Travel, trips and hotel stays have always been fascinating, irrespective of the time and effort it took. But now it is no longer a tedious task and the next hotel stay is just a smartphone away! There is no denying the fact that technology has paved its way into the life of every individual in today's world. Almost every industry has embraced technology to make the most of it. Although technological advancements have already transformed the picture of the hospitality industry, its constant use has now taken the customer experience to a completely new level.
The hotel industry has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years. And, so has the technology! With more technological innovations, the future of hospitality industry seems to be totally different; promising more customer satisfaction and less hassle to the guests. Online travel agents such as Expedia, TripAdvisor, goibibo, etc. have made it easy for modern-day travellers to find the best hotels within their budget, read reviews and compare rates online. Needless to say if hotels wish to stay ahead of their competitors, increase bookings and enhance guest experience, they must adopt new technologies and integrate same within their daily operations.
Being a customer-centric industry, guest experience and satisfaction is one of the make or break points for a hotel. With the rapid technology adoption and usage in almost every sphere of life, the needs and demands of guest or travellers are also changing. Today guests look for a more personalised experience during their stay at hotels while expecting relevant and appropriate information available to them in the best possible manner. Thanks to the advent of digital concierge services and social media; hospitality industry can directly indulge with their prospective guests and provide them with a unique experience, through their journey of arrival, stay and departure.
Let us look at some of the popular technological trends that will help the hospitality industry to enhance their guest experience:
Wi-Fi Enabled InfrastructureGone are the days when Wi-Fi service was seen as a complementary facility in hotels; today it is a must-have service that every guest expects when he/she arrives at a hotel. Customers travel with their mobiles, tablets or laptops and want seamless internet connectivity for their business or to stay connected to the outside world and loved ones via social media or other apps. Be it a leisure traveller or a business traveller, Wi-Fi is required by every guest. The hospitality industry needs to invest in faster and better working Wi-Fi infrastructure to ensure guest satisfaction.
Digital Conference Facilities
In order to meet the demands of business travellers, hospitality sector should provide access to digital and Audio Visual (AV) facilities for conferences or business meetings. However, hotels need to ensure that networks are secure and use latest encryptions to avoid interference with in premise guest mobile phones, Wifi connectivity, real-time location services (RTLS), VoIP and internet protocol television (IPTV).
Near Field Communication or commonly known as NFC technology is the advanced level high-frequency wireless communication designed to transfer data between devices within a short range. With a data transfer speed of 424 Kbit/Sec, the NFC technology enables the communication when two devices are in physical contact with each other. In the hospitality industry, this technology allows the guests to make instant and secure mobile payments by touching their smartphone to a credit card. Also, guests can use the NFC technology to do self-check-ins at the hotels.
Apart from aiding mobile payments and gain keyless access to the hotel rooms, NFC technology can also be useful to personalise guest experience at the hotel, for an instance, the hospitality industry businesses can do targeted advertising based on age and gender of the guest; if a kid walks past the digital sign in a hotel lobby, the advertisement can change to a promote a kiddie meal, a local theme park or an available kids play service at the hotel. Additionally, the hotels can also use the NFC technology to keep track of the guest preferences, like and dislikes, and loyalty points for usage of various hotel services and facilities.
Most of the travellers today desire mobile or quick of communication because each one of them carries a mobile device, laptop or a tablet before hitting the road or boarding a flight. To give a personalised experience, the hospitality industry can provide pre arrival information and offer room upgrades or selection of various services on arrival, hotels can locally track flights and train timings and accordingly inform guests about any expected delays, based on guest's profile, hotels can recommend, local events or attractions and offer to get the special deals. Today guests expect hotels to provide digital services like, on arrival kiosk based check-in or keyless entry into rooms, digital menus in rooms to order services or room service, not to mention keeping a tab on expenses and invoicing.
In addition to this, the concept of "concierge in your pocket" is also gaining a lot of popularity these days among hospitality industry as well as guests. This enables the hoteliers to include all the relevant information such as nearby entertainment options, restaurants, venues, medical facilities, etc.
Smartly Integrated Hospitality Management Systems
As discussed above, guests prefer a more personalised experience during their hotel stays and in order to achieve this, most of the hospitality industry businesses use some kind of customer relationship management system (such as hotel software). With due course of time, the systems are growing more sophisticated thus, rendering enhanced integration levels. For instance, most of the hotels feed the guests' preferences in their automated databases for giving better customer experience, right from their beverage or food choices to temperature on the thermostat of their room; the data points include all such notes. When the guest visits, this kind of personalised service can add to the overall guest's experience during their stay.
Keyless entry to the hotel room is yet another brilliant technological advancement in the hospitality sector. The smart room access systems enable guests to enter their rooms by simply clicking a button on mobile phone or entering a number on keypad to access their room. This powerful technology eliminates the process of picking up the keys or the front desk staff issuing new keys when guests misplace their room keys. An alternative to this, fingerprint activated room entry is also very popular in the hotels and tourism industries these days.
Online Reservation System
Social Media is not just limited to entertainment anymore, but it has come up as an altogether different platform for ecommerce. Hospitality professionals need to be aware of the fact that every guest/ traveller checking in a hotel, lodge or spa will definitely carry a smartphone in their pocket. So properties must ensure a good social media profile and daily updates, this will help build engagement with prospects and guests. Secondly, people nowadays tend to make online reservations via use of online platforms or ecommerce sites, hotels must provide a web booking engine on their websites and all of their social media profiles, so that guests can seamlessly book rooms and services. Hotels need to ensure this booking engine is secure and offers flexible payment modes to ensure no abuse of the system and business platform. Here you can find out a list of top economical hotel management software for your business.
Housekeeping interruptions are one of the top customer complaints and many hospitality businesses have taken this as a serious threat to the positive guest experience. Instead of hanging "Do Not Disturb" or clean my room sign on doors , which at times are likely to drop from the door knob and result in housekeeping staff knocking the door or opening doors with master keys for housekeeping services, hospitality industry can adopt a more useful and innovative approach of using RFID based monitors, which detect guest presence in room, this in return alerts housekeeping staff that guest is in present the room, and they should check back later to avoid any disturbance.
Go to the end of word
With the adoption of new technologies, the hospitality industry is expected to see a bright future not just in terms of customer satisfaction, but revenue and reputation also. Yes! The guest experience has been completely redefined beyond imaginations and expectations owing to the technological advancements in the hospitality and tourism sectors. However, it would be bizarre to imagine human element and personal interactions missing. Technology should not replace the customer service; rather, it should complement the already existing hospitality services to deliver an amazing experience to the guests.
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