The new year and new decade will likely bring even greater advancements in hotel technology across both guest-facing and back-of-the-house applications. Whatever technologies hoteliers are considering adopting at their properties in the year ahead, Jorge Agnese, vice president of consulting, travel and hospitality, at OZ, advises hoteliers to “put the guest at the center of the question.” He also recommends that hoteliers team up with their technology and service vendors to ideate and design guest-centric solutions. Looking at the year ahead, Agnese shares with LODGING four hotel technology predictions.
More Virtual Reality Activity
In 2019, hotels increasingly offered virtual reality tours to better market their properties and experiences to guests. In 2020, Agnese says that the industry will see more virtual reality applications across the board, particularly to upsell and cross-sell services through partnerships—for instance, between fitness centers and resorts. As the technology becomes more affordable and universal, Agnese also expects to see VR more frequently in hotel entertainment. “A lot of hotels will be using the cheaper versions of the VR goggles to provide gaming opportunities for families,” he says.
Tapping Into IoT Data
The Internet of Things (IoT) is already fairly ubiquitous across the industry, but Agnese says that in 2020, hoteliers will increasingly tap into data made available via IoT technology to learn more about guest behavior and gain insights into hotel operations. “The internet of things is generating data at an amazing amount per second, and most of that data is not being used right now,” Agnese says. “Companies that look at the data, make sense of it, and create new paradigms based on it are going to lead for sure.”
Facial Recognition at Check-In
In 2020, Agnese expects more hotels to add facial recognition to speed up their check-in process and give guests a more convenient option. “When you know somebody is coming to your hotel, you know their name, address, and credit card number. Knowing their facial features is one more thing,” Agnese explains. With facial recognition technology, guests returning to a property or brand can skip the line at check-in and opt to have a camera identify them instead of showing ID to front-desk staff. “Like any new technology, it’s a little disconcerting to people at first, but then they get used to it and it’s par for the course.”
Getting Creative With Service Robots
Robots that make guestroom deliveries have largely functioned as novelties in the hotel industry, attracting more guest selfies than widespread owner investment. In 2020, Agnese expects hoteliers to work with vendors to find new and creative ways to incorporate robots into their operations and guest experience. “I see the bots being both revenue generation machines—not directly, but indirectly by providing the fun, novelty aspect—and also optimizing or reducing costs. In the end, if a robot delivers your food or a towel, it doesn’t matter if it is a person or a robot—you just want the food or a towel.”