Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Digitalization: The Key to Making Hotel Industry Ready for 2023

BusinessDigitalization: The Key to Making Hotel Industry Ready for 2023

Today, people travel all across the globe for numerous reasons. Naturally, traveling from one place to another requires one to arrange for accommodation, which is what hotels provide. From business tourism to medical tourism and leisure travel, hotels cater to all types of guests and provide accommodation.

As a result, it is safe to say that the hotel industry is a crucial part of the hospitality and tourism sector. Moreover, present-day hotels not only offer a place to stay but ensure to deliver a top-notch customer experience with their world-class amenities and facilities.

However, to provide all their facilities efficiently and ensure profitability, it is essential that the hotel businesses update themself from time to time. This includes staying updated with the latest industry trends, which, at present, is digitalization. 

This blog will cover everything that you need to know about the digitalization of the hotel industry and how hotel businesses can benefit from digitalizing their processes and operations. Let’s start the blog by understanding the current state of the industry and where it stands today.

Hotel Industry at a Glance

The hotel industry has acted as an auxiliary to numerous other industries and has supported a hassle-free and swift flow of travel and tourism across the globe. Owing to the vast scope and size of the sector, it is challenging to determine the exact number of hotels that exist across the globe.

Today, people visit hotels not only because of travel but also for leisure purposes, as hotels have become a synonym for relaxation and a getaway from regular life, which has resulted in their tremendous popularity.

Owing to this factor, hotels are witnessing more demand than ever before, with many guests waiting for months to book their stay in the property of their choice. In order to gain maximum benefits from this tremendous demand, hotel businesses are left with no choice but to evolve and innovate in their practices.

One way to do this is to use digital technologies and digitalize hotel operations. Speaking factually, digitalization is not an alien concept in the hotel industry and has been the soul and heart of hotel businesses ever since its advent.

However, modern technology is more advanced than ever before and holds tremendous potential, especially for hotel businesses. Keep on reading to find out how digitalization can help hotels reap a billion-dollar opportunity.

Smart Hotels: An Emerging Concept

Source: Statista

It is no secret that managing a hotel is a tedious task, to be said the least. A lot of human resources and effort go into managing a property, and the larger the property’s size is, the more effort one has to make. Naturally, it isn’t always possible for hotel owners to invest hefty amounts of money to efficiently manage the property, leaving them with no choice but to compromise on efficiency and guest experience.

However, with the arrival of technology, hotel owners do not have to invest a fortune in their business in order to gain profit. Modern technology has secured a role in every aspect of hotel operations, from front desk management, food and beverage, and housekeeping, to auxiliary departments like finance, human resource management, and marketing.

Digital technology makes it possible for hotels to take efficiency to the next level and maximize their revenue. Today, hotels are using technology in every aspect of their operations and are delivering what can be considered a ‘state-of-the-art guest’ stay experience to their guests.

In the upcoming section, we will discuss how hotels are using technology to their advantage and are benefitting from it.

8 Ways in Which Hotel Businesses can Benefit from Digital Technology

Enhanced Stay Experience

It is commonly known that the core of the hotel industry is customer experience, and the better customer experience a hotel brand delivers, the more returns it will generate in the long run. This requires the hotel and its staff to create a wow factor and impress the guests, and compel them to return.

However, delivering a high-end customer experience is no longer a five-finger exercise, owing to the increasing competition in the hotel sector. But thanks to digital technology, hotels no longer have to put any special effort into uplifting the guests’ stay experience.

To elaborate, digital technology makes it possible for hotels to understand customer trends, preferences, likes, and dislikes and provide an analysis of the same. This analysis is helpful for delivering an experience that impresses the guest and boosts their stay experience. 

Moreover, simply implementing digital technologies like virtual assistants in the guestrooms is also likely to impress the guests, especially those of the current generation, which are more tech-savvy and prefer to do things the digital way.

Check-In Automation

Hoteliers often consider the check-in process to be a highly critical process. This is often the first point of contact between the hotel staff and the guest and is a make-or-break situation in terms of guest experience.

As a result, hotels aspire to keep the check-in process as swift and quick as possible in order to deliver an impactful and top-notch first experience. However, it cannot be denied that the manual check-in process is far from convenient and quick, as the guests are required to fill in a plethora of information as soon as they enter the hotel.

In this case, utilizing digital technology can be a million-dollar idea for hotel businesses. Technology makes it possible for guests to check into the hotel in advance and avoid spending time in the hotel’s lobby at their arrival. This concept is known as web check-in and is being widely adopted by not only hotels but also airline companies.

Through web check-in, guests can check in to their room at any time, which is usually during their transit to the hotel. This saves the time of the guests and gives them direct access to their rooms. This leaves hotel staff with less stress and effort requirements that would otherwise be consumed in the manual check-in process.

