English author Douglas Adams, famous for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (and contributing to a Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch), was a technology enthusiast. In a (very contemporary, even to this day) essay titled "How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet," published in The Sunday Times in 1999, Adams proposed rules for our relationship with technology. According to him, anything that exists when you're born is normal, anything invented between the ages of 15 and 35 is exciting and innovative, and anything invented after 35 is unnatural.
In our industry, the average age of a hotel general manager is 44 years old, so, for most of us, new technologies often seem unnatural. However, it's crucial to maintain an open mindset regarding tech, as we never know who will be the VHS or the Betamax of hospitality...
What is your prediction?
Unpopular opinion: we need to cut back on using the word 'revolutionize'. When we overuse it, it gets diluted to the point where it loses its meaning. After all, most technologies are only revolutionary in hindsight. For 2023, hotels need to first focus on cash flow and deepening their tech integrations across all outlets to improve KYC and TRevPAR.
Complementary to this, hotels need a clear roadmap for implementing next-gen tech, foremost of which is the metaverse or immersive 3D platforms which have a beyond lucrative upside for revenues from both increased bookings and enhanced upselling. I for one don't see the metaverse as revolutionary but a natural and inevitable evolution of our current 2D internet technologies.
Without a doubt attribute based (up) selling will revolutionize hotels booking and upsell process.
Attribute-based Selling (ABS) re-imagines hotel inventory merchandising in order to improve guest satisfaction and generate greater hotel revenue. ABS presents features that more closely match personal interests and give them a greater sense of control over their stay experience.
For the hotelier, ABS offers the promise of improved conversion AND improved cart value. Yes, like any other e-commerce model, hoteliers want to increase the value of the consumer cart. ABS provides an ability to reap more revenue for features that were otherwise "bundled" under a room type name.
You may ask, why would people pay more for the same product just because it"s presented in a different way? Consumers do not view goods as economical rational beings but rather as symbols of personal attributes, goals, social patterns, and aspirations (Levy, 1959). With ABS, guests have the opportunity to build their stay based on their preferences – to find the perfect room product, for themselves. Ultimately ABS provides a feature-driven experience where individual guest preferences are the starting point and the hotel stay is framed in terms of personalization vs price.
Hey! I'm 82. It's all in the mind. At any age, it takes 10% of a person's time to keep up with, and become comfortable with new technology.
I don't think there will be a revolution. But I think the biggest shift will be operational and back of house. Easier payments, easier check-in, easier invoice management, more optimized housekeeping and internal efficiencies. Replacing a lot of mundane human tasks. Smart hotels will convert that to more staff available for better service. Not so smart hotels will convert that to cost cutting and reduced service thus competing squarely with rentals but for less space. There is a chance to use tech to democratize luxury service down to the mid-level hotels. Empowered with AI tools, staff will be able to help guests in a whole new level.
I believe there is only one technology that will make a real impact in hospitality this year: artificial intelligence (AI).
The question is, what kind of AI? Will that be ChatGPT, an exposed-to-the-public AI chatbot that has become a social media sensation? A bot that is exceptionally good with language thanks to a training process that included digesting billions of words scraped from the Internet and other sources?
In a recent "interview" between HFTP CEO Frank Wolfe and ChatGPT, the bot itself identified the following areas it would affect hospitality: chatbots, virtual assistants, language translation and email and social media copywriting.
AI applications like ChatGPT or Google Bard may be cute and entertaining, but I believe in "embedded" AI in the form of AI-powered fundamental hospitality technologies like PMS, RMS, CRS, CRM, CMS, chatbots, virtual concierge, adtech, customer service and issue resolution apps, back-office operations, etc.
By integrateting ChatGPT with Ava, its automated virtual assistant, Navan (formerly known as TripActions) provides an example of how to use embedded AI. Business travel admins and managers can now use Ava as a personal assistant to perform tasks such as personalized data analysis, business travel carbon footprint analysis, corporate card management, etc.
The revolution which is on its way is the replacement of the PMS as the central element of the hotel IT stack. To leverage from Big Data or AI (the 4th and 5th step of the industrial revolution), hotels need a place with clean, accessable data. A Central Data Management (CDM) platform is the logical successor of the PMS for an intelligent data driven management.
Hotel companies, especially the market leaders are not data driven, what we all can see on their stock prices. Companies like booking.com have placed the guest/consumer/booker in the middle of their IT strategie and there, everything links together.
Hotels instead have focused over decades on the PMS (manage inventory) or CRS (manage distribution). The holy grail though is to manage the guest. In order to do so deep guest insights must be available centrally in a CDM from where all connected systems (PMS, CRS, CRO, POS, ...) can use the information to generate a better outcome.
