A new study has found that hotel operators are expecting that guests in the coming years will expect increasingly complex technology from the industry, yet there are some questions as to whether hoteliers will be able to keep up with the pace of innovation as the year 2020 draws nearer.

In what has been described as a startling research find, the conclusion appears in a study dubbed ‘The Hotel Industry in 2020,’ which was conducted by , IDeaS Revenue Solutions, Revinate, and SiteMinder. This study combined survey results from hundreds of key operators throughout the global hospitality industry, including a visioning session with some of the most experienced hoteliers and consultants, which was held amid the World Travel Market, otherwise known as WTM, in London during November of 2016.

“The combined research explored anticipated hotel guests of 2020, as well as the technology needed to cater to their needs,” said Peter O’Connor, who is a professor at ESSEC Business School. “We wanted to hear directly from hoteliers about how the future traveler would look, and the measures needed to prepare for them.”

Those surveyed in the research were almost uniformly agreed that guests will become increasingly sophisticated in terms of the ways they seek unique experiences, and they will also bring with them high expectations from the hotels that they stay at. These guests, which are being referred to as “digital natives,” will increasingly depend on their mobile devices in order to interact with hotels, whether it be before, during, or after their time staying there.

The role of human interaction, as it applies to guest experiences, will continue to diminish, with the guests of the future instead using flexibility, value and control as more influential factors in their buying choices.

However, when those surveyed were asked what technology they thought would be key to the global hospitality industry’s success in the year 2020, many offered examples of technology that has already been implemented by the vast majority of hotels, including revenue management systems, property management systems, e-marketing solutions, channel managers, and customer relationship management systems, to name a few. As a result, some experts say that this study reveals a concerning lack of foresight on behalf of the global hospitality industry.

However, there were others who showed themselves to be a bit more forward-thinking. Expert respondents, who were largely operating managers and consultants from a few Euro hotel properties as well as technology areas, pointed to middleware, artificial intelligence (AI), predictive analysis tools, and management dashboards that provide better integrated views of guest, as potential evolutions for the tech-based solutions currently being used in the industry. Other predictions included better messaging solutions and Bluetooth beacons that can help to foster a deeper level of engagement with hotel guests.

There were, however, also roadblocks that could possible occur, according to those surveys, and these included data protection and privacy issues, as well as conservative attitudes that sometimes cripple progress throughout the industry.

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