These 3 Technologies Will Help Hotels Succeed in 2023
The pandemic was a tough time for the hotel industry as occupancy plunged in 2020 and 2021. A recent survey by Incisiv and Verizon confirms the profound impact, with occupancy falling to 44% in 2020 as COVID-19 began its global spread. In an effort to accommodate, hotel operators were forced to undergo significant digital acceleration over the last 24+ months, with contactless/touchless experiences and operations becoming the norm.
Despite the recent digital acceleration in hospitality, in 2023 a series of hurdles remain with staffing a top concern. Right now, according to Forbes, 9 out of 10 hotel operators said they lack sufficient staff, and this is fundamentally altering how everything from the booking to the number of available rooms to room service and housekeeping services can be offered (or not). Fortunately, a variety of digital technologies are expected to make a big impact in 2023 to keep rooms full and guests satisfied.
Looking at 2023 and beyond, here are some of the biggest trends that are predicted to help the hotel and hospitality industries evolve and succeed in a post-pandemic world.
Contactless and Mobile Integration Are Must-Haves
In 2023, checking in and out will become a mobile-first experience. Verizon’s survey found that nearly 86% of guests prefer a contactless check-in experience, and mobile apps as room keys will continue to become more widespread. And as the use of mobile apps is greater than ever, guests will continue to prefer and eventually expect digital technologies to be part of their experience from check-in, to cashierless gift stores, to room service and front desk assistance. In 2023, expect mobile to be the primary space hospitality pros look to integrate.
Digital Automation to Enhance Guest Experiences
Everything from the front desk to autonomous gift shops to in-room entertainment, digital automation is poised to make substantial inroads in day-to-day hotel operations in 2023.
With automation technologies, hotel owners can simplify many areas such as mobile check-in and check-out capabilities and convenience stores in the lobby that are cashierless and open 24/7. In the room, a connected television could do much more than entertain. It can become a multipurpose hub to buy tickets to events, book a reservation, and address other common guest needs while also becoming an advertising revenue source. Additionally, hotel branded apps can enable guests to control multiple amenities in their room, such as lighting, thermostats, shades and music.
Time to Upgrade the Network
When was the last time you sang the praises of a hotel network? Hotel networks are increasingly under massive strain due to the increased bandwidth demand of new devices and software, and besides, a slow or nonexistent internet is a surefire way to earn a scathing guest critique.
Many hotels are already due for a network upgrade to meet these demands. Upgrading to 5G networks, for example, can offer more speed, greater bandwidth, and lower latency than 4G LTE networks. To make these next-generation networks a reality, however, hotel operators will need to first identify the use cases that enhance the guest experience and improve associate productivity to justify the return on investment.
With the performance improvements 5G can provide, upgraded hotel networks can offer guests and associates expanded capabilities like property wayfinding, app-based in-room controls and the ability to monitor energy usage in real-time. In a connected world, hoteliers could also tap massive amounts of data about industry trends, guest preferences and associate behaviors that can be aggregated and analyzed in the cloud to provide near real-time insights to guide important business decisions.
The good news is that many in the hotel industry are seeing big returns to corporate travel and pent-up demand from vacation travelers as the pandemic fades. At the same time, many have already begun implementing their digital transformation strategies to offset pandemic-induced challenges. Now is the time to accelerate these efforts, not slow them down.
From expanded mobile capabilities and automation to 5G networks, a healthy dose of new technology could play a transformative role in ensuring that hotels continue to offer unparalleled experiences for their guests.