How Technology Is Changing the Hospitality Industry

Data analytics and IoT technologies have enabled the hospitality industry to improve operations, reduce costs, and transform guest experiences.

From smart thermostats to mobile apps, a wide variety of digital technologies is driving considerable change across the hospitality industry. These technologies offer travel, dining, and recreation companies substantial cost savings as well as myriad opportunities to increase revenue by transforming everything from their day-to-day operations to their marketing to the guest experiences they provide.

Of course, hospitality wouldn’t truly be hospitality without a human touch, and long-term success with smart technology will require striking a careful balance between in-person interactions and new, convenience-boosting devices. That said, smart technology is already changing the hospitality industry in a number of ways — and it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

1. Predictive Servicing

Data-gathering IoT technologies enable hotel engineering and maintenance staff to identify system usage trends and predict maintenance needs well before systems break or cause other costly problems. The gap between a break and a repair may be short, but it can still mar a guest experience — a flickering lightbulb, sputtering A/C unit, or running toilet doesn’t leave a good impression, and it’s far preferable to ensure these issues never occur. Similarly, hotels can use these technologies to track room occupancy in a way that informs their housekeeping schedules, helping staff know when they have a window to service a room without disturbing its occupants.

2. Smart Energy Management

Tools like smart thermostats and occupancy sensors can respond to changes in room occupancy to ensure no energy is wasted on cooling, heating, or lighting unoccupied spaces. Similarly, smart energy management systems can analyze local weather patterns, historical demand, and more to optimize a facility’s energy efficiency year-round.

3. Personalized Guest Experiences

In many corners of the hospitality industry, personalization is no longer a trend or unexpected bonus — it’s an expectation. Fortunately, technology is empowering facility managers to charm and delight guests with personalized experiences before they even set foot in the building. With access to countless data points on each guest (thanks in large part to the rise of online booking and account profiles), hospitality companies can predict visitors’ preferences, give them birthday-related or otherwise personalized perks, offer them customized service packages, and more. Further, automating the aspects of these experiences that can be automated allows staff to provide support in a more efficient manner and save their most critical resource — time — for experiences that require fully engaged, bespoke service.

4. Front Desk-free Check-in and Check-out

Many hotels have enabled check-in and check-out via mobile phone, reducing demands on staff and increasing convenience for guests. What’s more, encouraging guests to check in via a mobile app creates an opportunity to offer upgrades or upsells and build more robust guest profiles for future marketing efforts. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic — the after-effects of which are likely to be felt for years to come — features like these that can limit unnecessary in-person transactions will become all the more important to the bottom line.

5. Mobile Room Keys

Room keycards have been one of the most popular technologies in the hospitality space, and the integration of modern technology into digital keys is making their value proposition even more attractive. Not only is a digital keycard environmentally friendly, but it also provides distinct advantages to hoteliers and guests alike. For the former, it helps eliminate operational costs. For the latter, digital room keys provide increased convenience in both the variety of forms the keys can take (e.g. keycard, smartphone key, or wearable) and the functionality provided (e.g. support purchasing).

A Partner in Innovation

The kinds of technologies outlined above are already driving value across the hospitality industry, but they are seldom plug-and-play solutions, and need to be designed, deployed, and managed properly to avoid any issues. For instance, many smart technologies operate by gathering and analyzing massive quantities of data, but with great amounts of data comes great responsibility. As the Home Depot and Target breaches have illustrated, ensuring that customer data is secure is of the utmost importance for organizations who must protect guest data or risk suffering negative impacts to their brand image and guest loyalty.

At SEI, we have decades of collective experience helping hospitality companies leverage cutting-edge technology to optimize their operations, cut costs, and improve the customer experience. We understand that driving innovation in this competitive space requires end-to-end support, and our consultants bring extensive expertise in strategy design, product development, and change management to the table to help operationalize our clients’ biggest, boldest ideas.

Rob Purple

About Rob Purple