The hospitality industry contributes $3.41 trillion annually to the global economy. Or at least it was the case before the global pandemic hit the world. In 2020, the hotel occupancy rate in Europe plummeted by 82.3%. The revenue per available room in European hotels dropped from $93.71 in 2019 to a staggering $11.35 in 2020.
Long story short, hotels that took the blow of the coronavirus outbreak and survived began looking for ways to adapt to the new reality. The new reality demands exceptional hygiene standards, social distancing, and touch-free service for tourists and business travelers concerned about their health and safety. To keep pace with market shifts, hotel industry players need to implement new technology that will attract more customers and ensure safety. Let’s crunch some stats on customer demand:
As you see, customer expectations are pretty high, and hotels have no other choice than to join a digital transformation. Keep reading and you’ll find out how technology can fill the voids in the hospitality industry.
How technology changes the hospitality industry
By adopting technology in the hospitality industry, hotels reach out to a wider audience and enhance customer-business interaction on many levels. For example, now it’s easier to promote hotel services and collect user feedback with accurate behavior analytics. At the same time, hotel owners connect with their staff and control internal processes in a straightforward and efficient way. To synchronize all these tasks, hoteliers use out-of-the-box hotel management system software.
Hotel management systems come in packages that include hotel booking, front desk operations, hotel billing and invoicing, data analytics, and more. So, what is a hotel management system? In a nutshell, it’s a digital solution that keeps hotel operations flowing. Such solutions help to boost guest experiences, streamline workflows, reduce costs, and eliminate human errors. The hotel reservation system is a typical example of hotel management software.
5 technology trends in the hospitality industry
Big hotel chains understood the benefits of technologies in hospitality industry and adopted hotel management systems years ago. Unfortunately, they can’t rest on their laurels for long. The following tech advancements will shape the hotel industry in 2022 and beyond.
Guest mobile applications empower hotel visitors to make the most of their time in various ways. These apps improve the end-to-end customer journey from hotel discovery and booking through the point of their arrival to check-out and social media communication. Here are the most common features of guest mobile apps:
- Optimized booking
- Mobile check-in
- Contactless keys for room access
- Invoicing and check-out
- Ordering room service
- Placing housekeeping or maintenance requests
- Accessing special offers and information
- Adding preferences
- Creating user profile
- Accessing a loyalty program
A hotel mobile app works on both sides: for guests and hotel staff as well. Typically, it integrates with a hotel management system and addresses one-off customer requests to hotel personnel. Moreover, it accumulates a substantial amount of user data hoteliers can use to level up hotel services.
This feature is rather a component of a mobile guest app or a website than a standalone tool. It can be as simple as providing options for a hotel stay, such as baby cribs, drinks in the mini bar, extra pillows, and others. But if you want to play big, bet on big data.
Every time customers log in using their social media accounts, you get access to their personal information. You know what they like, how many children they have, what’s their dog’s name, and where they spent their last vacation. All this data allows you to personalize a hotel stay according to your guests’ preferences.
But hold on, there’s more. Your guest app and website can also gather user data and transfer it to hotel management system or analyze it in-app. Depending on your budget and preferences, you can choose an off-the-shelf solution or develop custom software. Whichever option you choose, remember: mobile application development and web development open more opportunities for functionality customization to suit your business processes and needs.
Once data collection is underway, you need to evaluate staff performance in accordance with collected insights. Sounds complicated? Trust me, it pays off: customers will appreciate your attention to detail and favor your services over hundreds of competitors.
Mobile payment technology is becoming more widespread, and for a good reason. It offers many advantages for restaurants and hotels, namely securing and speeding up the payment process. The cool thing is customers can leave their wallets behind and only carry their phones. Just link your credit card to a mobile payment app, and enjoy!
Digital wallets such as Google Pay, Apple Pay, and PayPal have two layers of protection: the device itself and data encryption. If you think about it, this is a lot safer than carrying around a physical card that could be stolen. For a consumer, it’s a double win. Besides, contactless payments take less time than chip card transactions. And since customers hate to wait, even for seconds, less time per transaction ensures higher customer satisfaction.
For a hotelier, adopting contactless payments is almost as easy as for customers. First, purchase a POS terminal that supports NFC technology. It will cost you around $49 for a simple NFC reader and $149 for an advanced one. Next step, update your payment processing plan so it will accept mobile payments. Voilà! You’re one step ahead of the competition.
One of the main challenges for hotels is providing swift and effective customer service without breaking the bank. Artificial intelligence (AI) helps to tackle this problem by giving quick and helpful replies to customer questions at any time of the day or night. Chatbots and smart assistants are widely adopted in the retail industry, but for the hospitality industry, it’s a relatively new technology.
Let me guess: you like the idea, but think it’s too expensive? Wrong! If you compare the costs spent on running 24/7 customer service versus integrating AI into your hotel management system or website, you see that AI is actually cheaper. Plus, it goes without saying that AI doesn’t ask for a salary, a place in the office, and health insurance. Besides, artificial intelligence can learn and analyze customer behavior patterns to improve customer service.
Virtual reality (VR) is known for its entertainment and learning capabilities. Nonetheless, more and more businesses are tackling the power of VR for marketing purposes. For the uninitiated, virtual reality refers to a simulated experience generated by a computer. Hoteliers can deliver useful information by inviting their audience into immersive virtual experiences.
You’ve probably seen food samples in supermarkets. Maybe you even tried one or two. It’s a good old try-before-you-buy marketing strategy that works for both retail and hospitality. For example, customers can experience a virtual walk-through of a hotel or visit their room before booking. In addition, VR tours allow to visit nearby attractions and historical places in full color, shape, and sound.
The future of digital technologies in hospitality
New technologies are emerging and evolving with lightning speed. For hotels that want to keep up with customer expectations and remain competitive, digital transformation is the key to a positive customer experience and high hotel revenue.
But before you go into that, you need to choose a reliable software development partner. Blackthorn Vision is armed with skilled engineers and experience in implementing technology in the hospitality industry. We build a web-based solution that automates routine operations and provides data-driven insights.
So, if you’re ready to adopt new technology in your hotel business, drop us a message! We will tailor our software development services to meet your unique business needs.