Digital Technologies Transforming the Hospitality Industry

Our travel preferences are changing these days. We have started to look out for more casual local experiences - learning about the culture and interacting with local people as part of our vacation (think AirBnB’s success). This is especially true with millennials- who crave authentic and unique experiences as 78 % of millennials prefer to learn something new when travelling. The proliferation of digital consumer hardware and software have also raised the bar. Travelers are now expecting more value and enriched experience from their travel journeys.  

The result, a number of companies in the hospitality industry are embracing new technologies to provide value add experiences to keep pace with growing expectations. In this respect, the following key trends are emerging:

1. Personalization by using predictive analytics: - Hotels have started offering room upgrade, spa treatments and other offers personalized to the traveler based on their Code Halos. For example, MGM Grand ‘wellness rooms’ and  Westin’s partnership with New Balance provides personalized services to health conscious travelers. Besides, hotels can also provide price accuracy based on predictive analytics. A great example is from the travel booking site – Kayak - that relies on predictive analytics for price forecasting. The flight price trend predictor of Kayak advise you to either wait or buy the ticket at the moment by providing the confidence metric based on algorithmic patterns. Such accuracy and user’s confidence can help hotels get more bookings on their own platforms.

2. Integrating wearable technology and sensors: - Hotels are working on integrating wearable technology and sensors for facilitating hotel transactions and operations. Starwood Hotels is integrating Apple Watch to enable mobile check-in and keyless room entry. Hilton Worldwide also launched digital check-in and room selection technology to Hilton HHonors members – the members will also be able to further customize their stays by requesting upgrades or making special requests for items to be delivered to their rooms ahead of their arrival ( source :-

Similarly, technology is being increasingly used for back end and front end operations. Built-in sensors for lights, air-conditioning control through app, TVs for answering guest queries via voice recognition, digital newspapers and magazines to offer guests access to their local papers. E.g. Accor’s entire chain of hotels worldwide have signed a deal with PressReader.  

3. Providing rich travel related multimedia content: - Digital technologies have also made possible providing rich content about destination, stays, local culture, things to do and list of attractions through a variety of social channels such as YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, blogs and independent reviews website (Tripadvisor, Yelp). Not only this, the tourism boards such as that of Singapore Tourism recently launched  to offer travelers editorial travel content along with  integrating Tripadvisor’s rating and social channels.  Providing avenues to share experiences and integrating such content on one single platform can help brands create more meaningful relationships with their current and potential customers.

4. Leveraging social media: - Hotels, now days, are encouraging guests to share their stay experience through social media channels throughout their stay.  They are also ready to reward the activity with points and discount offers. E.g. Soi Wave House Hotel - world’s first Twitter hotel in Spain has twitter themed rooms and décor, and encourages guests to hashtag their way through their stay. Guests could also connect to hotel staff and other hotel guests via a Twitter-designed online community. Similarly, Marriott Hotels introduced PlusPoints, allowing guests to earn points for their social media activity (Source :-

5. Artificial Intelligence: - Robots are entering the hospitality industry as well right from serving foods, to carrying luggage to act as hotel receptionists as well. Anybots – a start-up is trying to replace receptionists with robots; Carnegie Mellon has used a Roboceptionist to help guests find their way around campus (Source: - Multilingual Robots will check in guests, carry luggage and perform many other functions in the upcoming Henn-na Hotel in Japan, taking artificial intelligence to a whole new level in the hotel industry.


This is just the beginning. With the advent of more sensors, robotics and mobile technology in our physical and virtual world, brands have the opportunity to differentiate themselves based on how effectively they embrace new technologies and provide unique, authentic experiences to their guests. 

Three Different Future Worlds Of Work

PwC recently released a report entitled 'The Future of Work - A Journey to 2022' which takes an in-depth look at how the workplaces of the future are going to change, and how this is going to change the world in which we live as well. According to an article from Forbes, the report breaks the future of work down into three different 'worlds' - these are the Blue World, Orange World and Green World; let's take a look at the differences:

Blue World.

This is the world in which "big company capitalism" is the focus, with businesses looking to maximize their profits and revenues. The Blue World effectively represents today's world in which the majority of businesses tend to focus on monetary aspects, only a far more monolithic version. The businesses will get bigger and a select few will hold a monopoly share in the global marketplace. Businesses will be very data-driven and individual, star employees will be recognized for their work more than teams.

Orange World.

In a huge contrast to the Blue World, in the Orange World the bigger a business is, the worse it will perform. Companies from every sector will be focusing on their flexibility and ability to reduce costs as much as possible. Agile organizations will do best, alongside those able to create and manage complex networks of business - for example, companies that utilize freelancers will do better as they can easily breakdown into smaller entities and stay relevant in a constantly shifting work environment.

