There’s no disputing the fact that 2019 was an eventful year for the hospitality industry. All over the world, tech advancements are rapidly changing the way the hospitality industry serves hundreds of millions of people every day.
But which are the major trends that are moulding and shaping the future of the industry right now? More specifically, which are the standout tech trends of 2019 that are likely to play an even bigger role in the hospitality industry this year?
Even in the face of economic and political uncertainly, the hospitality industry continues to go from strength to strength. The hospitality industry in Europe alone employs more than 11.9 million people, with the period between 2005 and 2018 having seen a 40% increase in the number of overnight tourist accommodation bookings across the continent. By a significant margin, the global tourism sector is one of the most prosperous and fast-growing.
Of the dozens of key tech trends 2019 brought about in the hospitality industry, none were more significant than the following three:
Total mobile connectivity
First of all, customers worldwide are responding positively to the industry’s adoption of increasingly sophisticated mobile-friendly technology. The simple fact of the matter being that the consumer public worldwide is now glued to connected mobile devices on a 24/7 basis. Hence, we’re also carrying everything we need for an enjoyable and convenient guest experience when using hotels.
From simplified check-ins to smart lighting control to the latest Chromecast Hotel product from Nonius, mobile technology is taking enjoyment, entertainment and convenience to an entirely new level. All of which is resonating well with audiences worldwide – 81% of customers agreeing that more digital services from hotel brands would be a good thing.
Meanwhile, 60% of customers prefer smartphone-enabled hotels, while almost 70% of millennials now book hotel rooms primarily or exclusively via mobile devices. Mobile connectivity isn’t just about making things easier for guests, but also simplifying any number of key processes for hotel workers. The greater the number of generic admin tasks that can be automated (check ins, reservations, general queries etc.), the more time can be invested in enhancing the guest experience.
Mobile connectivity is therefore less a trend, more the future of the entire hospitality industry as a whole.
AI effectively goes hand-in-hand with mobile connectivity, with the two having become reliant on one another. A survey carried out last year found that almost 90% of hoteliers believe that AI both improves customer support quality and reduces operating costs for the business. Again, it’s a case of taking steps to automate as many processes as possible, without compromising quality.
Chat bots in particular are beginning to make their mark on the hospitality industry. Or at least, semi-automated customer service solutions that enable guests to find the information they need, without contacting a member of staff. Many in-house hotel apps use AI to answer frequently asked questions, provide guests with suggestions of services/products they may be interested in and so on. It’s a trend that combines marketing, customer support and the simplification of everyday admin processes in one.
AI has its limitations, as the human aspect of the guest experience remains uniquely valuable for many guests. It’s just that we’re reaching a point where if you’d prefer not to come into direct contact with a single staff member during your stay, you don’t have to.
Last up, and referring back to the widespread rollout of Chromecast Hotel, hospitality businesses are responding to the growing demand among consumers for limitless in-room entertainment. The days of offering just a few standard TV channels alongside optional paid content are gone. Today, it’s all about providing every guest with limitless access to everything they have at home…if not more.
From premium channels to international programming to Netflix and so on, entertainment is playing a big role in the spending decisions of hotel guests. Going forwards, customers expect to be able to stream the content they carry in their pockets directly to the TVs in their rooms, rather than limiting themselves to the hotel’s content. And of course, they’ll expect to do so 100% free of charge.
Endless in-room entertainment is no longer viewed as an optional extra, or for premium accommodation only. It’s becoming cheaper and easier for hotels to provide it than ever before, therefore is understandably expected by today’s discerning guest.
Technology continues to show remarkable influence on the hospitality sector worldwide. Both in terms of the guest experience and the simplification of important everyday processes for hotel workers, hospitality technology looks set to continue moulding and shaping the future of the entire industry.