Tech Boom or Tech Bust?

By Wendy Stevens Executive Vice President, First Hospitality Group | June 18, 2017

The reality is that technology does have limits, and in an industry where personal connection and engagement play such a crucial role, it is worth asking just how far the benefits of technology really go—and what kinds of changes hoteliers will have to make to be able to use technology effectively without diminishing the people skills of employees and sacrificing essential elements that have long defined hospitality.

In other words: getting the most out of new tech tools also means appreciating not only how tech can help us, but how it can potentially hurt us. To use these tools, we have to understand them, and that understanding begins with knowing what they can do and what they can’t do.

For example…

  • Sales and marketing professionals in the hospitality industry can use new tech tools to communicate and connect with clients with greater speed and precision than ever before. But does the efficiency and immediacy of an email outweigh the potential affront that a frustrated guest might feel when their concerns are addressed with bits and bytes instead of the empathic concern of a face-to-face encounter with a helpful concierge or GM?

  • Technology allows sales and marketing professionals to be more proactive and precise in their work, but opening the door to new markets and new customers is only half the battle. Working through the potential complexities of the new technology is critical to ensure success.

As we observe how technology has altered the hospitality landscape, we need to think hard about these questions and consider the impact of these trade-offs.

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Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.