Luggage Management

Guest luggage is highly important not only to the guests themselves but also to the hotel staff. This is because guests often consider it the hotel’s responsibility to ensure the safety of their luggage. However, for hotels operating on a large scale and with a hefty room count, it is often impractical to take optimal care of each and every piece of luggage.

Moreover, hotels have to put in a lot of effort to transit the luggage from the lobby to the guestroom during check-in and vice-versa during check-out. Hotels often have to appoint more bell staff for this purpose, further adding to the already high operational costs. Therefore, it is clear that luggage management is one of the major challenges that hotel businesses continue to face.

Digital technology is an excellent solution in this context. To elaborate, digital technology not only makes it possible to locate the luggage and guest’s belonging at any corner of the hotel but also facilitates its seamless management.

Numerous robots have been specially deployed for this purpose and are acting as high-end replacements to the bell staff. These robots are efficient, reliable, and economical in the long run, making them an excellent alternative to traditional luggage-carrying bellhops.

Automated Mini Bar Consumption Tracking

Tracking mini-bar consumption still remains a challenge for many hotels, especially those with a large room inventory. These hotels facilitate numerous check-outs every day and are often busy, making it a challenge to efficiently track the mini-bar consumption of each and every room. On the other hand, untracked mini-bar consumption is a direct loss to the hotel as this way, they cannot charge the guests for their consumption.

This is often a lose-lose situation for the hotels, as either way, they have to compromise either on efficiency or on revenue. However, with the latest technology advancements, hotels no longer have to choose between the two. Digital technology enables hotels to automate mini-bar consumption tracking and is an excellent solution.

High-end technologies like IoT sensors and beacon technology make it possible for hotels to determine when a guest has taken something from the mini-bar. The charges are automatically added to the guests’ ledger and are reflected in the final bill.

This way, hotel staff no longer has to visit each and every room manually to track the mini-bar consumption and make complex calculations. This saves the hotel from wasting time on mini-bar tracking and, at the same time, ensures optimal revenue generation from mini-bar consumption.

Energy Saving

A major part of a hotel’s expenditure is covered by its energy bills. Speaking factually, a hotel spends around USD 2,196 every day per guestroom on electricity. These amounts, when combined, can sum up to millions of dollars a year, depending on the size and location of the hotel.

As a result, it is in the best interest of the hotel to control its energy consumption, not only for the sake of cost-saving but also for environmental conservation and sustainability purposes. However, it is commonly known that implementing energy conservation strategies can turn out to be disastrous in terms of customer experience and can hamper the hotel’s reputation.

In this case, hotels need to think smart and implement solutions that enable them to cut down on energy consumption while keeping guest dissatisfaction at bay. This is where the role of digital technology comes into the scenario.

Digital technologies like smart sensors are highly capable of understanding the energy consumption requirements of a hotel and optimizing energy usage wherever and whenever possible. This includes sensor-operated lighting and air conditioning. This technology is primarily used in common areas but can also be used in guestrooms.

To elaborate, implementing sensor-based appliances will ensure no energy is being misused, as it commonly is when guests leave the lights and air conditioning on before leaving the room. This technology can turn out to be revolutionary for hotels and can help them cut down on costs.

Mobile Room Keys

The concept of a room key has evolved over time from being a traditional key to a digital card and, in some cases, even the guest’s thumbprint. Regardless of their form or shape, it cannot be denied that room keys are one of the most important parts of a guest’s stay.

However, it is commonly known that room keys are prone to being misplaced. In this situation, the hotel staff is left with no choice but to create a new key for the guest, which is again a time-consuming process and requires the guests to go through additional steps to ensure optimal safety.

Moreover, when landed in the wrong hands, this situation can easily escalate into a major safety threat to the guests and their belongings. As a result, hotels, as well as guests, are looking for much safer yet more efficient alternatives to these traditional room keys.

One of the best alternatives in this aspect is a mobile room key. The idea here is to enable the guests to lock and unlock their rooms by tapping their screens. Naturally, this eliminates the chances of misplacement and ensures only authorized guests have access to the room.

Efficient Room Cleaning

Housekeeping is one of the most essential and fundamental operations of a hotel. This department ensures that the hotel is not only clean and tidy but also aesthetically appealing and safe for guests. One of the major tasks of the housekeeping department is to ensure that all parts of the hotel, including public spaces as well as guest rooms, are clear 24/7.

However, with limited staff availability, the housekeeping department often finds it challenging to achieve this objective and ensure optimal upkeeping of the hotel. This directly results in declined efficiency of the department.

Digital technology, on the other hand, is highly capable of not only ensuring optimum efficiency of the housekeeping department but also facilitating its seamless operations. One of the most noteworthy tech-based innovations in the housekeeping department is automated cleaning robots and self-cleaning rooms.

