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 :- http://traveltrendstoday.in/news/2015/04/01/hilton-launches-digital-check-in-and-room-selection)
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 yoursingapore.com 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 :- https://sourceable.net/hotel-design-trends-for-millennial-guests/)
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: - http://www.otrams.com/blog/innovations/artificial-intelligence-in-hospitality-industry/). 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.