The biggest disruptor in the hospitality industry is technology. Traditionally, hotels were never considered as technology centres as most of the hotel-related activities were done manually. Most technology systems used by hotels were legacy products developed in a different era that still follow closed architecture which cannot seamlessly integrate with new modern technology. However, in the last few years, there has been a rapid growth in technology in the hospitality industry that most of the industry along with training institutes and learning centres have struggled to keep up with the changing trends and best practices. There are majorly 3 main categories in Hotel technology: Sales & Marketing, Guest Experience, and Guest Relationship.
AI and automation has been the biggest driver of change with regards to sales & marketing when it comes to dynamic pricing and automated revenue management. A large percentage of hotel bookings come from smartphone and internet users. The usage of integrated pricing and distribution systems has become even more important to maximize revenues and minimize efforts. Optimum rates for hotel rooms are determined by the usage of AI and ML which is pushed to all marketing channels to increase the potential to maximize revenues and ARRs (Average Room Rates) for the hotel, and reduce operational inefficiencies and manual costs.Chatbots are also a new tool used by hotel websites to automatically provide the fastest response times to guests looking for any customizations in their stay.
With regards to guest experience and operations, there has been a fast adoption of cloud based and integrated technology in hotel ERPs. Smartphone and tablet usage in in-room guest services and basic services like check in, checkout, and usage of hotel facilities has further enhanced the usage of AI. Usage of biometric authentications and facial recognition has made the entire checkin and checkout experience fast and seamless. Voice-command and tablet-based gadgets have been used to control the In-room dining, entertainment facilities making the entire experience more automated and digital.
Technology is the need of the hour and there are multiple reasons associated with it. The easy availability of the internet and smartphones have made guests more experimental. Technology is turning out to be a big USP of the hotels as there is a need for hotels to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
The challenge faced by hotels embracing modern technology is basically the existing mindset of old hoteliers who are used to minimal technology and automation. Most existing technology in hotels is rather archaic and those products are not designed to integrate with new innovative add-on services that are required in today’s generation. The inertia around changing existing infrastructure and training existing manpower always presents a big challenge for most hotels who are keen to embrace new technology but are hesitant to do so.
However, most 5 star and branded hotels still use old legacy systems for most of their operations and marketing requirements. One of the main reasons is that these larger hotels are more complex to switch overnight to lighter cloud-based systems and also it is a much bigger challenge to train staff in an existing hotel with running operations to switch systems instantly. The smaller independent hotels that do not carry baggage are the ones that have transitioned to cloud-based PMS systems easier.
Having said all of this, things are changing really drastically and with the availability of efficient, cost-effective solutions, it is not too long before the hospitality industry goes through a technology revolution and keeps up with the rest of the industry.
Article contributed by Siddharth Goenka, Founder & CEO, Aiosell Technologies