Blog | Top 5 new technologies to disrupt the hospitality industry

By Anil Goel

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, and automation are no longer terms encountered only in science fiction. These new technologies are being leveraged by brands across industries to revolutionize various aspects of a consumer’s daily life from healthcare, privacy, home security to communication.

It is safe to say that innovative technology has led to disruption in customer experience in every industry in the 21st century, and the hospitality vertical is surely not an exception to this rule. Below are tech-driven solutions that are shaping the hospitality industry today.

  • 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 when sales teams would keep physical journals to track guest activity and personalize the experience through handwritten thank-you notes. Cash registers are being slowly replaced with bar codes, mobile payments and now cloud-based technology, completely removing the need to have a physical payment system at the reception counter, subsequently increasing security, efficiency and transparency.
  • Ensuring a 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 information generated daily. The solution lies in how the organizations leverage their systems to synthesize the big data and actually generate intelligible insights from it. Big data solutions enable businesses to make data-driven decisions. For example, running campaigns on 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 AI in-house or trying to adopt 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 such as 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 and see the room service menu, either from their smartphones or from a virtual assistant promising an experience like never before.
  • Augmented reality (AR) is seen to 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 to help customers identify the safest evacuation route.

In the Philippine hospitality and tourism sector, more stakeholders are seeing the wisdom in adopting such technologies, if not actually slowly making the switch. Brands are upgrading their operations by digitalizing bookings, payment systems, and even room service, among others.

During the Tourism and Hospitality Tech Summit Expo held in November 2018, Department of Tourism secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat highlighted the importance of technology in boosting the country’s tourism and raising awareness to preserve tourist attractions.

All these do not mean that the hospitality industry will become completely automated though. Technology cannot replicate the experience of staying at one’s favorite hotel where one has a lifetime worth of connections and memories. These new technologies are aimed to support humans in delighting guests while making the overall process more advanced and efficient by eliminating middle layers and the unnecessary delays and losses involved in 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. This will enable businesses to build a consumer-friendly model, providing immense value to both the customer and the business.

While there might be certain barriers to the adoption of the above technologies due to existing infrastructure, security concerns or the complex interactions involved between multiple stakeholders, these are all potentially disruptive innovations and there is no limit to the value they will generate for the ecosystem. Each new technological development and scientific advancement will continue to make the world more connected and evolve toward a more personalized, delightful experience for the consumer.

The author is the group chief technology and product officer at OYO Hotels and Homes

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