There's no doubt that technology has had a profound impact on the hospitality industry. From online booking and check-in to in-room entertainment and smart sensors, technology is changing how we travel and experience hospitality services.
In this article, we'll look at some of the emerging technology trends currently being used in the hospitality sector and explore how they are disrupting traditional business models.
What is hospitality technology?
With the summer travel season heating up, hospitality tech is getting a reboot. Barely a year since Covid-hampered hotels and restaurants got back to something like business as usual, the technology that helps hotels, vacation rentals, and restaurants meet surging consumer demand for lodging and dining is experiencing its own sort of renaissance.
In addition to more established technologies, new developments – many arising from Covid-19 protocols – are flooding the market in response to the continued consumer demand for travel and dining.
An excellent example is the rise of contactless technology, which has become increasingly commonplace in the hospitality industry due to the pandemic.
As the medical need for these is reduced, the convenience and customer service benefits will continue to fuel adoption in the hospitality sector.
Some of the most promising new technology trends in hospitality are those that help hotel and vacation rental operators manage their properties. A property management system enables vacation rental operators to manage multiple listings on various booking platforms from a single dashboard, but guest management software helps hoteliers manage reservations, check-ins, and other aspects of the guest experience.
Overall, these technologies are making it easier for hospitality businesses to manage their properties and provide a better guest experience. And as the hospitality industry continues to grow, we can expect to see even more innovation in this space.
Why is hospitality technology important?
Like so many others, the hospitality industry has undergone a digital renovation in recent years. Increasingly, the modern traveler expects hotels, vacation rental operations, and restaurants to keep up with the times.
That means offering online reservation systems, mobile apps and services, and digital waitlists, among other things.
While conventions of running hotels and restaurants have worked well in the past, modern customers are more discerning. They have higher expectations and are often looking for a more personalized experience.
Hospitality technology can help businesses meet these needs by offering new ways to engage with customers, streamline operations, and improve the overall customer experience.
What are some of the primary types of hospitality technology solutions?
There are a few key areas where hospitality technology is making a significant impact and solving common pain points for businesses and customers alike, including:
Management software for the hotel industry
Hotel management software is a solution that helps businesses manage their day-to-day operations, including booking reservations, managing guest check-ins/check-outs, and tracking maintenance requests.
This type of software provides a centralized platform for businesses to manage all aspects of their hotel operations. It can help streamline processes, improve communication between departments, and increase guest satisfaction.
Popular hotel management software solutions include:
Oracle Opera - a cloud-based solution that offers a mobile app for guests and an intuitive interface for staff.
Hotelogix - a web-based solution that offers a comprehensive suite of features for hotel management.
Protel- a desktop-based solution that is popular among small to mid-sized hotels.
Vacation rental property management software helps vacation rental managers and homeowners streamline their operations, from listing their properties on multiple booking sites to managing guest communications and payments.
Vacation rental property management software helps vacation rental managers and homeowners save time by automating many tasks associated with running a vacation rental business.
By automating tasks like listing properties on multiple booking sites and managing guest communications, vacation rental managers can free up their time to focus on other aspects of their business.
While Airbnb and Vrbo have become household names in hospitality technology over the last decade, many emerging vendors have come to life, offering vacation rental property management software solutions. These include:
Lodgify - a vacation rental software solution that provides a wide range of features for hotel management, from listing properties on multiple booking sites to managing guest communications and payments.
Rentals United- a software solution that helps vacation rental managers list their properties on multiple booking sites and manage guest communications.
BookingSync - a software solution that helps vacation rental managers list their properties on multiple booking sites, manage guest communications, and take payments.
Rental Guardian- a software solution that helps vacation rental managers list their properties on multiple booking sites, manage guest communications, take payments, and offer protection against damages.
iGMS - a software solution that helps vacation rental managers list their properties on multiple booking sites, manage guest communications, take payments, offer protection against damages, and automate housekeeping tasks.
Restaurant reservation systems
A restaurant reservation system is a type of software that helps restaurants manage reservations, table turns, and capacity.
Reservation systems help restaurants take reservations online or via a mobile app, send guests reminders, and manage the restaurant's capacity.
The benefits of using a restaurant reservation system include increased efficiency, improved guest communication, and the ability to upsell guests on special offers or add-ons.
Using restaurant reservation software can help increase table turns, which is especially important during busy times like lunch and dinner rushes.
The ability to take reservations online or via a mobile app also helps restaurants manage capacity, as you can see how many tables are available at any given time.
Some of the most popular restaurant reservation systems on the market include:
OpenTable- a popular reservation platform that allows diners to book tables online or through the mobile app and also offers features like real-time table availability, guest management, and waitlist management.
Yelp Reservations- a restaurant reservation system that integrates with the popular review site, Yelp.
