Hotel and motel technology has come a long way since the days of paper guest logs. Now, you can reserve a room on your smartphone and check yourself in with the swipe of a credit card.
But, according to a recent piece on the Hospitality Technology blog, the industry is in the middle of another big step forward.
The article says 40 percent of hospitality companies plan to upgrade their property management systems by the end of next year, with an eye toward harnessing Big Data to personalize the guest experience.
Tablets Are Everywhere
And when it comes to enriching the guest experience, everything is on the table – or rather on the tablet.
The second-annual Customer Engagement Technology Study, released by HT last month, projects that half of hospitality companies plan to be using tablet devices for check-in within two years. Nearly a third plan to offer tablets as in-room amenities.
Tablets also are turning up in restaurants, as information-rich digital menus (25 percent plan to use them by 2015), tableside payment devices (23 percent by 2015) or just to keep kids busy during a family meal.
Smartphones Also Play an Important Role
The study also notes increasing adoption and acceptance of mobile payments. In the next two years, 39 percent of all hotels seek to implement solutions for paying via mobile device. You’ll also be seeing more adoption of smartphones as room keys; last year, no respondents had such system, but 8 percent did this year, and 34 percent plan to have them by 2015.
“Unquestionably, the convergence of mobile, social, and consumer technologies are driving industry change,” the report concludes. “As the economy improves, technology will increasingly play key roles in the service delivery process and contribute to how guests perceive the quality of their hospitality experiences.”
“Therefore, it is incumbent upon hospitality providers to use IT effectively and appropriately to get the service experience right.”
Beyond the Guest Experience
In addition to technology advances such as guest pagers, which keep guests from having to check – and recheck – to see if their rooms are ready, IT also is being used to make hospitality establishments more efficient and responsive to guest needs.
For example, advanced
staff paging systems keep the front desk up-to-the-minute on which rooms are available and allow managers to alert staff to developing guest needs. Push-for-service paging systems are used effectively to speed up service and increase sales in the pool or spa area.
And, when guests check out, survey tablets are being used by top establishments to gauge real-time customer feedback and notify managers right away in the case of an unhappy guest.
And just like that, from check-in to checkout, technology is transforming the hospitality industry into one that always keeps the guest experience at the top of the priority list.
“The evolution of customer engagement technologies is leading to deeper and more meaningful connections with guests,” the HT study authors noted, “and hospitality operators are hoping – ultimately – for increasing sales.”
Jason Barge is a marketing manager at LRS and an expert in communications for the hospitality industry.