Emergence of New Technologies to disrupt and remake Hospitality Industry
The world is changing faster than ever before with technology continuously transforming daily lives and experiences. Internet-of-Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine learning, Automation are no longer terms just encountered in science fiction. In this day and age, these new age technologies are being leveraged by brands across industries to revolutionize various aspects of a consumer’s daily life – healthcare, privacy, home security, communication and more.
It is safe to say that innovative technology has led to disruption in customer experience in every industry in the 21st century and the service industry is surely not an exception to this rule. Especially in the hospitality vertical, innovations like Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Point-of-sale (POS) tools, and hotel inventory management software to name a few, have come a long way in enabling a seamless and delightful consumer experience at various touchpoints. Gone are the days where sales teams would keep physical journals to track guest activity and personalize the guest experience through handwritten thank-you notes. Cash deposit boxes and cash registers are being slowly replaced with barcodes, mobile payments and now cloud-based technology – completely removing the need to have a physical payment system at the reception counter and increasing security, efficiency as well as transparency.
Mobile apps are being used by a wide range of businesses and the world of apps is now open for various functionalities. With Hand-in-hand functionality comes reliability as many companies already have mobile-optimized sites and apps for seamless navigation. The impact is clear, where OYO Hotels in Malaysia has witnessed app bookings which are 21x greater than web bookings, showcasing growing preference of Malaysians to use an app to make a booking. This flexibility has also contributed significantly towards a 613% increase in overall bookings for OYO Malaysia, compared to last year.
Ensuring great customer experience calls for managing 360-degree touchpoints and tons of data. Brands are required to become more tech-savvy and invest smartly to monetize this information as well as data that is generated daily as part of running the business. With new age technologies, data is no longer a problem. The solution lies in how the organizations leverage their systems to make sense of the big data and actually generate intelligible insights from it. Big data solutions enable businesses to make data-driven decisions – for example, running campaigns for target demographics with razor-sharp precision, smartly managing room inventories and pricing intelligently to be aligned with market conditions.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the next innovation poised to make an impact on hospitality. The world over, many businesses are either developing in-house or trying to adapt AI solutions and by 2022, Gartner predicts that one in five workers engaged in mostly non-routine functions will rely on AI to do most of the day-to-day, manual tasks associated with their roles.
Voice and natural language processing (NLP) technologies have also recently grown leaps and bounds to actually interpret the questions posed to them and deliver smart, contextual answers. Machine learning has allowed voice platforms like Siri and Alexa to get smarter and the potential is immense. Soon, guests everywhere will be able to control the room temperature, contact the housekeeping staff, see the room service menu either from their smartphones or by speaking to a virtual assistant – promising us an experience like never before!
Augmented reality (AR), which is not yet a prominent focus, will gain adoption in the coming years in the hospitality industry. AR-powered signage can be used to enhance the customer experience by routing them to check-in counters, or the breakfast location or even during emergencies, helping them identify the safest evacuation route.
This doesn’t mean that the hospitality industry will become completely automated though. Technology cannot replicate the experience of staying at your favorite hotel where you have a lifetime worth of connections and memories. These new technologies are aimed at supporting humans in delighting the guests while making the overall process more advanced and efficient by eliminating middle layers and unnecessary delays and losses related to manual, routine tasks. We will still require humans to focus on meaningful customer service interactions and tackling more complex issues with guests that cannot be easily automated. After all, there will be many factors involved in the impact of automation, including our desire to interact with our fellow humans. This will enable businesses to build a consumer-friendly business model, providing immense value to both the customer and the business.
While there might be certain barriers in the adoption of the above technologies due to limitations in infrastructure, security concerns or the complex interactions involved between multiple stakeholders, these are all potentially disruptive innovations and there is no limit for the value they can generate for the ecosystem. Each new technological development and scientific advancement will continue to make the world more connected and lead the evolution towards a more personalized, delightful experience for the consumer.
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