Khushru Siganporia, Director IT, The Taj Group
You don’t need a crystal ball to predict hotel technology trends of the near future. Here are some of the tech trends that I see hotel groups working on and implementing across their Hotels.
Digital Shift tempting the Guest to book direct through brand.com
Most hotels know very well that not all of their bookings received from various sources are created equal, and hence chains are exploring different strategies to drive bookings directly through their brand channels.
Some chains are investing heavily in brand.com & their Mobile strategies; others have started offering free amenities (e.g., Wi-Fi, keyless entry) to guests who book directly. Hotels employ numerous strategies to drive direct bookings, including targeted promotions and best price guarantees.
Being able to snag a single room or multiple accommodations from your smart phone has made hotel bookings that much easier. In the tech-loving culture of 2015, around 65 percent of travelers own a smart phone, and those numbers are expected to continuously increase, various studies reveal that 80 percent of all mobile travel bookings are for hotel stays& this for sure are not slowing down in the future.
“Three Screens” is Out, Universal Digital or Responsive websites is In
The idea of three screens has been valuable in expanding our ideas and ability to reach travelers across a spectrum of devices, but we are past it All methods of correspondence are available to travelers—text, email, voice—and all applications and software are available in the same format across all devices. Ultimately, it means that the guest or customer has total control over the way they plan their travel and communicate while on the road.
The way we search too will undergo a huge change. The idea that we still type “ABC hotel” or a hotel in “XYZ city” in a search engine or OTA is hard to believe. Big data & Meta searches allow travelers much bigger capabilities than this. A spectrum of ways to empower travelers to search for their experiences of what they really want (i.e., a free Internet, will all paid, beachside resort with Para sailing and fine dining) in the form of recommendation Engines are being seen as new search capabilities along with of course added subjective ability to search reviews and effectively include subjective terms such as “quiet” or “good service” or “cool location.”
Groups& Conference businesses too will Demand Online Booking & Planning Capabilities. Conference Guest &Groups deserve the same ease of planning as other travelers, if not more since they are so important.
Moreover, they are going to demand it by deferring to hotels that offer the most efficient and effective planning process. This means finding rates and discounts online and the ability to plan at least some of their details like selecting a hall, Seating arrangements & Menus.
Introducing self-service and mobility
Consumers widely use ATMs instead of tellers at banks and check-in for flights online – An automatic extension of this would be Hotels Kiosks but we had done this already 10-12 years back. Leading hotel chains are experimenting with self-service check-in initiatives, including keyless entry via mobile devices. Potential advantages from these programs include more consistent up sell opportunities, labor savings, and, perhaps most importantly, alignment of the hotel experience with guests’ increasing preference for convenience.
Hotels will use the power of Apps to create in Hotel experiences on Guests own devices enabling them to understand the location, Culture better, It will in large resorts & convention centers allow the Guests to find the various services and their locations, Rooms, restaurants etc. easily. In Hotel apps will enable guest to control the room temperature, plan their business center& activity schedules like SPAs etc more efficiently. Hotels will use Apps to promote happy hours, discounts and notify city happenings, Weather change through the service Concierge.
Hotel managers & guest service applications like Property management systems, Point of Sales & Feedback systems will adapt mobility as a platform to enable Hotel staff to interact with the guest in a much better way &efficiently.
Hotels are also appealing to tech-obsessed travelers by offering the latest and greatest amenities to make a stay more convenient for guests. A few examples include in-room touch screen controls that operate everything from the television and lighting to the curtains and showers.
And there's something that will bring travelers a sense of relief: Those fees for in-room Wi-Fi access are becoming a thing of the past in many chain hotels. Plus, several hotel brands grant complimentary Wi-Fi access to guests who join their free loyalty programs. Whilst the free bandwidth will allow basic internet capabilities the Guest who uses internet for entertainment will subscribe to paid higher bandwidth upgradation that will give them a seamless High speed audio & video experience.