At the Intelligent Hotel Technology Forum (IHTF) in Paris, five technology shifts were addressed during the keynote “Hotel 2025: Insights into Technologies that will Reshape the Hotel Industry” with Jay Upchurch, VP of Strategy and Solutions Management, Oracle Hospitality. Upchurch referred to these shifts as “forces of change” and spelled out how they’re affecting the hospitality industry globally.
It’s crucial for the industry to adapt to these changes to meet and exceed increasing customer demands. Guests are looking for newer and better experiences, so businesses need to bridge the gap between old and new methods, mobile and social, and stay current with technology trends. Here are five forces of change and how hospitality companies can adapt to provide a wonderful customer experience.
1. Online Behavior
According to Upchurch, there were nine billion internet devices in 2012 and 50 billion are expected by 2025. Online behavior has changed dramatically and keeping up is essential to a company’s success. Research online trends in your target market to optimize your communications, increase visibility, and in turn boost loyalty, occupancy, and ADR.
2. Data Explosion
There has been a recent surge of data, especially surrounding the “Internet of Things” revolution. And this explosive growth isn’t going anywhere— experts are predicting a 4,300% increase in annual IoT data production by 2020. Businesses have big data at their fingertips, but don’t always know what to do with it. To see what’s driving buying behavior and stay ahead of trends, it’s important to tap into this data and turn it into actionable insights, such as developing targeted pricing or custom loyalty programs.
87% of the global population has a mobile phone, noted Upchurch. Hospitality companies should utilize mobile as another touchpoint for engagement and use it as a tool to personalize the customer experience. And don’t stop at patrons—use mobile to connect, energize, and engage your workforce. The key to happy guests is a happy staff after all.
4. Customer Expectations
“For the hospitality industry, guest experience and speed of service are everything,” said Upchurch. Customers are driving the hospitality experience by expecting more each year and aren’t afraid to voice when they’re dissatisfied. Upchurch observed that 26% of guests post negative comments and 94% are willing to pay more for a great experience. Listen to feedback and do your research to not only anticipate visitor needs, but to go above and beyond expectations. Perhaps you could deliver a customized mobile greeting when guests enter your establishment.
5. Generational Divide
It’s no surprise that there is a generational divide when it comes to the use of new technology. For example, there are 1.7 billion millennials and 62% use peer social sites to make restaurant and hotel bookings. Older generations tend to use more traditional booking methods via phone or direct company websites, so it’s important to offer both options to be inclusive of all guest demographics.