I recently booked an air ticket for a domestic journey.
The website also prompted me to book a hotel, and a car, and avail a reasonable discount for it.
But, that’s not it. The website also prompted me the best available hotel s near my site, so that I don’t spend time commuting from the hotel to the office!
I didn’t book the hotel and car, though, as the inviters had already done it.
Nevertheless, I liked what I saw, and recalled the days when I used to do a lot of running for my travel arrangements.
I had to call up the agent, contact the hotel, connect with the car Rental Company, etc.!
It is this convenience that encouraged to pen down my thoughts on the role of IT in the hospitality industry.
In this blog, I will be discussing the current, as the futuristic role of IT in the hospitality industry.
Existing Technology in the Hospitality Industry
We will take a look at both, the frontend as well as the backend role of technology in the hospitality industry.
Let us begin with Frontend.
- Real-Time Availability and Online Bookings
Irrespective of whether you need to book a hotel, or an air ticket, or schedule a car, you only have to visit the website of the respective company.
Visiting the website gives me real-time access to the room, seat, and car inventory.
You don’t have to reconfirm the authenticity of the information that you see with the company’s contact centre.
You can straight away choose my options, and book the service!
Furthermore, you can pay online.
Unlike the olden days, when you were required to visit the agent and pay him in cash, or through a check, I can now pay for the service through your credit or debit card (and earn cash back), but that’s a different story, though!).
- High-Definition and Multi-Featured Websites
High definition and multimedia websites have genuinely changed the face of the hospitality industry.
How? Say, for instance you visit a hotel’s website to book me a room.
Earlier, when you used to book hotel rooms, you didn’t have any option but to book the hotel you always used to.
And, if that was full, you had to take the risk of booking another one, without knowing how well maintained it is, and how good the rooms are.
But, not anymore!
Interactive websites have revolutionized things. A lot of hotel chains have developed websites that will take you through a virtual tour of the room you intend to book.
So, you know what you are going to buy before you practically go there.
Some hotel chains have gone the extra mile to create local websites.
For instance, if I’ve got to stay at a hotel in New York, what do I do taking the virtual tour on the global website of the hotel chain?
Won’t a local website of the New York property prove more helpful to me?
The bigger hotel chains have already done it.
If you wish to stay in Tokyo, you can have a virtual tour of the Tokyo property and decide. Simple!
- Online Assistance
Why should you call up the contact centre every time and listen to the IVR for those teeny tiny confirmations?
Online assistance systems, or in technical terms, Chatbots help you with every assistance you require.
As a user, you maybe unsure whether it’s a robot assisting you at the backend, or you are talking to a human being, but irrespective who it is at the answering end, you get your answers.
- The Age of Consolidators
Consolidator in the hospitality industry is another concept that gained momentum during the latter years of the last decade.
These people have grown leaps and bounds all along, and continue to grow.
Why have these people grown, anyways?
Don’t we have the company websites catering to our online booking requirements?
What is it that contributed to their popularity?
The answer is the range of options, and technology continues to play a critical role.
It allows them to consolidate information from various companies and display them on their website.
Furthermore, consolidators too, have made their websites interactive and intriguing with an intention to seek repeated users and create brand loyalty.
Tracking your location, and then giving you all the available nearby options, applying all your filters are a few elements that will intrigue you to book with these consolidators.
- Real-Time Reviews
Technology has simplified another concern, and that’s the real-time review of fellow users.
You don’t have to book something in oblivion now.
You can always refer to real-time reviews posted by other users who’ve been there and used it.
This will help you take quick and informed decisions.
Let me now walk you through the backend convenience technology has fostered in the hospitality industry.
- Inventory Management
Inventory management is a significant concern for the hospitality industry, as an inaccurate, or an incorrect inventory display at the frontend can result in havoc!
Technology ushers accuracy, real-time information to help the concerned manage the inventory accurately.
So, the frontend staff doesn’t have to remember the number of rooms available in the hotel or the number of seats available on a particular flight.
The system displays inventory availability for as long as a year from the current date.
This also helps companies accept advance bookings.
- Quicker Bookings
Earlier bookings used to take time, customers, and the one making the booking had to wait for hours, confirming the booking.
But, that’s not the case now.
Technology has expedited the booking process. It facilitates a quick booking review, payment verification process, and then an instant confirmation.
This has helped relieve a lot of efforts and time otherwise spent in getting those bookings confirmed, and payments verified.
- Database Management – Customer Information and Preferences
How annoying is it when your agent will keep asking you about your meal, seat, and hotel room preferences time and again?
When you’ve booked like say a 100 tickets, or booked your hotel with the agent for over 50 times, there’s nothing wrong in expecting that your agent remembers your preferences.
However, remembering customer information may invite errors and inaccuracies.
So, problems again!
Technology resolved this, however. Travel agents, hotels, car rental companies, airlines companies, etc. today use systems wherein the customers’ preferences, and information is stored.
This information pops up or can be used while making a booking.
So, no more annoying calls asking, sir, what meal do you prefer on the flight? Or any specific room that you prefer!
- Accurate Reports and Informed Decision Making
Technology helps hospitality players to generate accurate reports, with a lot of detailed analytical information.
These reports help hospitality companies understand and analyze the business volume and make informed decisions.
This fosters business growth, as the company now knows where to focus, and what’s already sorted!
The Futuristic Role of Technology – 4 Futuristic Technology Trends in the Hospitality Industry
This above was just so far. There’s a lot of action about to happen in this space. Let’s check it out.
- Recognition Technology
This is one of the most important emerging trends.
You’ve known the recognition technology through mobile phones, wherein the phone recognizes your face and unlocks. That’s revolutionary, isn’t it?
Similarly, in the hospitality industry too, recognition technology is slated to create a revolution.
Technology can help you unlock your hotel rooms just by recognizing your fingerprints or your face!
This technology may also help you check-in and check-out, or make quick purchases, with touch-based payment authentications.
- Chatbots and AI
Well, Chatbots is something that I already spoke in this blog.
But, AI is something that will genuinely simplify, and accelerate operations, and help a lot of in the data analytics area.
This will help hospitality players offer everything that their customers have been looking for, and also make better projections, and informed business decisions.
Robotics has penetrated the manufacturing industry, and many others.
So, why not hospitality!
Hospitality companies have started to feel the need for robotics.
Hilton, for instance, has already started using a robot named Connie that takes care of concierge services.
Connie uses speech recognition techniques, and AI to respond to customer queries, and keeps learning through human interactions.
Robotics isn’t limited to hotels, though. A lot of airports across the globe have started to use robots for a better passenger experience, and quicker services.
But, that’s just the beginning. Robotics is evolving. There’s a lot of excitement projected in the future.
- Augmented Reality
Augmented reality is cruising across various business domains.
It is more accessible than the concept of virtual reality (VR).
Augmented reality is about enhancing the real-world environment with the help of information overlays.
For instance, if a hotel offers an AR-compatible wall map, it will help its customers point their phone on the map. Pointing their phone on the map will help them find out information about the nearby and various other locations.
A lot has already reached us, and a lot is yet to come. Technology is transforming hospitality and will continue to do so in the years to come.
We must keep up with these trends, and enjoy the convenience technology will offer in the years to come.