In our modern world the PMS lost its postion. Hotels have to focus on the guest again and in order to do so they have to regain controll of their data assets.
Who will be the successor of the PMS to finaly help hotels to become guest centric?
This topic hit the press around about the time that ChatGPT hit the airwaves as well.
Naturally, voice AI is expected to have a marked impact on civilization. Therefore hospitality will have its opportunity as it relates to search and being found in a changing online world. How will the websites of the future be designed?
Beyond that, I'm not often taken by surprise with the 'revolutionary' emergence of techology as I find that most emerging technology is a variation on a theme or a continuance of a tool that has been building over time.
However, this may be becuase I'm involved with technology research every day!
The last few years have shown the hospitality industry is in a status of accelerated change. This year, the industry must be prepared for what may come next, which means greater speed to market and reliance on technology.
Hoteliers are looking to innovate and be one step ahead of the competition with cloud-based solutions and modern integration tools that enable them to innovate quickly or fail fast so they can move on. Properties know that to stay competitive and to navigate future disruptions, they need the agility to "plug-in" capabilities to their property management system from an ecosystem of pre-integrated technologies. In 2023, we expect solutions that:
- Simplify payments processing by embedding it into the core systems while evolving with new fintech solutions.
- Flatten the distribution landscape with demand partners integrated directly at the source
- Use physical and digital robots and automation to aid with tedious, boring, or administrative tasks
Speed-to-market will be achieved by unified technology hospitality platforms that remove silos and friction, and provide real-time access to data across all departments: operations, sales and marketing, distribution, and finance, all with a single, complete view of the guest.
Tech adoption in hotels evolves - there is never a revolution. The hospitality market is inherently conservative and risk-averse. Despite the acceleration of adoption of new solutions driven by the demands of the Pandemic, things have slowed down again as hoteliers revert to type and extract maximum return from existing investments - e.g. continuing to use magnetic stripe cards and not migrating to mobile key for door opening. New technologies will slowly gain a foothold according to generational familiarity - hotels will offer alternative service models based on clientelle demographics. Some guests will prefer a self-service experience managed on their own device whilst others will prefer a more traditional and personable stay. Budget hotels may automate more than the luxury sector whose requirements will be so bespoke and diverse that replication of existing practices and consistent support could be problematic. An increasing number of applications will be provided from above property as the gradual trend towards true SAAS delivery continues.
2023 is the year of ChatGPT and other Large Language Models. ChatGPT is a tool that can be used for the intelligent automation of tasks involving natural language processing and text generation. Once integrated with a chatbot in front-of-house operations, ChatGPT can deal with customer service: e.g. provide information, take orders, deal with bookings, handle customer queries, and manage complaints. In back-of-house operations, ChatGPT can assist in drafting texts about check-in and check-out procedures, opening hours of hotel facilities, room amenities and how to operate them, emergency procedures, pet, smoking and privacy policies, etc. Of course, employees need to edit the texts but the drafts could be generated by the AI and this will save them time. ChatGPT can provide ideas for the preparation of customer surveys, and analyze customer feedback (e.g., online reviews, social media posts) by extracting themes and emotions, identifying patterns in data, or proposing ideas for menu items. ChatGPT can be applied in the generation of text for social media posts, websites, email newsletters and other marketing materials.
The use of ChatGPT in the tourism industry has the potential to greatly increase efficiency in various business processes and contribute to the technology-enabled service evolution of tourism.
Let's use another quote: "we overestimate change in the short term and underestimate change in the long term." In 2023, nothing will revolutionize the hospitality industry, because our industry is notoriously slow to move. However, some seeds of that future impact are already underway. It's already a cliché to say that AI, ChatGPT style, will change everything, because it will. Our capacity to invent will increase 100x and the options for everything will multiply. If anything, every consumer will demand an even more personalized experience at every touch point, because that's what she will be getting in all her other life experiences. So hoteliers need to become even better curators and use their brands to stand for something unique.
Anders talked of "Promethean Shame" to describe how humans are constantly being outdone by their inventions. Even Plato was technophobic, criticizing the invention of writing for its negative impact on human memory 2,500 years ago! This realization is becoming increasingly widespread, due to the emergence of tools such as ChatGPT. We believed that high-tech and high-touch were in competition in the early days. But the line between the two is blurred.
To me, the revolution won't come from a single technology but rather from changing our approach towards technology. Take luxury, for example, where there is a stronger tech resistance. What a paradox! Think of a billionaire; chances are you're picturing s/one in tech. For them, luxury is no longer defined by high-touch services (like a valet opening a door or carrying luggages), but rather by being able to get in their room with their phones.
