Technology is an ever-shifting landscape that has the ability to help or hinder hospitality, depending on how it is applied to the guest experience. Taylor Short, hotel booking analyst for the online technology reviews firm Software Advice, explains where technology is at as the end of 2016 nears, and what lies ahead in 2017.
Many millennial travelers expect a unique, locally-driven hotel experience. How are hoteliers working to push technology forward while maintaining a personal element?
Hospitality is one of the few industries where too much technology can actually be a detriment. For example, we found many travelers would not be comfortable with facial recognition in hotels, even if it increases personalization. That’s why hotels, especially smaller ones, should focus on the unique features of their facilities and location and culture and only implement new technology when they see that it can deliver ROI without disrupting the guest experience.
What was the biggest breakout hotel technology of 2016?
Large hospitality companies are testing out new technologies, such as virtual reality and smartwatch capabilities, but the viability and value of these just aren’t there yet. It may not be as exciting, but mobility is becoming the go-to investment for smaller hotels. Using mobile devices to check in guests in the lobby, using them to coordinate housekeeping and offering guest-facing hotel apps deliver convenience and a connected experience consumers are already accustomed to.
What common aspects of the hotel experience are incorporating technology?
The basic daily tasks like check-ins, ordering room service and cleaning are being streamlined with technology. In addition, hotels can use booking and reservation software to gather preferences of guests before they arrive to increase personalization and delight visitors with unexpected service.
Looking to 2017, how will the hotel technology be shifting? Will any trends die out?
I think trends like smartwatch door keys and VR won’t pick up until the technologies become more mainstream. I also think many hospitality companies will be focusing on delivering in-room entertainment akin to what guests are used to at home. In the past, hotels would advertise color TV as an amenity, but today, most people use Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube. Travelers want to bring this type of entertainment wherever they go; hotels know this and need to develop a way to offer guests their own entertainment while staying on property without causing a security issue.