Earlier this year, a new hotel, Flyzoo, opened its doors in the Chinese city of Hangzhou. With guests verified by facial recognition technology and robots pouring drinks at the bar, is the fully-automated hotel the future of hospitality?
A new report, The Drivers of Change in Hospitality, by Foresight Factory and Cornell University, and commissioned by Amadeus and IHG, argues that technology will help transform our experience of hospitality over the next five years. The report however predicts that technology will enhance, rather than replace the human touch; driving deeper connections, making guests feel more valued, and affording greater ease.
Since 1970, the number of yearly international travelers has increased from 310 million to almost 4 billion. Over the next five years these numbers are anticipated to grow even further, with revenues from accommodation services predicted to rise from $5.6 trillion in 2018 to $7 trillion by 2025.
At the same time, technology continues to transform expectations of what an efficient service should look like. Today’s traveler is likely to be better-informed, better-educated and well-travelled. To help the industry keep pace with these changes, the report identifies three key trends anticipated to transform the industry, helping it rise to the opportunities and challenges ahead.
- The Rise of Tech-Augmented Hospitality
Around the world automated solutions to daily problems are becoming more commonplace. However, while the report suggests automation will be essential to allowing hotels to optimize at scale, technology will be most useful where it augments, rather than replaces the human touch.
Technology will help to enrich hotel staff and deepen interactions with guests. AI can help to analyze complex data from customers, providing staff with suggestions in real-time. Whether that be in allocating the right room or recognizing patterns in behavior. Additionally, auto-translation technology will help staff form instant connections with guests from around the world.
- Achieving Cult Status at Scale
The most successful hotels in the world create deep, emotional connections with their guests. The boutique and luxury brands are typically the best at this. Guests continue to return because they feel they’ve been treated to a unique experience.
Technology will allow hotels to do what the best brands in the world are doing now, achieving this same “cult status” at scale. Through technology, hotels will be able to create a “kaleidoscopic” view of their guests, employing contextual data to provide an experience unique to every guest.
- The Beginning of the End for Room Types
Today, the typical hotel presents us with a familiar set of booking options. Namely, room size and length of stay. The report predicts this will soon become a thing of the past with the rise of “attribute-based booking”.
Business travelers might request video conferencing facilities, or book from 9am to 9pm rather than overnight to catch up on sleep. Holidaymakers might want to fine-tune specific parts of their room. Perhaps choosing a yoga mat over a desk, or by streaming their own content through the in-room TV. Personalization will help achieve this, ensuring guests are offered the additional amenities they value.
A New Chapter for Hospitality
The hospitality industry is changing. While technology is reshaping the demands of customers, presenting the industry with additional challenges, it also provides a foundation for hospitality service providers to meet these rising expectations.
Technology will allow a much deeper insight into guests, which will in turn will lead to unprecedented levels of customization and personalization. It will improve hotel services while maintaining the all-important human touch, create unique experiences. And allow for much greater customization and customer empowerment. This then is the future of hospitality. One that uses technology to deepen and enrich the human touch, rather than replace it.
Article by Joe Youssef, EVP of Corporate Development at Amadeus Hospitality