Gone are the days of Wi-Fi troubles and limited menus at your favourite budget chain hotels. These companies are beginning to bolster their guest experience with technology like IoT, and security measures like smart door locks.
To say that technology has fundamentally transformed the way we live would probably be the most hackneyed statement to make, especially in a publication like this. We don’t order food over a phone call now; we order it online. We don’t go stand on the road trying to flag an auto; we simply book a cab on the app. We no longer cajole the box office guy to give us good seats at the movies; we simply select them online. So, of course, technology has disrupted consumer sectors.
But has it disrupted all the sectors? Not really.
Think about your experience at hotels. What aspects of it have been transformed by technology over the last decade or more? Sure, you book them online now, as opposed to earlier, when you used to reach your destination and then make a booking. But you still walk up to the front desk to check-in and enter copious details in forms or registers. You take whatever room is given to you, mostly. You have to call to get Wi-Fi details. You have to call to get a coffee. You have to call to arrange a taxi or a sightseeing tour. Even in the way hotels manage their own operations, there is abysmal use of technology, with most processes still being manual. We are yet to see technology truly transform the front-end and back-end of hotel operations.
This is set to change soon though. Like most other sectors, the advent of new-age, technology-led full-stack startups will usher in sweeping changes in the hospitality space too. What’ll be even more interesting is the development of affordable applications that make this technology accessible at scale, rather than it being the prerogative of luxury hotels only. Here are six examples amongst the several applications of technology in hospitality that will fundamentally alter how hotels serve their guests:
Tech-enablement of the hotel staff has been as conspicuous by its absence as tech-empowerment of the customer. Reality is that technology cannot meaningfully enhance guest experience when applied on the guest-side alone without the supporting foundation on the operations side. Mobile app to intelligently audit properties, convert every guest interaction point into data, analyse and resolve quality issues promptly, train staff members, manage their incentives, and a whole host of other tasks will make quality control that much easier and more effective in a budget environment. Similarly, front desk managers will use tech to keep track of special requests of guests, create new bookings, do much faster check-ins and check-outs among other things. Finally, smart use of SMS and IVR as a platform allows integration of even the housekeeping staff, who may not use smartphones, into the tech-led service architecture where they get alerts, service requests, training tips, and assessments on these platforms.
If you are running a large network of hotels, you are probably in for a nightmare when monitoring the health of assets that go into this network. Whether it’s the televisions, the air-conditioners, the WiFi network, or even the electricity connection - all need to be actively monitored and controlled. This is where Internet of Things (IoT) technology comes into play. Sensors placed on each of these devices send out regular information about the device as well as receive information and adjust the behaviour of the device or appliance accordingly. This technology can be used to monitor and figure out which properties face Internet connectivity or bandwidth issues, enabling the company to take corrective action before it interferes with guest experience. In the near future, the tech-savvy chains will also be able to use this technology to check fraud by connecting the electricity supply of rooms to the property management system such that no one can switch on the lights in a room unless the room is shown checked in on the system
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)