These rooms are highly smart and eliminate the need for housekeeping personnel to manually clean the room. As a result, the department is left with more time to focus on important operations without compromising on efficiency.

Enhanced In-room Dining

In-room dining is one of the most popularly availed services of every hotel. This is also one of the most challenging services to manage for hotel staff. To elaborate, optimally managing room service requires the hotel to hire dedicated staff for the task, which includes room service order takers, stewards, dedicated back-of-the-house spaces for room service, etc.

Naturally, investing additional resources for in-room dining can turn out to be impractical in numerous cases and can turn out to be a cost-intensive affair for many hotels. However, you do not have to be disheartened already, as owing to digital technology, it is now possible for hotels to enhance their in-room dining experience without additional investment.

With technologies like tables and voice assistants, guests can now place their orders directly with the room service department, as opposed to the traditional approach of placing orders over call. These devices automatically prepare the KOT (Kitchen Order Ticket) and communicate it with the relevant department.

All that is left now is for the staff to deliver the in-room dining order to the guestroom. One can either do this manually or utilize room service robots for the matter, further adding to efficient resource allocation and high-end guest experience.

These were a few of the many ways in which technology and digitalization can change the hotel industry for good. Naturally, after reading about all these advantages, you must be compelled to think, ‘what are the technologies that enable hotels to reap these benefits?’.

In the upcoming section, we will thoroughly discuss top technologies for the digitalization of hotels in detail.

Technologies for Seamless Digitalization of Your Hotel

Mobile Application

From digital room keys to web check-in and beyond, most hotel digitalization strategies are based on mobile applications. High technology advancement and incredible user-friendliness make mobile applications a noteworthy technology for hotels.

The type and nature of your mobile application will vary depending on its use. For example, building a simple web check-in app will be simpler than creating a digital key card app to unlock guestroom doors.

Naturally, the cost and time it will take to build your app will be highly variable as well. Therefore, we recommend you thoroughly plan this investment in detail before commencing the development process.

Website

A plethora of hotel websites exist on the internet. Hotel brands invest in web development for numerous purposes, from creating a digital presence to facilitating online booking and even customer support.

Having a website can turn out to be a game changer for hotel businesses and can enable them to create a distinguished position in the highly competitive market. As a result, regardless of the extent to which you want to digitalize your hotel, we highly recommend you build a website and gain a digital presence in the market.

IoT-based Sensors

The Internet of Things technology has revolutionized numerous industries, from healthcare to manufacturing and even transportation and logistics. The hotel industry can tremendously benefit from this technology and can facilitate seamless process management and automation.

IoT-based sensors are highly intelligent and are used for numerous purposes in hotels, from security enhancement to risk prevention and management and more. Moreover, as we discussed earlier, many hotels use IoT-based sensors and devices for numerous other purposes, such as mini-bar tracking and energy conservation, therefore proving the tremendous scope of this technology.

Cloud Computing

If you are a large-scale hotel brand operating with numerous properties, it is likely that you will take thousands of check-ins every day. In this case, it is also natural that you collect a plethora of guest information, which can be cumbersome to manage manually.

This is where cloud computing proves to be an excellent and highly useful technology. With cloud computing solutions, you can easily store guest information on the internet and access it at any time. This technology is highly safe and secure and is immune to security breaches, therefore maintaining the integrity of your guest’s information.

What’s more? Cloud computing enables you to integrate other high-end technologies like artificial intelligence and benefit from process automation. Moreover, you can use digitally stored information for experience personalization, an aspect widely looked for by guests when visiting hotels.

PMS and POS Software

Adapting PMS (Property Management System) was one of the hotel industry’s first steps toward digitalization. These software have replaced the old and traditional register-based check-in and check-out and are highly efficient. These PMS software enable the staff to get complete information on the guest, ranging from their address and identity proofs to their dietary preferences and personal likings. Hotels often use this information to personalize the stay experience of their repetitive guests and gain customer satisfaction and loyalty.

POS (Point of Sale) systems, on the other hand, are software specially designed for billing guests. These systems are commonly used by the front desk and food and beverage outlets to bill guests for the services they have availed during their stay. These POS software are highly advanced and enable the staff to get complete information on guests’ spending with a few clicks. Moreover, certain POS software can be integrated with other systems, like finance software, for seamless revenue tracking and management.

These were a few technologies that have the potential to change the paradigms of the hotel industry for good and bring a tech-driven revolution to hotel businesses.

Final Thoughts

We are sure that by now, you are aware of the tremendous scope and potential of technology in the hotel industry. It is clear that by implementing technology, hotel businesses are certain to gain tremendous benefits and are likely to increase their profitability in the long run.

All that hotel businesses need to do now is undertake a strategic and carefully planned implementation process, and they are good to reap the maximum benefits that digitalization has to offer.

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