The tech takeover – the top trends influencing hotels in 2017 and beyond

21st September 2017 by Belinda Hallworth

Hospitality is ever changing and adapting to meet the new demands of customers, and the hotel industry is one sector driving change through the adoption of new technologies.

The introduction of innovative technology provides hotel brands with new key product differentiators and new stories to tell. In an extremely crowded marketplace, with disrupters such as Airbnb taking a bigger slice of the pie year-on-year, these key points of difference and reasons to stay in one hotel over another, or even over different types of accommodation, are becoming of increasing importance. Smart hotels are having to find new ways to improve the guest experience, attract customers and secure bookings.

If you search “hotel tech trends” on Google, there is simply too much information to digest. Everyone connected to the hotel industry in one way or other, has compiled a list of trends all of which feature technology as a key player in the future success of hotels.

So, we’ve done the hard work for you. Below we’ve broken down the key hotel tech trends, as suggested by some of the most well-known sources, across three main areas of focus:  booking, in-destination and post-stay.

  1. Booking

Today’s consumers are seeking a more personal experience from their travel, and technology enables more seamless personalisation than ever before. Trends reports indicate that hospitality is a data rich sector, but data is not yet being used to its full potential[1]. Integrating mobile data for example can help to serve more personalised experiences into the booking and stay processes. According to McKinsey[2], digital personalisation can reduce acquisition costs by as much as 50% and implementing technology advances can scale this further by watching for ‘intent signals’ to help them find what they are looking for much quicker.

Technology will also enable brands to shorten the booking path online so that future guests find it easier to book. With shortening attention spans and the need to capture ‘in the moment’ bookers, those hotels that make it quicker to get from research to pressing the book button will encourage consumers to go direct to the hotel rather than seeking offers on aggregators elsewhere.

  1. In-Destination

Where mobile phones are becoming used more and more for travel bookings themselves – last year saw 148 million travel bookings via mobile capability[3]– their use is evolving to enhance the stay element at hotels too.

Mobiles are being used as room keys to in-room controls for air conditioning, and for remote check-in and check-out; there is no doubt the mobile phone can significantly enhance a hotel stay. Hotel apps will need to continuously develop and update to meet the growing expectations of guests. Introducing chat bots and online concierges will enable in-destination travel experiences and extend the service beyond the hotel environment itself. In-room innovation is another area where brands can shine. Wireless charging, interactive walls and the ability to create your own in-room ambiance with lighting and sound are all beginning to be introduced[4]. These experiences raise the bar, push up guest expectations and give the hotel industry something to live up to.

Of course, tech developments are not confined to the bedroom. In fact, today’s connected travellers are looking to break out of the four walls of their hotel room, whilst wanting to stay online – whether for work or relaxation. This need has driven the introduction of tech lounges where guests can benefit from some of the most advanced technology whilst remaining in the comfort of their chosen hotel[5]. As our reliance on tech connectivity increases, hotels will also need to continuously step up their game so that guests have the latest experiences.

Finally, there is no way we can talk tech without mentioning the rise of the robot. Hospitality has already seen the introduction of robots in the form of barmen (Royal Caribbean), robot concierges (Hilton), robot butlers (Starwood Hotels) and robot check-in clerks (Marriott). Whilst robots are currently only being introduced in a few of the properties these brands own, we are sure that this is just the beginning. In fact, The Henn-na Hotel in Japan is classified as an all-robot hotel – it is clear that finding ways to introduce robots will continue to be a trend as we move forwards.

  1. Post Stay

Getting consumers to choose your hotel over another is one thing, but fostering brand loyalty is even more important. In an age where we are bombarded with different options, price points and offers, customer loyalty is the holy grail of the travel industry.

So how can technology help? It looks like, once again, Big Data is coming to the rescue, and is on the front line of building customer loyalty[6]. Data can be used to build solid, authentic and long term customer relationships – meaning they need never become a stranger to that chosen brand, no matter how long between visits.

Booking travel should be simple and a hotel stay is no different. The easier it is to continue a relationship with guests the better, and technology and appropriate use of data will continue to open doors.

[1] http://www.thedrum.com/opinion/2017/06/14/come-fly-with-me-glance-the-travel-sector

[2] McKinsey, November 2016

[3] http://www.dcsplus.net/blog/5-surprising-statistics-behind-the-rise-of-mobile-bookings

[4] http://www.michelsandtaylor.com/news/2017/01/top-hospitality-trends-for-2017-from-our-hotel-consultancy-experts/

[5] http://hotelexecutive.com/business_review/3578/the-growing-trend-of-e-lounges

[6] http://www.qubit.com/research/the-future-of-travel-man-vs-machine

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