The new year is coming and hotels are preparing budgets and strategies to start off on the right foot. The problem is: how to decide which technologies are worth a hotel’s investment?
Hotels that don’t invest in technology lag behind the competition. According to a recent report, 54 percent of hotels planned on increasing their technology budgets in 2019. In addition to committing to making these investments, it’s also important to understand how new tools fit into a hotel’s needs.
Here are the top five technologies that hoteliers should consider adopting in 2020. These tools span pre-stay, in-stay, and after-stay services, allowing hotels to efficiently address the entire guest experience.
1 AI Chatbots
Hotel chatbots powered with Artificial Intelligence (AI) can provide convenient customer service during a guest’s pre-stay experience. Chatbots are fast, easy to use, and efficient. Automated services and AI can help personalize service by collecting guest data and make the guest experience seamless by centralizing all online customer service. Chatbots can also be used during a guest’s stay—instead of standing in line, guests can easily get the answers they need to simple questions via a chatbot.
2 360-Degree Video Tours
In the battle between OTAs and hotels to attract travelers online, having an easy-to-use booking system is a basic—yet crucial—move. Travelers not only search the best prices and accommodations online, but they also book and pay through their smartphones. What can give hotels a competitive edge are 360-degree video tours—a form of video marketing that allows brands to show off a property’s physical qualities. Unlike virtual reality videos, which require a VR headset, guests can view 360-degree videos on a range of devices.
Also known as a spherical video, this kind of tool is becoming popular because it is harder to say “no” to an experience than an idea.
3 Smart Check-In
Having to wait in line to check-in can ruin a guest’s experience from the start. Smart check-in using self-service kiosks and smartphones as room keys impress guests while mitigating the workload put on hotel staff. A 2019 survey of more than 3,600 travelers commissioned by hospitality firm Criton found that self-check-in and accessing a room via digital key are primary requirements of today’s guests. Moreover, 68 percent of those surveyed found it unacceptable to wait in line at the front desk for longer than five minutes.
4 Internet of Things
The internet of things (IoT) makes it possible to centrally control in-room amenities and facilities, giving guests the convenience they are seeking when staying in hotels. IoT also supports sustainability initiatives, allowing guests and staff to better regulate energy consumption while reducing costs and emissions.
5 Online Review Management
A brand’s online reputation should never be taken for granted. In a world dominated by Tweets and posts, social media has an immense influence on the lives and decisions of travelers. Hotels should embrace social media and approach it not only as a marketing tool but also as a customer service tool. A hotel’s management team should monitor social comments on a daily basis—a task that is difficult or even impossible if done manually. Through online review management tools, hotels can better handle the volume of social comments and address guest feedback before, during, and after stays, improving loyalty.
To enchant guests, hotels should go beyond hospitality warmth and reach top-class service with ‘wow’ moments that only these technologies can bring to the table.