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Six Essential Tech Trends in Hospitality for 2022

25 June 2022

Blending the best of technology with quality touches, these fantastic trends are reshaping the face of modern hospitality.

After a difficult two years, the hospitality industry is seeing a resurgence of the desire to travel, eat out, and other leisure pursuits. The main change we’ve seen as the world emerges from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, even where restrictions remain in place, are to how customers engage with hospitality providers.

Changing Expectations

Traveller’s expectations more than any other group are pushing the boundaries of hospitality every day. Therefore, it’s important for businesses in hospitality to move with the times; in some cases, you should consider anticipating their evolving needs. Those who don’t risk falling behind.

Travellers and customers are all about convenience, for example, preferring self-service checkouts over waiting for service. Everything is going online – planning and booking breaks, ordering food, and contactless pre-flight check-in right through to concierge services.

In a recent report released by Stayntouch/NYU Tisch Center of Hospitality Report, over 80% of hoteliers surveyed said they had introduced one or more new technologies since 2020 or were doing so through 2022. Such technologies are essential for both business operations, and guest satisfaction.

What are the six top technology trends emerging through this year?

Trend One: Virtual Reality Touring

The traditional photography and brochure combination was always difficult for travellers to visualise holiday rental properties (both self-catering, hotels, and non-traditional). The challenge was for hoteliers to best portray what they have to offer to potential guests.

VR turned out to be one of those answers. With it, providers can showcase their properties with first-person tours of their space before the traveller decides to book.

The main benefit is, of course, helping the traveller visualise their break and essentially “daydream.” Virtual tours are not a new thing, but virtual reality is more elaborate with a realistic feel, and an improved brand experience.

Trend Two: Contactless Payment

Contactless payment was already a growing trend before the pandemic, but COVID-19 meant the technology developed and was adopted at a much faster pace. Driven by government measure to combat the virus, and greater awareness of personal hygiene, hospitality was one of the first to take up this fast, convenient (and importantly – clean) payment tech.

According to industry data, there was a 66% increase in digital payments (and associated technologies like mobile keys, self-check-in, and room technology) between 2020 and 2022. This year is expected to see further growth.

However, this wasn’t just a hygiene issue, but also one of increased automation. Hospitality has been hardest hit by the labour shortages – reasons have been widely discussed – but these technologies relieved dependence on employees. With this tech, this critical dependence on humans reduced.

When the pandemic is over, this automation is highly likely to stay and increase. We expect facial scan and voice control, and robotic concierge staff to become the norm.

Trend Three: Gamification

The COVID-19 pandemic came with a secondary pandemic – cabin fever. Confined to home for so long to protect others, we all started playing more games on our phones. And that’s when gamification became the next big thing. Put simply, it means making games out of things that aren’t games. For example, making travel planning (something often as stressful as it is exciting) into something fun.

Gamification mechanics means including challenges, the chance to win a prize, discount, or special feature. It means rewards, the ability to gain points to claim prizes, and search quests. It can be as simple as commenting and sharing to enter “players” into a draw.

Example: setting puzzles for customers to solve and then offering points towards discount on their next booking, or even a free meal. Lufthansa, for example, have something called Lufthansa Surprise for adventurous travellers. Choose from nine destination categories such as city breaks, nature, or party town etc, you only find out where you’re going once booked.

Gamified online advertising has been proven to boost data acquisition, brand loyalty, awareness, and engagement. Naturally, this means more revenue.

Trend Four: Location Services

This is another older technology that has found new uses. Our smartphones have had location and GPS for about ten years at this point; now though, hoteliers and other hospitality providers can utilize it to create their own local experiences. Want to help a guest find the best bar, the nearest supermarket, how to get to a beauty spot? With permission, your custom service can send details to guests about useful local services without them asking at reception every day. guests can access this instantly and help plan their trip.

It can also improve your marketing and guest satisfaction. Make them aware of special offers when near the hotel spa or allow them to order room service. It can also help track employee movements – to request the nearest employee attend to that guest.

Trend Five: Chatbot Concierge

Hoteliers are in a complicated place right now. As customers regain the confidence to travel once again, hospitality is still short of employees. To ensure a good customer experience, you must meet guest demands around the clock with fewer staff. However, the last two years have seen another older technology find a place. Chatbots are no longer a luxury of big retailers, it’s a necessity for many businesses.

One of the great success stories is the digital concierge. Guests can ask – and get answers to – questions around the clock and make requests that they would previously have made in person such as toilet rolls, alarms, room service, and more.

Many hoteliers now offer chatbots through dedicated websites, as many as 29.2% according to a recent survey, a figure that has doubled since 2019.

Trend Six: Internet of Things

Energy efficiency is not something that most outside hospitality would associate with it. However, Internet of Things (IoT) is helping hotels and other hospitality outlets improve sustainability. IoT in hotel rooms help guests manage lighting and temperature better, to set auto switch off functions for lights when the room is empty.

IoT in hotels allows owners, managers, and hoteliers to also anticipate the needs of a customer. It can see their trends, how they use the facilities, and anticipate them. For example, putting on the lights low at the time they get in each night, setting a diffuser, or anticipating the time they have typically woken up.

What Does the Future of Hospitality Tech Look Like?

COVID-19 changed everything. Things will never again be the way they were in 2019. Hospitality must adapt right across the board. Travellers today want contactless payments, easier access to self-service, and lower risks when travelling, especially while the world emerges from COVID-19. Hospitality can and is providing this, along with reassurances of personal safety and low risk through these technologies.

It’s down to hospitality providers to stay up to date and anticipate evolving customer needs through flexibility and taking up emerging technologies.

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