Information technology (IT) is quickly becoming ubiquitous in many industries, transforming the way customers shop, brands gain recognition, and even how professionals operate. This transformation is most obvious in web-based marketplaces like e-commerce, but there is also a digital transformation at work in trades like healthcare, legal practices, and hospitality. Tech impacts common hotel functions such as check-in or food service, as well as operational practices related to things like resource use and billing.
An effect of this technological shift is that more hospitality brands are outsourcing the management of their infrastructure to a managed service provider, or MSP. A growing share of the market is becoming dependent on accessing tech support through MSP software that allows for remote monitoring and management. In this way, businesses can take advantage of cutting-edge tools, tech, and services, without a ballooning staff of IT professionals required to maintain these new systems and keep them operational.
In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the cutting-edge tech solutions available to the hospitality industry.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
Virtual reality (VR), as the name suggests, is all about putting users in a virtual environment. It is a realistic digitized setting that gives this technology limitless potential for the hospitality industry.
For example, when customers book a stay at a hotel, they could take a virtual tour of the facilities. Such previews could be an excellent marketing tool. VR proved to be a potent medium in the wake of the breakout of COVID-19. It has allowed hospitality companies to showcase various elements of their hotels, including floor plans and demos of health and safety features, right in users’ browsers or on their devices.
While virtual reality is all about creating a digital environment that the user can become immersed in, augmented reality (AR) operates on the principle of enhancing the reality that the user already occupies.
Through the use of information overlays, AR enables users to see their environment from a different perspective, often with the help of nothing more than their smartphone. For example, AR can create interactive maps of a hotel, which users can interact with through their phones to learn more about specific features or perks.
High Tech Property Management and Cloud Computing Systems
Property management systems can help a business collect, analyze, and learn from data related to their properties. You can think of this software as a caretaker that is omniscient about all details concerning your hotel.
Cloud computing solutions have made this type of system much more accessible by allowing companies to outsource digital infrastructure maintenance. They may still need to install embedded systems and sensors, but they don’t need a mainframe to orchestrate them, and they don’t need a dedicated onsite IT department either. The cloud services provider handles troubleshooting, and costs are lower since they only pay for resources as they use them.
Internet of Things, Voice Control, and Smart Room Service
The internet of things (IoT) is the network of everyday appliances and devices that aren’t traditional computers (“things”) but are still connected to the internet. These devices can then collect data and send it over the internet to a backend server, which processes it.
The information from smart devices can help businesses monitor operations, gain new insights, and make operational decisions. Take something like the HVAC network in a hotel, for example. Smart thermostats in an IoT network can continuously collect data on the temperature and send it to the backend server. There the hotel can have machine learning algorithms process the data and learn from it.
Smart devices can also be installed in lighting networks, allowing for light intensity to be automatically adjusted depending on the amount of daylight naturally lighting a room to help save the company on energy costs.
With consumers relying more and more on their smartphones, a hotel can offer as many mobile-friendly services as possible to its users.
Common examples include such things as check-ins and check-outs, dinner reservations, online payments, appointments for spa treatments, and even room service. Hotels should consider offering smartphone options for these tasks if they wish to remain competitive.
The hotel should also have a responsive, mobile-first website as well as native smartphone apps. If they have access to one-tap ordering and scheduling, guests may end up spending more. At the very least, they will have convenient access to services, which should help improve the overall experience.
Ensuring Cybersecurity and Wi-Fi Data Protection
With this new technology, hotels can collect large amounts of data. This information might be sensitive, including passport numbers, email addresses, and credit card details. With such data in their possession, hospitality providers must ensure it is safe from unauthorized access. A breach could be catastrophic to operations, customers, or even public trust and brand integrity.
Additionally, with more and more users relying on hotel Wi-Fi to work and perform transactions involving sensitive data, it is crucial for hotels to invest in robust Wi-Fi data protection. Cybersecurity isn’t a nice-to-have extra for hospitality companies — it is essential.
Smart Marketing and AI Pricing
Another core area of interest for hospitality companies is big data. Big data refers to massive amounts of information and the processes and algorithms necessary to organize and analyze it.
Large hotels can have many guests, and some hospitality brands have hundreds of properties. If you add IoT data and mobile interactions, businesses will need a system to handle the flow of information. There are some significant advantages to having a big data infrastructure. Hotels that can organize and gain insights from this wealth of information can transform their entire business operations for the better.
For example, hotels can employ artificial intelligence algorithms to analyze existing data to determine how to promote their property to a new market segment. Or, the system can examine data about customer activity on social media and come up with algorithms that learn from this information and offer optimal price points to attract guests. Big data can help with operational efficiency, too. It can create useful data points for room temperatures, peak arrival times, staffing needs, and housekeeping inventory.
The potential for big data is limitless when combined with AI. Not only does it allow for the capture of more information, but AI helps provide better insights that can lead to more knowledgeable decisions and better business practices.