Picture this: a guest steps into a hotel lobby and instead of the reception desk, they find a cluster of tablets. With a simple QR scan, travelers are effortlessly directed to a digital guest app for check-in. Behind the scenes, a virtual concierge responds to queries, while smart technology adjusts the room temperature to their preferred setting. This is the era of digital hospitality, where hotels strive to create memorable experiences through the seamless integration of technology and personalized service.
Behind the shiny facade, however, are a number of obstacles that must be conquered to become true pioneers in this digital realm. In this article, we will delve into 5 key challenges and show how hotels can overcome them.
Why Should Hotels Embrace Digital Hospitality?
It's 2023, and hotels need to adopt new techs like mobile apps, AI and virtual reality to amp up the guest experience and boost efficiency.
Hotel operators strive to keep up with customer preferences and the latest tech trends. According to Hotel Technology, 73% of guests are more likely to return to a hotel that meets their technology needs. The COVID-19 pandemic shed light on the importance of contactless solutions, urging companies to create seamless digital experiences.
The way customers behave, think and feel is changing rapidly, and hotels need to adapt. The technology scene offers a variety of options, including guest apps, virtual concierges, messaging and chatbots, digital check-in and keyless entry. But there's a gap that needs to be addressed: hotels must keep up with the online booking behavior of tech-savvy post-millennial travelers.
Marriott International and Hilton Hotels & Resorts are leaders in the adoption of digital technologies. At Marriott, mobile check-in and check-out allow guests to bypass the front desk. Hilton offers a digital concierge for easy access to hotel information, services and requests via mobile devices. Marriott generated $17 billion in revenue, with 30% coming from digital channels. Hilton, which has already won the hearts of 65 million members worldwide, invested $550 million in technology infrastructure to bring these digital tools to market and further enhance customer experience.
Sadly, many hospitality businesses fail to harness the power of technology. 40% of hotels overlook personalized automation due to a lack of knowledge, while 39% struggle to use tech effectively. However, by using intelligent software, hoteliers can elevate their offerings. This way, technology is the secret to outpacing competitors and providing guests with an exceptional experience.
5 Challenges to Overcome When Adopting Hotel Tech
- Technological Infrastructure
According to recent statistics, the global hospitality technology market is expected to reach $58.3 billion by 2028, with cloud computing being the fastest-growing segment. A study by Oracle found that 73% of guests prefer hotels that have the latest self-service tech. This means that if you don't integrate such software into your hotel’s operations, travelers are likely to prefer your competitors over you.
To embrace new technologies, hotels need a solid foundation of network systems, hardware and software that integrate seamlessly and support digital advances. They must ensure their infrastructure can handle increased data flow, connectivity requirements and security protocols.
Before jumping on the bandwagon, companies need to evaluate their current systems to identify gaps and opportunities for improvement. Building an agile and scalable infrastructure requires careful planning and investment. Failure to do so can lead to inefficiencies and limitations that hold hotels back from taking full advantage of digital hospitality.
- Staff Training and Adoption
To overcome this challenge, upskilling your staff is essential. Identify knowledge gaps and provide regular training to strengthen their skills. It's also important to empower your staff to make decisions. Continuous education builds their confidence and enables them to take responsibility, as well as solve problems effectively.
Take, for instance, the remarkable strides made by Hilton Hotels, which uses cutting-edge training methods with technology-based media. This approach hasn't only elevated their employees' skill sets but also paved the way for exceptional customer satisfaction.
As the saying goes, “A happy customer is a loyal customer,” and that loyalty can lead to a significant increase in annual revenue, ultimately exceeding the initial investment.
- The Balance Between Offline & Online Service
In the hospitality industry, there is a paradox between digital convenience and in-person experience. In upscale restaurants, for example, the interaction between customers and staff is very critical. Therefore, the introduction of digital changes, such as voice assistants, can limit this interaction.
This is the reason why it's important to strike a balance between digital convenience and personal experience. As a hotelier, you need to make sure that services, which cannot be replaced by digital tools, give customers the option to choose between digital and human service providers. This will enhance their experience, as well as ensure that interactive digital features are built in.
- Data Security and Privacy
Cyberattacks are on the rise, and the hospitality industry is one of the top targets. A report by Trustwave found that 41.5% of data breaches in 2021 were in this field. One example is the 2018 Marriott data breach, which affected over 500 million guests.
- Keeping Up with the Changes in Technology
Hotel managers must stay ahead of the curve by embracing new technological opportunities and adapting to the ever-changing needs of customers. If they don't, they could be left behind the competition at warp speed.
Did you know that 62% of guests prefer to interact with AI chatbots for quick help? 79% of travelers book hotels via mobile devices. Knowing these numbers gives you an idea of what software you can use in your business to generate more customers and therefore more income.
By using technology wisely, hospitality businesses can unlock unparalleled opportunities and gain a competitive edge in the industry. Stagnation is a recipe for being left in the dust by forward-thinking competitors.
On the road to digital hospitality, hotels face many challenges, but the key to overcoming them is to embrace innovation and put the guest experience first. By leveraging technology and adopting a customer-centric focus, hotels can unlock the full potential of digital transformation and shape a successful future. Making the guest experience seamless at all touchpoints with hotel tech will open up new revenue streams and strengthen customer loyalty.