Technology has permeated all aspects of life, travel included. As AI chatbots become more commonplace and virtual assistants pick up the slack, travelers are more accustomed to scenes that would have once been reserved for sci-fi movies. Technology is leveraged at every step of the travel and hotel booking process – from acquiring bookings, delivering guest experience, enhancing hotel operations and carrying out various post-stay activities.
In a 2021 survey, hoteliers were asked why hotel tech is important, with 24% of respondents saying that improving the guest experience is the prime reason. While 18% said that they want hotel technology to help grow their profits. During the pandemic, mobile check-in services became more commonplace, helping to reduce potentially risky contact between guests and employees, curbing the spread of illness and giving guests greater peace of mind. Well before 2020, however, hotel technology was changing the way customers interact with hotels and will now continue to play an increasing role in the hotels of the future.
So, what can we expect from the future of hotel technology?
- Remote check in
Already on the rise, apps and mobile will dominate the guest booking experience over the next 10 years. A study by Skift by found that 53.6% of travelers would like to see mobile check-ins and check-outs permanently adopted by 2025 across hotel industry. By enabling guests to check in remotely through their mobile device, hotel owners can better predict and manage their staffing needs, while in turn saving considerably on labor costs. This hotel technology will also be able to alert hotel staff when guests arrive, offer appropriate upgrades and upsells, and provide a more personalized guest experience, even on a first visit.
At the end of the guest stay, travelers can enjoy a seamless self-check-out experience that also allows them to arrange for their preferred transportation to their next destination – whether it be taxi, airport shuttle or a ride-sharing service.
- Smart hotel rooms
Smart hotel rooms allow guests to easily personalize their rooms to fit their needs – no room key required. Facial recognition or a phone app is all that is needed for entry. Technology in hotel rooms is also evolving to enable guests to adjust the room temperature and lighting and stream their favorite shows.
Each guest visit provides the hotel with an opportunity to capture data to personalize and even predict future stay preferences and behaviors, to guide the hotel to wow guests with the best customer service. Not only can guest data be used to help better accommodate guest needs, but in conjunction with occupancy sensors, it can also be used to automate guest interactions throughout their stay, reducing both friction points and labor costs. In this way, smart technology will continue to make it possible for hotels to predict and personalize several guest services based on previous visits and aggregated guest data.
According to Booking.com’s Sustainable Travel Report 2022, 81% of global travelers said that traveling sustainably is important to them, with half citing climate change as a major influence on purchase choices. It is then vital for hotels to implement more environmentally conscious processes into their services and operations and make these visible to their customers.
There is much innovation taking place around renewable energy such as harnessing solar energy on available roof space. Lighting accounts for about 25-40% of a hotel’s energy costs, and simply switching to LED lighting can save energy and money. In fact, LED lighting saves at least 75% of energy, and light bulbs can last 25 times longer than traditional incandescent.
- Robots and artificial Intelligence
Robotic technology is becoming more commonplace in hospitality roles. Robots are increasingly being used for behind-the-scenes cleaning and sanitisation roles, helping to increase the frequency and efficiency of critical hygiene protocols while reducing the risks of human-to-human contact and the burden on cleaning staff. Robots have a wide range of uses, especially for contactless services. They can be used to greet and provide guests with key information upon arrival. Robots can contribute to contactless service that helps guests feel at ease, and fill gaps in an hotel industry that is experiencing ongoing staffing shortages. A pioneer in robotic customer experience is the famous Henna na Hotel located in Japan, with a recent second outpost in New York City. Described as quirky and futuristic, the entire experience from check-in to check-out is controlled by the customer through a variety of automated services and voice and touch recognition points.
Artificial intelligence has been changing operations in many industries, and the hotel industry is no exception. Chatbots are becoming the norm and can streamline operations by taking over repetitive tasks like responding frequently asked questions. Hotel industry software can leverage artificial intelligence to provide rate recommendations, predict demand, deploy special offers on hotel websites, schedule staff and perform concierge duties. According to McKinsey & Company, artificial intelligence has the possibility to create around $400 billion value across the travel industry or to impact up to the equivalent of 7.2% to 11.6% of the industry revenue.
- Payment and commissions
Technology has also revolutionized the payment processes surrounding hotel booking and stays. Vendors like Stripe and Braintree help enable transaction processing natively on vendor sites. Onyx’s CommPay streamlines commission payment efficiency for hotels around the globe, enabling quick and easy touchless payment to agency and channel partners. Mobile wallets, contactless payments, and ease of transaction processing across borders and currencies has revolutionized how people book, travel, and get paid for their part in booking transactions.
- Harnessing the power of technology
While technology has been evolving and shaping the way the hotel industry conducts business for the last 20+ years, the disruption of the last few years has increased the pace of change and the application of new systems, processes and tools. Hotels can and should focus on technology as an integral part of their strategy, as it continues to fundamentally impact guest behavior, communication, booking and the revenue process.
Find out how Onyx’s commission processing solution CommPay can help streamline commission payment efficiency for hotels worldwide, enabling quick and quick and easy touchless payment to agency and channel partners by contacting us today.