Hospitality’s Next Digital (R)Evolution?

Patricia PetrinjakCOVID-19
6 min read

The technological solution has a greater chance to be implemented if it affects the guest experience.

Conveniently, hoteliers and vacation rentals primarily offer experience. In addition to a few stolen robes or flip-flops, guests generally return home with experiences.

What is a set of mandatory tools and solutions for hospitality due to the crisis caused by the pandemic? 🤖

To answer that question – let’s look back.

Different Speeds For Different Technologies

For an industry that sets standards for guest experience quality, digital solutions are not at the top of the list. Not because hoteliers or vacation rentals are old-fashioned, but because guests didn’t care until recently.

Innovation and competitive advantage in the experience and comfort of guests do not come from elevators or hot water anymore. These innovations have long since been resolved.

In terms of comfort, circumstances have changed radically. The future of a quality guest experience is technology.

For example, ten years ago, very few guests actively used computers during travel and vacation. That is not the case today, with working from home and increasing smartphones and various device use. We can safely assume that every guest is also an active user of computers, laptops, or generally smart devices during his stay.

Slow to adapt

It is not uncommon to hear that digitalization is slow in hospitality. Or that the hoteliers and vacation rentals are not investing enough in technology, using outdated systems.

While human interactions were a priority fifty years ago, today, much of that experience occurs through technology. Not because human interactions are old-fashioned, but because the amount of interactions has grown exponentially. An army of staff wouldn’t be enough to promptly handle all the emails, calls, direct inquiries, chats, and communication through all other channels. And because smartphones and the way of life today can’t stand any delays.

Photo by Jo San Diego on Unsplash

However, this does not mean that there will be no points where guests need to interact with the staff.

1980-2000: The first (r)evolution, the creation of the property management system

Notebooks and journals at the front desk are a thing of the past.

The PMS system has taken total operational management, saving time, effort and money.

Creating the property management system is the first step in digitalizing hospitality and the basis for all other solutions. The PMS provided access and digital management of occupancy, room lists, and availability for the first time.

2000 – 2010: Second (r)evolution, web, OTA’s and channel manager

No service has designated a new generation of media users as the Internet, and the world wide web has.

Free exchange of ideas and information was the fundamental postulate of network expansion. The speed of network technology has confirmed the mass social need for a new form of information exchange and enabled a better understanding of new media and Internet technology.

Consumers are starting to buy online increasingly.

With the increase in demand, many companies have started offering accommodation that accepts online bookings. After an initial failure, online travel agencies (OTA) became the sales and distribution norm.

However, with the strengthening of OTA channels, there is a need for a better solution for sales management of different channels.

Remember spending hours managing occupancy on different channels, synchronizing to avoid overbooking. Hard and uncomfortable.

If you are still doing it, we are here to help ✌️

The solution was a channel manager, which, along with the PMS, again announced a new milestone in hospitality.

2010 – 2015: Third (r)evolution, online reputation and the golden age of OTA’s

Almost everyone advertises their accommodation on OTA’s that collect the benefits of commissions.

To justify and confirm the service providing, OTA’s start to enable comments, i.e. sharing feedback after the stay.

The new goal is to offer a platform where potential guests can find all the information – prices, photos, availability, general information and reviews of previous guests.

Positive comments and reviews, ranging on OTA’s lists, increase internet presence and visibility. Positioning when searching OTA channels and how to achieve the highest possible result is one of those questions. The answer is a bit longer 👀

The concept of online reputation was born, and all about maintenance and its importance is here. Based on reviews, ratings, or mentions, the way you are perceived can affect your business. Guests thus become ambassadors of your offer and service.

Ongoing: Fourth (r)evolution, AI, API and analytics

Digitally enabled productivity growth, artificial intelligence, analytics, and digitalization in hospitality service and travel planning phases.

Digitization is universal and crucial to business productivity and success.

Photo by Possessed Photography on Unsplash

The pandemic accelerated digitization in three to seven years; what was considered best in class in 2018 is now below average.

In a survey conducted in 2021, only 11% of respondents believed their current business models would be economically viable by 2023. Nearly two-thirds said their companies needed to invest in digital technologies to adapt.

Technology is not only a goal.

We have never had a crisis like today in the history of hospitality. But that was said both in 2008 and after 9/11.

There are indeed no crises that would be equal to the previous one.

We know how supply and demand imbalances will occur, and we know that adjustment is necessary. As we know, guests will still need accommodation, travel, escape, meet new places and cultures, and socialize.

So what will the digital future for hospitality look like? What will be the next generation of tools that will enable the digital revolution?

An exponential increase in guest experience and comfort will seamlessly integrate the physical experience with the personalized digital experience.

Imagine that you have all the instructions.

You know where to go and what kind of accommodation awaits you without stopping at the reception. Imagine automated payments without waiting, documentation and similar processes during check-out. The next limit of quality service will be the use of technology.

Guests now carry a computer with them wherever they go. These computers (and their smartphones) are their personalized interface for the rest of the world – not just the virtual world – their whole world.

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Although she would love to read all day, Patricia enjoys writing for Rentlio. Constantly trying to adapt to the Dalmatian way of life, you can find her walking her two dogs and/or reading on most evenings 📚