It's no surprise that the future of the hospitality industry will be powered by digital technologies. As in the past few years, mobile will keep on influencing the industry, along with other disruptive technologies that brands over the world will keep on incorporating into its guest offerings.
Here are the technologies that you can expect to make a mark in 2020:
Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the biggest emerging technology trends in the hospitality world. Not only is the staff able to track down and manage valuable inventory within the hotel, but also the Smart Hotel features let the guests and staff better regulate energy consumption and support pro-environment and sustainability initiatives. Besides, Cognizant affirms IoT's potential to drive revenues in a hotel.
In its report, Hospitality in the Digital Era, "Numerous hoteliers that are investing in mobile engagement expect guests will use mobile devices not only for room selection and payment but also as access keys for amenities such as pools and spas." Not only this, IoT-powered beacon technology sends real-time offers to guests' smartphones, thereby encouraging more sales.
Another technology that a lot of hoteliers are experimenting with is artificial intelligence (AI). AI helps hotels interact with guests in a multiple of ways. From using AI-fuelled chatbots to robots at the hotel check-in desks or for room service, hotels are moving toward guest-centric hospitality.
Oracle Hospitality, while talking about the value of AI-enabled devices in hotel settings, notes, "More than a promise, artificial intelligence has been shown to dramatically reduce the need for human assistance when it comes to answering and resolving problems that commonly arise during a guest's stay.
Virtual reality (VR) is being used by hoteliers to blend the digital and physical worlds to create an immersive world for their guests. It doesn't only make travel experiences of guests more seamless; it also entertains them, thereby making VR experiences very popular.
According to Adobe Digital Insights, "At least eight of the largest hotels have tested some kind of VR experience." And, this trend is expected to grow with hotels around the world looking for various ways to incorporate VR into the guest experience. A few of these ways are giving virtual tours by placing users in a simulated hotel and by providing virtual-reality experiences of storytelling in the rooms.
A commonly used system at airports, facial recognition is now finding its way into the hotels. It helps accelerate the check-in process and is particularly liked by frequent and business travellers. However, this system has its limitations with regard to the data regulations. If you plan to integrate live facial recognition technology in your hotel, you firstly need to pay attention to data protection laws in your region.
Thanks to increased social networking among consumers and the influence of social sites, it has become a business imperative for hotels to embrace social media. In order to get in front of their consumers, hotels need to continue publishing relevant content and distinguishing themselves from their competitors. Not only this, but they also need to have dedicated teams to monitor social comments on a daily basis and ensure prompt response to customer issues and feedback.
In addition to the above initiatives, the coming year will see hospitality brands coming out and defining their online personality for improved brand engagement.
Hotels need memorable branded content to tell a story with efficiency and impact. One of the examples of such content is sharing the experiences of people staying at the hotel with a focus on décor, culinary offerings, and amenities. Another easy-to-implement example is the introduction of multiple Instagrammable scenes around the property or social spaces to encourage photos, with a related hashtag.
Consumer interest is shifting, and today's traveller wants experiences over commodities and amenities. In fact, 67% of high-income travellers would rather spend their money on activities than a nicer hotel room, as pointed out by Skift.
We've seen the rise of niche properties over the past few years. In their quest to attract travellers by offering unique guest experiences, hotels have turned themselves into niche facilities. They now offer special services like relaxing getaways, well-being retreats, adventurous holidays, etc.
2020 will particularly see the rise of engaged customer base who craves unique local experiences. To be successful in this industry, hotels will have to design exciting local as well as personalised experiences for their guests. BCG reports, "By 2024, personal and experiential luxury alone is estimated to be a €1,260 billion market—a significant increase from €845 billion in 2015."
Cvent suggests creating niche itineraries instead of listing attractions by building custom itineraries based on visitor's interests or by neighbourhood. Along with sightseeing, food will also play a major role in showcasing the culture and heritage of the area.
To provide local experiences, hotels will ditch their generic menus to offer more authentic and interesting local dishes instead. Also, traditional recipes will be made using local and fresh produce and wholesome ingredients. Other ways to pay homage to local cuisine is to hold food events or culinary tours and offer cooking classes or demonstrations. You can also bring more authenticity in common areas and hotel rooms through regional elements, artworks, and materials.
Sustainability will be a key factor in successful brand management of hotels, as it's one of the most important global issues facing the world right now. And, hotels will advance their sustainability mission to fuel their corporate social responsibility efforts and establish trust.
Cognizant concludes, "Guests are increasingly eager to do their part for sustainability, embracing campaigns to reuse bathroom towels and request less frequent bed linen changes." Hotels also get rewarded through tax-reduction policies and energy-saving schemes.
Green campaigns that hotels will consider are global carbon emission compliance, waste reduction, reducing plastic usage, and saving water. As pointed out above, smart buildings that will digitise hotel facilities will also result in lower energy costs.
In 2020, businesses will be spending more time, money, and effort on building brand recall and loyalty to boost direct bookings. trivago and Phocuswright's Independent Lodging Market study revealed how important it is for hoteliers to sell directly.
You should first and foremost focus on building a well-designed website and a high-quality booking engine. An optimised website with a responsive design will give a frictionless experience to your visitors. By incorporating an efficient booking engine will help you convert your online visitors into your hotel guests and win direct bookings.
Additionally, you need to promote your property to make the travellers notice you and book directly with you. Email-marketing and social media campaigns will help you strengthen your hotel's online reputation, build strong relationships with loyal guests, and create crucial SEO content. Also, offering rewards and discounts to loyal as well as new customers will attract them to your website.
Another key trend for 2020 is metasearch marketing. trivago and Phocuswright's study mentions that metasearch is expected to continue to grow, as independent properties reinforce efforts to further grow direct bookings. Getting your hotel listed on a metasearch engine will enhance your visibility and reach in the online market.
trivago is a leading global hotel search platform focused on reshaping the way travelers search for and compare hotels and alternative accommodations. Incorporated in 2005 in Düsseldorf, Germany, the platform allows travelers to make informed decisions by personalizing their hotel search and providing them access to a deep supply of hotel information and prices. trivago enables its advertisers to grow their businesses by providing access to a broad audience of travelers via its websites and apps. As of December 31, 2017, trivago has established 55 localized platforms connected to over 1.8 million hotels and alternative accommodations, in over 190 countries.