The hotel industry is huge all around the world. With over 16 million hotel rooms worldwide and a revenue of around $570 billion per year, there is a huge market for technology companies to break into. This is already happening in many places, with tech changing the way hotels work, operate, sell and more.
Some of the technology introduced into this market is customer-focussed, aimed at improving the hotel experience for the guest. There are also a huge amount of behind the scenes upgrades taking place, all used to improve the industry’s productivity and finances. In this article, you will find information on both customer-facing and back of house technology systems used in the hotel industry.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, many hotels, bars and other hospitality businesses were forced to shut their doors for months on end. People were encouraged to stay home and not mix with one another, leaving hotels and restaurants looking for solutions to this non-mixing issue. One thing that has emerged rapidly out of the pandemic has been mobile or online ordering systems.
As people were allowed back into hospitality venues, they were still often forced to adhere to certain restrictions such as no sitting or standing at the bar. Amidst social distancing rules, mobile ordering has become the norm and has been adopted by many hotel chains worldwide. With these apps or mobile pages, customers can order room service, a drink, or any other service item via their phone, with no need for face-to-face contact with hotel employees. This technology may have saved many hotels and bars, as they allowed customers back in at a responsible time.
Smart Room Keys
In the last decade, room keys have slowly become a thing of the past. Instead, contactless cards are programmed to each room, meaning if a key is lost, a new one can be quickly programmed by the receptionist. This, however, is becoming outdated already, as new smart room entering technology becomes available.
In some hotels, smart keys are available but have been slowly replaced by mobile keys. This means the guest’s key is coded into their phone much like their Apple Pay or Google Pay cards are. Now, there’s no need to carry an extra key, as their phone has the ability to unlock their door! Other hotels are using a keypad, thumbprint, or retina scanning technology to allow guest entry to hotel rooms, though it is yet to be seen how quickly these technologies are adopted or if the public would be happy to use them.
In some hotels, robots have been used for some tasks. For example, if you were to order a fresh towel or pillow for your room, it may be automatically delivered by a robot. This is great, as it saves hotel staff more time to be customer-facing and help with other queries, while the robots quietly deliver items to bedrooms.
Smart TVs and Entertainment
Only a few short years ago, we were all travelling without smartphones and laptops at our disposal 24/7. Before then, the hotel TV was an important feature. People would often book rooms partially based on the best hotel TV selection. Nowadays, though, we all have entertainment in our pockets 24/7.
So, instead of checking out what TV channels the hotel holds, people would most often rather know whether they can play their own devices in the hotel room. For this, hotels offer smart TVs with the ability to AirPlay or stream other devices through them. This comes with its own issues, too, as guests want super-fast wifi to make sure they can stream their chosen entertainment at any time.
Mobile Check-In (And Out)
Mobiles, then, have taken over the way we do many things. Entertainment aside, people can run most of their lives through their phone. Hotel-wise, that means the ability to book through their mobile and check-in using their own device too.
Customers want a seamless experience now, so hotels are rapidly offering mobile booking, check-in and even check out. This means people can cruise straight into a hotel at the right time and head straight to their room, without queuing or requiring any assistance at all. Again, this saves hotels time and money, by freeing up more man-hours for other, more important jobs.
Of course, there are also many systems aimed at making hotel staff’s jobs easier and more productive, as well as all these products aimed at streamlining the customer experience. Here’s a quick look at some of the back-office technology implemented by many hotel chains today.
HR, Rotas and Wages
Many businesses use all-in-one back-office systems now. This means one platform can manage your full HR system. Wages are automatically linked to the staff rota and their hourly pay, so staff are paid accurately and on time. This saves HR and accounting plenty of time to worry about other things. The data gathered from these systems allows for quick employee performance checks, financial checks and more.
In hotels, there is a lot of incoming and outgoing paperwork. Luckily, automation technology enables bots to read invoices, categorize them, file them, and even automatically approve and pay invoices. This may be part of the HR platform or a separate service that links in with it. Once again, this will be saving the hotel time and wasted wages, removing the need for staff to be doing repetitive paperwork-based tasks.
Jobs, Employment and Hiring
Hotel back-office systems can link with hiring, too. Many systems allow for the tracking of new applications while also automatically screening applicants based on certain criteria. This means that HR staff can concentrate on interviewing and onboarding new staff, without spending hours manually sifting through applications.
Technology is rapidly changing the way hotels and other hospitality sector businesses work. Understandably so, as each new piece of technology either streamlines their customer’s experience within their hotel or makes the jobs of their staff easier and more efficient. Technology is certainly here to stay within the hotel industry and new developments are popping up all the time.