In my previous blog Digital hotel: Part 1. The Present I reviewed how digital development had shaped accommodation business. However now, I would like to let my imagination run wild and imagine, what new things might (will) happen in the hospitality business as the technology is galloping further ahead day-by-day.
Future hotel. Fantasy about to become a reality
After reading several articles and blog posts about digital hotels, most of the future predictions seems to be a sci-fi fantasy. However, a small part of this fantasy can already be found in some hotels. And having in mind the speed of technology growth, these things will become very much real and present.
- Virtual Reality. Although it's not a very new technology, in the tourism industry it becomes more and more popular. Such OTA giant as Expedia is preparing to allow people to take a virtual tour in the hotel before making a reservation. Many people are posting 360°photos of their holidays on social media. Photos are made from various touristic destinations as well as from hotel rooms and resorts. So basically, you already have an opportunity to review a hotel room using VR. In short, technology is already working and being used, it just needs to be more adjusted and more defined for hospitality needs. Having a 360° view possibility on the hotel's website is an amazing sales option. Guests can see not just the room's layout but the amenities and the view.
- Chat-bots. This piece of technology is also not so new. But it has an amazing potential to grow big. Chat-bots soon will be not just answering generic questions on the hotel websites but also assisting in the whole reservation process. They can even work on up-selling your services based on a certain guest's choices during the reservation process. In a very near future, these chat-bots will be able to take over the phone calls and e-mails. Meaning that hotels will have 24/7 multilingual reception. Also, costs for recruitment and training will drop as more and more tasks of an actual human being will be replaced by the robots. However, it is very important to notice, that replacing actual human beings with chat-bots can influence your service quality. You should choose carefully on what you are actually replacing and which tasks should remain in the hands of a human. It might be worth to still have a human receptionist, but next to it to have an instant translation headset which would instantly translate receptionist's text to the guest's native language. In this way, you still don't lose the human interaction but handling the work with the help of the technology.
Robots can be useful not only at the reception or on the website, but they can assist at the room cleaning, food serving and many other places of the hotel.
- Biometric solutions. People are getting used to the fingerprint or face scanning technologies to unlock their gadgets. But these solutions have a great future in the hospitality industry. This will definitely transform the check-in procedure as well as the service purchasing. Guests will not need to carry keys and will be able to access rooms and other amenities just by scanning a finger. Of course, biometric solutions at the moment still raise a lot of security related questions. People at the moment might not be willing to dispose of such sensitive data. However, this will change in the future.
We can imagine, that even hotel rooms will become smart. With the help of certain sensors, several hotel operations could become more fluent. For example, housekeeping can get a ping once guest left the room so they can start the room cleaning. Also, sensors can alert guests about unlocked doors, left open windows, smoke, and many other factors.
- Virtual assistants and digital concierges. There are already hotels that provide digital concierge services. However, I guess it's possible to say that this feature is still in the very early stages. Just imagine virtual assistant "learning" guest's behaviour or knowing a guest's preferences.
Augmented reality such as Pokémon GO also inspired hotels. They are willing to introduce similar "hunting" at the establishment, just replace Pokémon creatures with various activities and bits of advice. Oh and just imagine, how kids can be entertained with such technology! It would be perfect gamification for the family hotels to make the little ones happy and interested in the surroundings of the hotel.
Digital hotel future is near
It's not a surprise that the whole hospitality industry is becoming very intertwined with technology. People are getting more and more addicted to their gadgets, meaning that digital solutions are becoming very much desired. Guest expectations are moving much further from just a room booking. They are looking for so-called straight-to-your-room experience. The whole stay at the hotel procedure has to be integrated and most preferably handled via mobile phone or tablet, starting with the reservation, check-in, service purchase, payment, and check-out.
People are willing to pay more money for the experience so it becomes a very important sales point. Hotels have to give this experience to their guests. What now might seem like talk about surreal very far future such as robots and eye-scanning door locks, soon will be a very much desired and expected technology at the hotels. People will see it as normal and very sophisticated part of their overall holiday experience.
Are you ready for the future?