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Many believe that there aren’t a lot of ways to be innovative when it comes to the hospitality industry. But digital transformation actually affects all industries. In this article I would like to give examples of how hotels are going through digital transformation processes. What are the changes made and how they have been reaching out to their customers based on physical locations or preferences, using latest tech & digital trends.
If you think about it, in the service industry, the customer’s experience is the most important characteristic to reach the goals of a company. If you don’t offer a great experience, you have high chances of losing your clients to others. As we all know, differentiation & innovation are key and should be taken into consideration when re-thinking how to deliver high value.
Digital transformation has huge and positive impacts on traditional businesses. It’s a great way of enhancing the experience of customers. Integrating mobile solutions helps businesses become customer-focused by delivering innovative solutions as bookings & reservations, payments, staff service enhancement, loyalty programs, etc.
Customers have a strong access to information and use various channels to communicate with brands. Mobility makes everything much more accessible. With the mobile phone, the whole process has changed. The users search for the information before traveling, they compare the different destination options, read about the experiences of others and take into consideration their opinions, reserve tickets online, etc. When travelling they can also research everything online, from events happening in town to restaurants where to have dinner and once they’re back, they even let a review that other travellers will use.
If you are in the hospitality industry and haven’t adopted a mobile strategy, I guarantee you are losing quite a lot of customers to competitors that are more responsive to their needs and have become unique in the market. So what are main advantages of digital transformation in the hospitality industry?
The main benefits of digital transformation in the hospitality industry
The more technology advances, the more changes we find in various traditional industries. Why is that? Well simply because there are so many benefits for both parties; the business itself and the customer. Many companies in the hospitality industry realize that by adopting digital technologies they can have more brand awareness, increase operational efficiencies and provide a better customer experience. Here are a few benefits:
Reduce the waiting time
By offering self service options as check-in’s or even guidance in airports, you reduce queues.
Increase communication flows
You can regularly update customers of latest news and you give them access to content that can automatically be updated.
Take green initiatives
By using IOT in hospitality, you are going green. In fact, you print less key cards, less boarding passes and less papers, making it all digital. Also you end up consuming less, for example by heating the room only 30 min before the guests come back instead of keeping it warm all day, etc.
Know your customer
With the help of data analytics you can understand better you customer, you get more information regarding preferences and tastes.
Personalize your offer
Based on your guests profile you are able to provide high level of assistance and therefore increase the satisfaction.
Decrease your costs
By going green you end up reducing costs, but also all the digital transformation improves communication and therefore reduces those costs.
Improve your performance
Your employees will be able to offer better services because they have access to more information about customers, and also because you get better coordination & communication between departments.
Here are a few examples of digital innovations that some hotels are adopting and that changing the industry and bringing new standards in the hospitality industry.
Digital transformation examples in the hospitality industry
1 – Amazing IoT
IoT will be a $14.4 trillion market in the next decade and the number of connected “things” will grow to around 25 billion by 2020. Obviously this huge market has its impact on the hospitality industry.
- Self check-in – Being able to do your check-in by using your mobile has become a must. Offering this option to customers is absolutely an added value as it is in a way a self service experience that helps reduce waiting time for everyone. You increase the control of the customer and therefore his satisfaction; he has access to the information regarding his reservation straight from his phone. Not only do you increase accessibility to the information but you are also enabling the user to edit it. You are able to communicate last minute changes to your customer.
- Electronic key cards – A more and more common practice is to send electronic key cards to hotel guests on their mobile devices. Room preferences can be saved for guests that return to the same hotel or to an hotel of the same chain, ensuring they can enjoy a consistent experience.
- Personalised & smart – With IoT you have a stronger control of things like thermostats, you can include smart light bulbs, integrating voice recognition in the room to reply to guest’s queries, offer digital newspapers, smart sensors in coffee makers, all of that work based on movement patterns or that would even be controlled straight from a mobile device.
2 – Augmented reality
Augmented reality is an amazing technology that keeps on booming in many industries. In hospitality also. Travelers visiting a specific area could use an app to get specific information about the site being seen, making the experience more alive. By using the camera of a user’s smartphone, apps can add up information to the screen about the exact location, historical facts, nearby restaurants, and you can actually go as far as your imagination goes. An amazing personal touristic guide.
Hotels can also provide an immersive experience for potential clients by virtually touring the hotel, enabling customers to explore the space and its surroundings. Other hotels are including interactive maps in the hotel rooms where travelers can access more information about its surroundings.
3 – Guidance in the airports
An example is developing a mobile app that actually replaces the information center by providing information regarding food areas, shopping areas, terminals, all of that on a map. Also the app can inform the traveler about flight details, if a flight is delayed for example. You can even include an option that indicates how to reach the final destination of a user or an option to book a taxi or even to know about parking lot occupancy.
4 – Digital housekeeping
What mobility can do to housekeeping is absolutely incredible. It increases efficiency of the staff and obviously this means that we end up offering a better service quality and therefore a higher satisfaction of customers. Easy. So what can an app do for the housekeeping department of a hotel? First of all, it helps when it comes to managing operations and coordinating activities of the involved departments. The reception department is able to know straight away that a room is vacant and therefore ready to be allocated to travelers.
You also make management of real-time inventory possible and give access to this information to all the staff and make their work much more productive. You can also notify and remind the employees of pending tasks or last minute changes, include checklists in the app, etc.
Other than making the work much easier for all the departments and improving communication, we can include gamification for employees as a way of training them, generate reports of performance.
5 – Pocket concierge
Having a mobile concierge helps a lot to provide and manage expectations of guests because it basically serves an information hub. It doesn’t mean that you won’t have a concierge anymore. The difference this time is that the concierge accompanies guests wherever they are or whenever they need him. They still get the option to visit him at his desk but also the option of using an app to communicate and access all the services from anywhere they are.
6 – Big data & analytics
With all those solutions, IoT integrations, sensors, mobile applications, we have a constant flow of data. I won’t go over the power of big data in detail but let’s just say that it enables you to adapt your strategies to meet the user’s needs & preferences, improve the efficiency of your operations and increase your revenues. Obviously all this data can also be used to get better previsions & forecasts.
Digital transformation represents a whole bunch of opportunities for the hospitality industry, leading to great changes and growth. More & more hotels and restaurants are working with software developers to provide their guests with innovative solutions and big players have already adopted digital initiatives using emerging technologies such as IoT, VR & big data and the results are quite clear; higher guest satisfaction, better experience, better previsions, better management.
If you’re looking for software development companies that could help you with one of your projects, specially in digital transformation processes, here’s a list of great software development companies in Europe, give it a look!