In a fast paced, (ever changing), hospitality landscape, technology is advancing in industry to improve processes, increase guest experience, and ultimately make things easier. Throughout the hotel and restaurant industry as an example, IT, E-commerce and other technological solutions have/or are being introduced at speed, and are now a familiar sight for guests in front of house operations.
Online travel sites have been the norm for many years. The likes of companies such as Expedia Group, Inc, (which offers an online travel shop for consumer and small business travel) have been around for over 25. It is almost impossible to remember a time when you couldn’t book a hotel stay at the touch of a button. And it is in line with consumer demands. In fact, according to StratosJets Charters, 83% of adults want to book their trips online. And not only that, but consumers want to read online reviews, and check out facilities all online prior to their visit.
It is not surprising that based on this, other forms of technology in the hospitality sector have emerged. We haven't even touched on the successor to the online website - the downloadable mobile app! The online check in. The wallet style boarding pass.
Let’s take the restaurant sector. Over 84% of UK citizens have used a QR code to pay for a meal, establishing their presence as a staple in restaurant payment options. The QR code, developed in 1994 by Japanese automotive company Denso Wave, became popular outside of the car industry for its fast readability and storage capacity compared to normal barcodes. However, it wasn’t until 2020 that the use of QR codes became far more mainstream in the restaurant market. Adoption was perhaps not as widespread as first thought, but after the hit of the COVID pandemic, restaurants were looking for a way to reopen in safety, without having to get too close and personal to diners. The QR code provided a solution to that problem, with the ability to order food or drinks directly from menus straight to the kitchen or bar.
The COVID pandemic no doubt accelerated technology adoption in some hospitality businesses. The increase (or new addition) of home delivery services for restaurants who could not accept guests. Touchless alternatives. Contactless payments. Aside from speeding up payment processes, contactless payments meant no touch points for the customer for hygiene purposes, and increased ease of use. During 2020, the number of cash payments made fell by 35% overall.
So where is the industry heading?
All set to revolutionise the hotel and restaurant industry (and most likely coming to a venue near you!) for 2022 and beyond are keyless entry systems, more advanced voice recognition technology, automated property management systems, infrared scanners, and of course – robotics. Robots could be one of the most exciting trends in hospitality as they have many applications. From a novelty concept, the pandemic proved even more so that robots in industry could be used for practical applications, and provide a real benefit to teams. Used to support housekeeping teams with vacuuming tasks (leaving them to concentrate on more pressing and important touch points that during the pandemic would have been critical). And more recently, to support restaurant teams during a staffing crisis, transporting goods via tray delivery systems to kitchens, and even to those take-away delivery drivers that have increased in popularity since the pandemic started.
What is clear, above all, is that technology is not simply “going away”. And as both a consumer, and as a hospitality business, it is time to embrace it or fall behind.