Resy - a restaurant reservation system that offers features like online booking, table management, and guest CRM.
SevenRooms - a restaurant reservation and guest management system that offers features like online booking, table management, and guest CRM.
What technology trends are disrupting the hospitality industry?
In addition to specific software, a few general trends are disrupting the hospitality tech landscape.
Technology trends: contactless services
Contactless services are those that allow guests to interact with businesses without coming into physical contact with them.
This can take the form of things like mobile ordering and payment, self-service check-in and checkout, and even keyless room entry.
Some of the market disruptors making use of contactless technology include:
Canary Technologies - provider of a mobile app that allows guests to book rooms, order food and drink, and even request extra amenities without ever having to speak to a hotel staff member. Contactless check-in and out is a key feature of their service, as is the built-in messaging service, offering more convenience to customers and upselling opportunities for hotels.
Duve - focused on automation, Duve's solution includes a self-service mobile check-in and check-out system that uses RFID technology, which allows guests to use their keycards to unlock their room doors and order room service or other items through a mobile device. Duve also offers a mobile app for guests that covers all the essential features you would expect, from booking and payments to check-in and checkout, as well as some added extras like the ability to order room service. With Duve, hotels reap the benefits of built-in-data analytics and upselling service, such as pre-scheduled messages, a smart late checkout upsell system, and broadcasting abilities.
Intelity - a provider of complete technology solutions for the hospitality industry, Intelity has a wide-reaching client list that includes major hotel brands such as Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt. One of its most popular products is ICE (Interactive Customer Experience), an end-to-end integrated guest services platform that includes a mobile app, in-room tablets, and an interactive TV platform. ICE provides guests with a central location to view hotel information and services, book reservations, and order room service. For hotel staff, ICE offers features such as the ability to upsell services to guests and send targeted messages.
Technology trends: online booking engines
Booking online has become the norm for many travelers, and the hospitality industry has had to adapt.
Online travel agencies (OTAs) such as Expedia and Priceline have taken a significant share of the hotel booking market, and hotels are now starting to fight back.
Hotels are increasingly offering their own online booking platforms that offer guests perks such as early check-in, late check-out, and free Wi-Fi.
Some hotel chains even offer mobile apps that allow hotel guests to check-in and check-out without going to the front desk.
Some of the leading players in the online booking space are:
CloudBeds - a cloud-based, integrated platform that helps hotels increase bookings and revenue, CloudBeds offers a suite of tools to manage inventory, rates, and distribution. The booking engine is designed to increase conversion rates, and the company offers a commission-free, pay-per-booking model.
FareHarbor - a cloud-based booking and reservation system for tours and activities, FareHarbor helps tour operators manage inventory, pricing, and promotions. The company offers a commission-free model and a pay-per-booking option.
Tock - Tock is a cloud-based reservation and table management system for restaurants. The system helps restaurants manage reservations, waitlists, and tables. Tock offers a pay-per-booking model that charges a flat fee per reservation.
Technology trends: smart building technology
Smart building technology is an emerging area of technology used in the hospitality industry. Smart building technology includes systems that manage energy use, lighting, climate control, security, and other aspects of a building.
Some examples of smart building technology that is being used in the hospitality industry are:
Microshare - allows hotels and restaurants to share data with customers regarding the cleanliness, air quality, occupancy, and energy use of the space, which fits into the broader trend of transparency and customer experience.
Atrius - software that allows hotel staff to manage guest requests and bookings in one place, which helps streamline the guest experience and reduce the time spent on tasks such as check-in and check-out. It also manages building resource consumption to improve efficiency.
Igor - a chatbot that helps hotel guests with tasks such as booking restaurants and making reservations. This allows for a more personalized experience as well as freeing up staff to focus on other tasks.
What are the business impacts of adopting innovative hospitality tech solutions?
There are a few key business impacts that come to mind when thinking about the adoption of new hospitality technologies. The first is an improvement in operational efficiency.
By automating tasks and managing resources more effectively, hotels can free up staff to focus on other areas of the business. This can lead to improved guest satisfaction levels as well as increased profits.
Another business impact of new hospitality technologies is the ability to create a more personalized experience for guests. By tracking data and using it to customize each guest's stay, hotels can develop a level of customer service that is unmatched in other industries. This can lead to repeat business and an increase in word-of-mouth marketing.
Contactless technologies also allow businesses to focus on the health and wellbeing of their employees and guests. This is a top priority for many hospitality businesses, and new technologies can help create a safe environment for employees and guests.
Finally, new hospitality technologies can help hotels to be more sustainable. By using energy-saving features and practices, hotels can reduce their environmental impact and save money on operating costs. This is good for both the bottom line and the planet.
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