There is no denying that technology developments continue at a relentless pace and are changing and shaping the hospitality industry. The right technology if used in the right way can not only help your hotel improve its operating efficiencies but can also generate higher revenues. However with so many technology changes, it can be hard to keep up and understand which of the latest tech innovations would suit your property while at the same time trying to manage your business!
Never fear though as we are going to run through four hotel technology trends that are definitely here to say and explain not only what they mean, but how they impact your hotel.
1. Cloud and SaaS: Cloud and Software as a service (SaaS) has been around for a number of years but like many technological advancements hotels have been slow to fully embrace them. The Cloud and SaaS represent low cost, and when we say low, we mean significantly lower costs when compared to legacy onsite systems. No up front investment is required, there is ‘no equipment’ i.e. there is no need for lots of hardware, servers and data rooms and all software updates are automatic – you are always logged into the latest version, meaning your software is never out of date!
Under the SaaS model hotels subscribe to a licensed Cloud provider and software applications are delivered via the Internet. It’s basically like a utility, you pay for what you need and use, while at the same time freeing yourself from all the headaches that IT can bring.
The benefits of the Cloud-based technology seem to be sinking in and Gartner has predicted that in 2016, Cloud technology will account for the bulk of new IT spend within hotels. Cloud and SaaS are very much here to stay – and really the sky’s the limit (No pun intended!).
2. Mobile PMS: Most hoteliers, irrespective of their scale of operations, know only too well that the hotel PMS is the backbone to their operations. It serves as a crucial keystone to help streamline all aspects of the hotel experience. Alas however, many hotels still have a legacy property management system in place and are neglecting to upgrade to newer technologies. Legacy systems are restrictive, they do not cater to the demands of hotel property managers who are on the move nor can they serve the new mobile traveler effectively.
However, a mobile-enabled PMS helps to simplify operations while optimizing the hotel’s resources resulting in vastly improve hotel operations in terms of efficiency and guest service. Supporting Wi-Fi enabled multi-device capability; a mobile PMS means the system can be reached anytime, anywhere. Staff can receive instant updates about tasks in real-time and update the status immediately after completion and critical business information is always at the Manager’s fingertips.
Cloud based Mobile PMSs provides hoteliers with a new degree of freedom and control. It helps to maximize efficiency and streamline day-to-day operations.
3. Self-Service Check-in: Self-service as a model and a market trend has gained momentum in many industries; we can self-checkout at retail stores and supermarkets, self-check-in at airports, bank online, shop online – Self-service has become commonplace and consumers increasingly accept and often prefer self-service.
It doesn’t really come as a surprise then when we hear that guests also want the option of self-service when it comes to their hotel stay. A Software Advice survey found that a combined 60% of respondents are “more likely” to choose a hotel that allows guests to self-check-in with a smartphone over a hotel that doesn’t provide such services.
However in an age-old industry with a strong service culture some hoteliers have has been slow to adopt with many believing that the option of self-service is far removed from the very fundamentals that hospitality is built on. However, technology is not there to replace the human element but rather enhance guest service and satisfaction. “The goal is not to eliminate front desk staff. Instead it is to add service for the guests,” said Cheri Rutledge, GM of the Tampa Airport Marriott.
At the end of the day it’s all about options. People are happier if they can make their own choices and have control over their check-in experiences, whether that’s at the front desk or using their phone!
In addition, self-service technology can play a huge role in personalising the customer experience (and we’ll touch on this next!)
4. Personalised Service: Everything is personalized these days, from your name on your coffee at Starbucks, to Google search rankings, Netflix recommendations and even your shopping coupons are based on pervious grocery shop! As a result customers expect their experience within a hotel to be the same i.e. totally personalized.
According to a Yahoo survey, 78% of consumers expressed a desire for some kind of personalization, and an Online Personal Experience study by Janrain, exposed that 74% of online consumers get frustrated when content such as offers, ads, promotions appear but yet have nothing to do with their interests. Customers and guests are no longer satisfied with “one size fits all”.
Until recently, the concept of true personalization in the hospitality industry was a pipe dream. But technology has made it possible. The advent of Cloud and SaaS (trend no.1) has made mobile PMS possible (trend no.2) and combined together make for a very effective team. This new partnership / solution allows you to easily keep track of and consolidate all your guests’ personalized preferences and provides a system for delivering real time personalised services and amenities. “The fundamentals are still the same but what is different is the medium we use to build the picture we have of our customers, the number of customers and their level of engagement and involvement with the organisation, particularly how they choose to interact with us.” Simon Towner, divisional director of retail at Omnico Group.
The use of technology to enable and deliver a personalized service can generate increased customer loyalty, higher occupancy rates, and an improved bottom line.
There is no doubt that newer technologies and software improvements are bringing about unprecedented and irreversible change – and these trends have already started to do this in the hospitality industry. Technology has become critical to attracting and retaining hotel guests, and today that means investing in a wide range of solutions; investing in the right ones will not only help improve operations and guest satisfaction but will deliver a competitive edge at all levels.
Read more about Hotel PMS Solutions in the StayNTouch blog.