When Tor Sørnes invented a first electronic key card (VingCard) for the hotel room in 1974, he couldn't have imagined what great success it will be in the future. It was considered a technical invention, a revolutionary approach to security in the hotel industry. And now, more than four decades after the VingCard's invention, hotels are still using it! Of course, now it is modified, modernized and adjusted to the next level. However, still carries out the same goal - secure stay at the hotel. This is just one example of how technology-forward thinking brought a great product to the whole industry. But now, when humanity has more knowledge and resources than ever before, these revolutionary inventions become more and more advanced. There are more "Tor Sørnes" of the 21st century who are presenting their ideas and changing the face of tourism concept.
What the digital age has taught the hotel industry?
With the growth of technology use in all markets, the hospitality business couldn't stay behind. Guests were expecting more and more to their convenience. Electronic door locks were not enough anymore. The need for internet booking engines, OTAs, online check-ins, online payments has grown in the last few decades. Meaning, that the tourism industry had to learn how to deal with digital information and how to make it serve for the hospitality business.
Those hotels, who are using property management systems, already can enjoy the benefits of data collection. We should be calling data the golden resource. Based on statistics and all kinds of reports, hotels can create their strategies, plan marketing, and forecast income.
Hoteliers are slowly learning about another new tech piece - chatbots. Those can replace receptionists answering such simple questions like "what are the restaurants around the hotel?", "what to see in the city?", "hot to get to the point X?" and etc. Even though AI-powered technologies are still very new and fresh in the hospitality business, in the future such digital solutions can be a great way of communication for introvert people. Imagine, if you are someone, who doesn't like to interact with people or feel uncomfortable talking in a foreign language - these chatbots can be an absolute relief.
Going fully available on mobile devices is also something, that hoteliers should keep in mind. People have all their lives now at the device which they hold in their hands. Meaning that they expect to have a possibility of full mobile reservation experience, from the booking till the check-out.
Another quickly growing possibility is IoT (Internet On Things). If a hotel already has valuable data about the guest (if they have been staying before, which room they always book, what food they always order, what activities they usually take...), they can use IoT for up-selling. Guest could get automated e-mail and ask if they are planning to stay at your hotel again this year like few years in a row. After the guest arrives, the system can suggest menu, activities, and even place the guest to their usual room.
Hoteliers have to keep an eye open, scan the surrounding for changes and new technologies. Their guests are advancing people, meaning that together with the growth of technology the demands of customers are also growing. But how far hospitality business can go in the digital world? Make sure to follow our blog and read the second part about future hotels Digital hotel: Part 2. The Future.