Examining the eight major trends defining hospitality
During the past two years, the pandemic has transformed the hospitality landscape. And the new challenges the industry faces have given rise to new business opportunities and priorities for hotel staff and guests. As we step into a new period of recovery, hotels will need to anticipate and plan for the new dynamics on the horizon, from changes in hospitality technology to a growing focus on sustainability.
Here are eight major trends that are emerging or gaining momentum in hospitality that hotels will need to anticipate, strategize for, and remap to enhance the guest and staff journeys.
1. KEEP IT HUMANLIKE WITH TECHNOLOGY
The human touch is integral to achieve best-in-class guest service. However, tech solutions simply can’t look human; they need to act and function as humans, while delivering real service value.
With the flourishing influence of personalization within technology such as AI, hotel guests and staff will experience tech that feels human. The personalization of technology will continue to evolve as hoteliers automate tasks with solutions, such as chatbots, that not only ease workloads for understaffed teams, but enhance the guest experience by allowing guests to communicate requests, ask questions and engage any hotel department via the bot.
2. THE END OF IN-HOUSE TECH SOLUTIONS
Heightened by the pandemic, marketplace changes have fundamentally altered the nature of hotel tech development. On the road to recovery, many hotels are focused on restructuring and growing their businesses, and they will increasingly leave the business of developing applications to industry specialists rather than creating their own.
Today, hotels need agile tech solutions that will continue to evolve and seamlessly integrate innovations quickly to meet new market demands.
3. SUSTAINABILITY TAKES ON URGENCY
For hoteliers, sustainability is vital for business success because it’s important to guests, especially when there’s a priority to recover revenue in a post-pandemic world. Being more conscious and sustainable can improve sales and profitability.
There will be an ongoing focus on sustainability, and hotels should have a strategy to address all it encompasses. And sustainability isn’t just about eliminating waste; it’s evolved into an overarching goal that influences everything from consumer behavior to F&B inventory management to hotel design and even construction.
4. HYBRID EVENTS ARE HERE TO STAY
Hybrid events are on the rise in 2022. If hotels that can’t offer facilities for hybrid meetings may lose major corporate events to competitors. To adhere to consumer expectations, hoteliers will need to increase the use of hotel tech such as contactless solutions, which will play a key role in ensuring guest health and safety. Hotels also need to make greater investments in technology to provide first-class AV and internet to support hybrid meetings.
5. REIMAGINING THE GUEST AND STAFF EXPERIENCE
With the rise of automation and contactless solutions – from mobile keyless entry to self-service check-in kiosks – the guest journey has become more complex, and expectations are higher. Hotel management and staff need to ensure they are meeting their guests’ needs at each touchpoint.
To lessen the workload on staff and to meet the demands of guests, a transformation needs to happen through restructuring the guest and employee journeys. This starts with implementing new hotel tech and low-touch solutions that simplify the work for staff and complements their jobs, so all of guests’ needs are met efficiently.
6. ON-THE-JOB TRAINING IS CRITICAL
Of equal import for hotels to implement tech to mitigate the labor shortage and help staff, staff must fully understand how to use the tech solutions. Hoteliers need to invest in digital training tools and offer step-by-step instructions that allow new staff to fully grasp the systems and solutions. Thorough training tools are essential, because many future hospitality workers likely will have little or no previous industry experience, as the pandemic has disrupted the labor force.
7. TECH’S HIDDEN VALUE
Emerging tech has been known to increase productivity, but its impact on employee morale is understated and will be even more important in an industry desperate to fill job openings. Tech’s ability to create better user experiences and simplify work will become a deciding factor in attracting and retaining employees.
8. THE RISE OF THE AGILE PMS
The PMS is central to hotel operations, but its value is sure to diminish unless it can quickly offer new products and services via fast, simple, and seamless integrations that enhance guest experiences and operations. In 2022, the industry will see the rise of the agile PMS.
In a changed marketplace, there are endless opportunities to create amazing experiences for guests and staff. From reimagining on-the-job training to understanding the value in hybrid events, hotels have the ability to create a new journey for everyone. However, it’s up to hotels to choose the right tools and platforms as the backbone of their transformations.
is Vice President, Strategy and Solutions Management for Oracle Hospitality.