The desire to go is as strong as ever after two years of solitude. Not whether we want to travel has changed, but how we want to travel has.
Self-service is now preferred over waiting to be serviced, with tech-enabled convenience demanded at every stage. From online planning and booking to contactless check-in and a 24-hour digital concierge, there’s something for everyone. The hospitality digital revolution is being accelerated by today’s tech-savvy, hygiene-conscious tourists’ expectations. Companies must respond fast to changing customer needs or risk missing out.
According to a Stayntouch/NYU Tisch Center of Hospitality Report, 81.7 percent of hoteliers questioned used or planned to use at least one new technology during the epidemic. To reduce human error, increase service efficiency, and improve the guest experience, technology must be integrated into daily operations.
Here are six technology developments altering what it takes to stay in business as a hospitality player in 2022, combining the best of high touch with high tech:
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Gamification of Travel Planning
With cabin fever at an all-time high, the world has never been more hungry for adventure. As individuals plan their next vacation, hospitality organizations can use gamification — the application of game design features to non-game contexts — to make trip planning a guilty pleasure.
Companies can capitalize on human motivation by combining gamification concepts such as challenges, chance, and rewards with components such as points, quests, and sharing. Consider a vacation planning website that requires users to complete a travel puzzle in order to earn a score, be placed on a leaderboard, and earn points toward their next trip.
Lufthansa, a popular European airline, has launched Lufthansa Surprise, which allows passengers to choose from nine different categories, including nature, cities, and partying. The destination is secretly revealed after booking after selecting top choices from seven to twelve European cities.
Gamification for online advertising has been proven to increase data collection, consumer loyalty, brand awareness, user-generated content, online engagement, and revenue, among other things.
Virtual Reality Tours
Travelers find it difficult to envision their next vacation rental before they arrive. How can hoteliers accurately explain their small Santorini hotel’s handcrafted charm to potential guests?
Companies may now give future guests first-person digital tours of their facility using virtual reality (VR). The Atlantis Dubai offers a virtual tour that uses visual immersion to showcase the hotel’s primary attractions.
The advantage: Virtual reality encourages future passengers to imagine about enjoying attractions before they come. According to a study published in Tourism Management, VR boosts the development of mental images and presence, resulting in a better brand experience.
The way we think about hygiene has changed dramatically in the tourism sector. With regulatory constraints and personal concerns, hospitality businesses cannot afford to fall short.
According to the Stayntouch/NYU Tisch Center of Hospitality Report, contactless technology adoption surged by 66 percent during the pandemic, including self-check-in, in-room technology, mobile keys, and digital payments. This figure is predicted to rise steadily until 2022.
Hospitality companies are trying to eliminate human interaction from their services for a variety of reasons. Many hospitality organizations switched to contactless check-in/out to lessen staff dependency in the aftermath of a pandemic-induced labor scarcity.
Following the epidemic, we can expect robot receptionists, facial scan check-in, voice guest control, robot delivery, and robot concierge assistants to soon replace human-to-human interaction services.
Chatbot as a Digital Concierge
Hoteliers are scrambling to accommodate guests’ requests around the clock. With fewer employees, chatbots are becoming a need. According to the Stayntouch/NYU Tisch Center of Hospitality Report, the percentage of hotels offering chatbots on their websites is predicted to climb to 29.2 percent by the end of 2022, up from 14.5 percent in 2019.
Consider the chatbot as a digital concierge, putting the concierge desk at your guests’ fingertips. This means being able to engage people, answer their queries, and fulfill their demands 24 hours a day, seven days a week. ChatBotlr, developed by Marriott International’s Aloft Hotels, allows guests to make requests from their smartphones, ranging from amenity deliveries to morning wake-up calls.
Knowcross, Runtriz, Zingle, Guestware, or Beekeeper are examples of guest messaging apps that can be used by hotels on their visitors’ smartphones. They could also put voice assistants in the room, such as Volara or Intelity.
IoT for Room Control and Customization
IoT (Internet of Things) enables hoteliers to keep up with the trend toward efficiency, sustainability, and customisation. IoT technology, when implemented in a hotel room or short-term rental, allows visitors to customize room settings such as temperature and lighting. They can even save electricity by turning off the lights when no one is in the room.
Hoteliers may use IoT to not only adjust the experience to the demands of their visitors, but also anticipate them. Imagine returning home after a night out to a room that is already set to 70 degrees, with a bedside lamp and an aromatherapy diffuser on. To construct these intuitive spaces, IoT can collect sophisticated data.
Today’s travel is all about personalized, localized experiences, which hoteliers can provide with location-based services. Hospitality providers can provide more intuitive local recommendations by seeing a guest’s location via their smartphone. Guests can easily obtain local information, such as the nearest grocery shop or the greatest pub in town, without the need for human help.
The location of a guest can also help with day-to-day marketing and guest satisfaction. When visitors are near the hotel spa, for example, employees can send special offers to their mobile devices or provide water to a guest’s room after a workout. Knowing where employees are also enables faster response times for guests, such as dispatching the nearest employee to a passenger request on the fifth level.
Future of Hospitality Tech Revolution
The hospitality business cannot hope to return to normal after such a historic year. The modern traveler prefers frictionless assistance, self-service, and risk-free travel. Technology will be critical for hospitality businesses to keep up.
It’s a whole new world for hospitality players, with gamified vacation planning, virtual reality tours, contactless service, chatbots, in-room IoT, and location-based services. However, it is up to us to stay in the game by enthusiastically embracing tech-enabled efficiency, customization, and flexibility.