Every day, new and innovative technology is being developed in order to make hospitality an even more exciting, adventurous and tempting industry. In the 21st century, hoteliers have technology at their fingertips and this gives them a world of possibilities – it’s all about digitalisation. Now, it’s all about finding new ways of optimizing the guest journey and making hotels and destinations much more appealing to travellers than they were in the past.
Since we are peeking into a brand new year, let’s get some insights into the technology trends that will impact 2018 the most. After all, the key to success in any business, but especially in hospitality, is to be one step ahead at all times. Make sure that you are prepared for what’s to come and make the most out of what technology throws your way, in order to appeal even more to your guests and make things easier and faster.
From virtual reality to artificial intelligence, here is a break down of the most hyped tech trends of 2018.
Virtual reality – Necessity or luxury?
VR has a huge potential for hospitality and travel. Today’s traveller has been there and done that and especially the younger generations, being born in the technological era, are pretty jaded.
Virtual reality, though, is something that has the power to arouse the imagination and awake the wanderlust in most travellers. Although it’s not the most recently developed technology, VR is just starting to be actually implemented in businesses and hotels.
Why follow this trend, you may ask? Well, it’s important to know that the majority of consumers are highly responsive to visuals and VR provides the perfect way of experiencing destinations, hotels, rooms, and views prior to a trip and without the actual commitment. VR is set to a become an innovative and exciting new marketing strategy for hoteliers and, though not mandatory in any way, it can be a way to spice things up and go the extra mile for the guests and their journey.
Voice-activated devices – How to “Alexa”
According to Forbes, voice search is one of the top travel trends of 2018. Just like VR, voice-activated devices do pose a certain challenge, being a rather new concept on the market, but so far, so good. Consumers all over the world seem to be relying on these type of devices more and more every day, for one simple reason: they make everything easier, faster and they definitely ease operations. What Siri started doing for iPhone users a few years back has transformed into an entire industry, focused on devices such as Amazon Echo.
With this in mind, we recently combined our direct messaging feature with Amazon Echo’s “Alexa”, which helps hotels meet the needs and expectations of the modern guest. Travelers can now talk to Alexa in their own hotel room, through the Amazon Echo devices and they can easily communicate with staff, in the new and improved way: hands-free and voice-controlled. The Acme Hotel in Chicago is the first one to implement our solution and their guests can ask “Alexa” questions, revolving around ACME’s Free Morning Joe coffee service, setting alarms, as well as information about the weather and traffic.
Artificial intelligence – Replacing traditional customer support?
Another key trend that will mark the year of 2018 is artificial intelligence. Operations that, up until recently, required human interaction and the time-consuming ability to learn, can now be replaced by an automated form of intelligence. There’s no doubt that computers are the future in this regard since they can be store a large variety of data and even mimic human behaviour, as in the role of chatbots. Such features are more than appealing for the hotel industry, which relies heavily on customer service and guest satisfaction.
It is still questionable if the actual human interaction will ever be completely replaced, but artificial intelligence is certainly welcomed when we’re talking about basic customer support, general questions, different time zones. AI requires an investment, no doubt about it, but in the long run, it can end up by saving hoteliers’ money. By using a cost-effective, fast and 24/h type of customer support tool, such as a chatbot, guest satisfaction is guaranteed. It’s easy to see why AI is one of the most important travel trends of the moment and why it will continue to be so.
Internet of Things – Seamlessly connecting devices
It has been said that the internet of things technology has the potential to impact the travel industry in a great (and positive) way. Every day, sometimes even without noticing, we rely on our devices. We go on a vacation, we need our phone for a multitude of reasons. We take a business trip, we bring our tablets along. We enjoy a city-break, but not without relying on our smartphones to give us directions. And all of these devices, paired with the power of the internet, can work together to make our stay in a hotel more enjoyable than ever.
Hospitality noticed this instantly – it has been revealed that companies in the travel industry led all industries in their investment in IoT. In the year to come, it will be important for hoteliers to focus on integrating the Internet of Things in their establishments, since travellers, and especially, the younger and more tech-savvy ones, will expect this. It’s no longer unusual or unheard of to have the option of controlling the hotel room (the thermostat, the TV), by using your own devices. Efficiency is key in today’s busy world and the faster you acknowledge it, the more it will positively impact your business.
Online Reputation Management – Never growing old
One last trend, not only for the year of 2018 but one that will never go out of style, is successful online reputation management. This is one domain that technology has also impacted in hospitality in time and especially nowadays, new and exciting ways of managing a hotel’s reputation arise. From customizable guest surveys to targeted review marketing and direct messaging, there are new platforms that help to ensure a seamless guest experience and an excellent reputation.
About Katharina Sickora
Katharina Sickora is the Senior Marketing Manager at TrustYou. TrustYou has a guest feedback platform that collects and analyzes feedback from over 3 million guest reviews, surveys, and social posts to improve and market hotels to the world.