Green World.

The final world is, perhaps unsurprisingly, one focussed on environmental factors and becoming eco-friendly. Both businesses and employees will help to create a green working world that encourages eco-living and sustainability. A positive social and environmental impact will be a far more engaging end-goal than revenue and profit for the business owners and employees in this world.

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The Future of Work is Not Work

As the co-director of Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work and the parent of two teenage children thinking about the future of work is not only my day job but a personal preoccupation.

One phrase I keep coming back to, as I muse about what Cost Centers One and Two could and should do when their time comes to punch the clock, is the old fortune cookie homily, “if you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life”.

Variously attributed to Confucius and Marc Anthony (and quite a few others) this is, at first glance, nothing more than another mass produced missive from the Department of the Bleedin’ Obvious. Pass another Fried Spring Roll.  

But, if you stop and think about it for a moment, it really is quite a profound and important idea, particularly when you’re pondering what the future of any type of work is. Because what in essence it means is that the future of work is not work; if you love what you do you won’t feel like you’re working. We all want to love what we do ergo we all want to feel that we’re not working.

Before you start imagining I’ve got caught in some logician’s loop and am beginning to lose my ball bearings just pause to noodle on what the future of work not being work really means. As arbitrage and automation advance and begin to nip at the heels of the bourgeoisie (that’s you mate!) our salvation, we all concur, is our very humanity, and central to this, our creativity. Regular readers will be familiar with some of my recent thoughts on this narrative

If this is the case, and this recent paper from “the robots are coming” sentries Frey and Osborne at Oxford University adds heft to the argument, then loving what you do is absolutely central to your future. Doing things that you don’t love – i.e. work – is, over the course of the next 5, 10, 20, 50 years (who really knows?), set to be swallowed up by ever more powerful Turing Machines (none of which incidentally are going to look anything like Benedict Cumberbatch; in fact there’s a derivation of the Turing Test for you – could you imagine a computer ever coming up with a name like Benedict Cumberbatch?)

Put another way, one could say there’s no future in work. Only a future of doing things you love.

With me so far? Good. But here’s the catch. Those of us nutted by reality in our 20’s and 30’s know that loving what you do is not hard. Getting paid to do what you love though is really hard. Very, very, very few musicians, comedians, writers, actors, artists etc – who love what they do – make enough money to sustain a career of not working. The 99.9% (recurring) of people for whom not working doesn’t work find themselves back in the pool of the working class facing a future of work that stretches into an uncertain, hazy, far distant vanishing point.  

The trick therefore – the answer to the question Cost Center Two asked me the other day; “what job should I do when I grow up?” - is to balance work with love. To do something that has as little work in it as possible and as much love. The people who find, or engineer, this easily are the lucky (or just skillful) ones. For the rest of us finding the balance is tricky; sometimes a lifetime’s (dare I say it) work.

In all honesty people who don’t work – i.e. who make money from doing things they love – probably don’t love everything about what they do. The musician often hates talking to the record company executives; the actor hates doing the press junket; the top coder hates dealing with the end-user. At those moments even these folks who don’t work for a living are working …

So in reality, everybody works at times. The trick, again, is to “accentuate the loving, eliminate the working, and don’t mess with Mr. In-between” … Get a job, or make a job, as full of love as possible, and with as little work as possible.

To personalize this for a moment, I don’t love everything about what I do for a living. When I’m doing my expenses or my timesheet or schlepping home at 11pm at night I know I’m working. But 90% of the time being the Co-Director of the Center for the Future of Work doesn’t feel like work at all. Writing this piece didn’t feel like work. Doing a presentation this morning didn’t feel like work. Kitting out our new office in Manhattan didn’t feel like work. Because I loved doing all those things.

If you love what you do chances are you’ll be good at it and if you’re good at it chances are a robot is going to have a tough time competing.

Of course, at times, your 9-5 (or 5-9, or whatever hours you keep) will feel like work; those who can honestly say they’ve never worked a day in their life are truly the unevenly distributed. Your mission though (and you should choose to accept it) is to make sure that you’re working as little as possible.

So, when you have your next check in with your boss, just explain that you’ve hardly worked at all since the last check-in. Once he or she has got over the shock of what you’ve just said you can explain why that’s the case, and start mentally spending the pay rise, prepping for the new job title, and picking out a new house plant for your upgraded pig-pen.

Robots may replace work for us one day in the future; but they’ll never replace love … well not until a few more revs of this …