more commonly
In a short space of time the concept of a ‘smart’ hotel has gone from seeming like it’s on the horizon, to being on our doorstep. It’s now a reality that technology can perform many customer service actions, and do it in a way that pleases guests more than ever.
What’s envisioned for a smart hotel, and what is certainly a huge fad at the moment, is for all hotel room functions to be controlled from an app, smartphone, or tablet. If we look further ahead it’s expected that by 2060, the hotel room we know today will no longer exist. Instead, rooms may feature:
- Sensors attuned to guests
- Room keys that use facial recognition
- A television that talks back
- Touch screen surfaces everywhere
- Bathrooms with smart toilets and mirrors that stream real-time content
- Wireless temperature controls that automatically adjust
The catalyst of this will be an advancement in technology, science, design, and entertainment occurring at the same time, meaning the whole travel experience will change.
But there’s nothing stopping your hotel becoming a smart hotel right now.
Here are four existing trends that have become a realistic option for hotels wanting to spice up their wow factor.
- Virtual reality
VR has been in development for a long time, but is now at a stage where it can prove extremely useful for hotel marketing. Travellers are hungry for as much information as possible when making travel decisions, and VR can deliver everything they want by providing a trial experience of destinations and hotels from a customer’s living room. It’s the perfect tool to awaken the imagination of a potential guest.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Another revolutionary idea that’s been worked on for many years already but is now just seeing commercial applications. The most common way to take advantage of artificial intelligence (AI) right now is through the use of chatbots, and experimentation with physical AI hotel staff. Chatbots can ease a lot of pressure on hotel staff and give guests the instant, convenient response they often desire.
- Voice search
According to Forbes, voice search is one of the top travel trends of 2018. Travellers all over the world seem to be relying on these type of devices more and more every day, and it makes sense. They have the ability to make everything easier and faster.
- Internet of Things (IoT)
Embedding items and appliances with electronics and connectivity is a very powerful way to make life easier and more dynamic. Allowing phones, televisions, lights, air conditioning, beds, windows etc. to work together under the control of a guest increases efficiency and makes the hotel almost literally come alive.
Click here to read about some hotels who have already made the leap and are using game-changing tactics to delight guests.