The need to optimize daily workflows, provide a memorable guest experience and accommodate new market requirements and dynamics are the main drivers for the digitization in the hospitality industry. While numerous companies around the world embrace digital transformation, the hospitality leaders are not lagging behind. Many hospitality companies are realizing that by adopting digital technologies they are able to increase their brand visibility, gain operational efficiencies and improve the customer experience. That is why a growing number of hotels and restaurants around the world are collaborating with IT vendors to provide innovative solutions for their guests.
N-iX has developed efficient software solutions in hospitality for over a decade helping our clients provide value and personalization for their guests and effectively leverage digital technologies. Here are some of the most transformative technologies and innovations adopted by global hospitality providers that are actively implementing digital transformation.
Transforming legacy systems to provide modern guest experiences
Innovative solutions and digital technologies are providing new ways of customer engagement and interaction. In order to remain competitive and enable guest-centric service processes, hospitality companies recognize the necessity to modernize their legacy systems. That is why they invest heavily into customization and bespoke features for their current solutions.
For instance, a US-based hospitality leader HotSchedules provides cloud-based solutions to more than 2 million active users in over 110,000 locations. Despite their success in the hospitality market, the company realized the need to upgrade the existing legacy system to make it more scalable, add new features and integrate it with emerging technologies. In cooperation with N-iX dedicated development team, they managed to transform their legacy software by moving it from JSP to REST + Backbone + Marionette. This resulted in significant enhancement of all business processes and cost savings. So modernizing the existing solutions is essential for the success of any business since this enables them to provide a seamless experience and improve their performance.
Integrating IoT and wearables into daily operations
IoT in hospitality is becoming a reality with the advent of connected devices, embedded intelligence systems and the ability to help deliver digital experiences. Many hotels and restaurants are working on integrating wearable technology and sensors for facilitating their day-to-day operations. For instance, Starwood Hotels are integrating Apple Watch to enable mobile check-in and keyless room entry. Hilton Worldwide has also launched digital check-in and room selection technology for Hilton Honors members. They are now able to customize their stays by requesting upgrades or make special requests for items to be delivered to their rooms before their arrival.
Indeed IoT is being increasingly used by hospitality companies to streamline their operations. For example, air-conditioning control through an app, built-in sensors for lights, TVs for answering guest queries via voice recognition, digital newspapers and magazines offering guests access to their local news are just a small part of how hospitality companies are integrating wearable technology and sensors. And this is just the beginning of how IoT may revolutionize the hospitality sector.
Offering Virtual Reality Tours and Augmented Reality Experiences
Hospitality companies across the world have to compete against one another to offer the highest quality website and showcase the facilities and services they have to offer. Providing high-resolution images, or even a 360 video of the room can certainly influence the decision of online users. Now hospitality companies can offer a more immersive experience for their potential clients – virtual reality tours. They allow customers to actually explore the restaurant, hotel, facilities, as well as nearby attractions including beaches, museums, cafes, and shops. For example, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts are planing to virtually transport their potential clients to exotic locations through the use of Samsung Gear VR headsets as well as Marriott hotels. They offer “VRoom Service” where guests can order headsets to watch “VR Postcards”- immersive stories where users can virtually visit Chile, Beijing or other locations.
Augmented reality is another powerful technology which is gaining traction in the hospitality industry. For instance, the Hub Hotel from Premier Inn has incorporated AR by including a wall map of the surrounding area in every hotel room. Travelers can point their smartphones at this wall and view information about local points of interest. Moreover, AR also allows to take a virtual tour of the whole property and visualize the layout of the hotel and nearby amenities. So leveraging VR and AR technology allows hospitality providers to set themselves apart from their competition and showcase the new kind of customer experiences.
Leveraging Big Data and Analytics to Enhance Services and Cut Costs
Constant data flow from mobile apps, websites, social media, etc. opens new opportunities for businesses. This is true for digital transformations in banking, telecom, hospitality, and most other industries. By effectively analyzing data, hospitality companies can quickly adapt operations and marketing practices to meet the guests’ preferences, improve operational efficiency and increase their revenue. The collected data can also be used for predictive analytics thus enabling a hospitality provider to make accurate and financially beneficial predictions. For example, the US hotel chain Red Roof Inn realized the advantages of having a number of hotels located closely to major airports at a time when flight cancellation rate was really high. The hotels’ analytics team worked on identifying available public datasets on weather conditions and flight cancellations. Furthermore, they launched a targeted marketing campaign, aimed at mobile device users in the nearby geographical areas which led to a 10% increase in business revenue.
The application of Big Data and analytics helps hospitality companies not only create targeted marketing campaigns but measure success and learn from the outcomes. Another example is the Marriott hotel chain where unstructured and semi-structured datasets such as weather reports and local events schedules are used to forecast demand and determine a value for each room throughout the year. This enables the hotel chain to set prices with optimum efficiency by scanning price comparison services for the best deals. Therefore, hospitality companies understand the importance of building a 360-degree view of the customer so they can define where they are on their customer journey and provide them with the right information at the right time and in the right context.
On the whole, digital transformation may create a myriad of opportunities for hospitality companies. Some hospitality providers are already looking for ways to adopt emerging technologies and leverage IoT, VR, big data and analytics to improve guest and diner experiences and provide more personalized services. Harnessing digital technologies gives hospitality companies new opportunities, tools and solutions that can lead to a positive change and growth in the industry. What’s more, these digital transformation initiatives have a direct impact on the key drivers of their revenue growth. So digitization gives business owners an opportunity to develop a data-driven customer centric approach and enhance their existing services.