We must challenge our dogmatism about travelers. While connecting with others is crucial for a fulfilling life, we must question whether human interaction will always improve our guests' experiences.
If you can use tech instead of humans without diminishing the guest & staff experience, then always go with tech.
Whatever it may be.
Despite the demographics, a hotelier needs to be open-minded regarding emerging technologies. Emerging technologies are the latest remedy for all the modern-day industry demands and will help hoteliers be competitive and sustainable.
The core promising innovation that will revolutionise the industry is artificial intelligence(AI). Leveraging AI, hoteliers can personalise services and provide guests with the ultimate seamless experience. The beauty is that it facilitates any demographic to be non-intrusive, providing a hassle-free learning experience for individuals seeking AI-assistance in their day-to-day activities.
AI can exceed a hotelier's expectations by facilitating guest profiling and anticipating their needs based on merely a single-factor, such as a drink ordered. AI is capable of replacing human labour with robotics. It can perform duties of several staff members from chefs to receptionist during off-hours, leading to efficiency in F&B services and, overall, guest satisfaction.
Despite the numerous benefits of AI in hospitality, it's vital to embrace this technology cautiously. It should be used to enhance guest experiences without compromising the human touch. Further, it should not threaten the industry's labour force. Responsible approach to technology will help hoteliers be efficient and profitable while offering a memorable guest experience that fosters loyalty.
The biggest constraint for the entire industry remain all-in-one PMS and PMS centric environments. It is suprising that in oder to install or migrate a PMS or other systems, vendors are still charging up front professional service or interface fees to 3rd parties. In today's world, any user should be able to onboard their hotel fully self-service including apps that are connected to the PMS. Although a few PMS have become better recently with opening up their APIs, they still restrict users to take advantage of the complete functionality, change or migrate their systems easily and fast, and really become future proof with the agility needed in the dynamic market we see today.
More true open & headless platforms that are not centered around the PMS are desperately needed to adress the big technology challenge of our industry.
Choosing the wrong piece of tech is no longer the disastrous mistake it once was. The Cloud enables hoteliers to trial SaaS products, often at no or low cost, and carry out A/B testing.
Technology adoption rates accelerated rapidly during the pandemic, and they are showing no signs of slowing down. Marriott International's CFO Leeny Oberg recently told investors: "The digital experience and the experience for customers and associates is of critical importance over the next few years and forever."
Digital guest journey technology - contactless check-in/check-out and pre-arrival/on-property guest messaging and digital concierge services - is having the biggest impact because of its high ROI and long-term earnings power.
Consumers expect to do everything from their smartphones in their own time, but they are unwilling to compromise on service and experience.
Technology has changed significantly since Monty Python's and Douglas Adams’ day. Back then, new technology was cumbersome and Byzantine. In the movie Brazil, Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam imagined a future world literally bursting at the seams with the tangled wires and pipes of stifling and overly-complex technology. That technological dystopia simply doesn’t exist today 一 modern mobile hotel technology is designed above all to be seamless and easy-to-use.
Modern mobile PMS platforms are specifically designed with the 44 year-old hotel manager in mind. They feature vibrant and intuitive user interfaces that employ advanced app-based UI features that make it easy for a staff member to perform operations without taking their attention away from guest interactions. Robust automation makes the system even easier to use, as common tasks such as report scheduling, housekeeping task management, and even guest check-in can be completely automated through the PMS. An easy-to-use interface has another advantage for hotels: Because that 44 year-old manager can learn how to use a mobile PMS in a matter of days rather than weeks, hotels can focus on hiring staff who actually excel at the art of hospitality, rather than being limited to those who “get” outdated technology.
Integrated payment technologies can completely streamline payments for hotels and guests alike. Instead of relying on separate vendors for processing, acquiring, and settling funds, modern payment facilitators consolidate all of these functions into a single trusted vendor. Hotels receive a comprehensive and fully-integrated payment facilitation platform that offers direct priority support, and no hidden fees. Guests receive a highly personalized and convenient payment experience that allows them to pay how they want (local currency, credit or debit, or digital wallet) and where they want (in person, online, or through a guest-facing kiosk), and will securely save their payment information for frictionless one-click payments in the future. When integrated into a hotel’s booking engine, this frictionless payments experience can help increase conversion rates and boost revenue opportunities for hotels.
Mobile technology also simplifies the user experience from the guest’s perspective. Integrating a PMS with mobile check-in to a digital payment gateway and a keyless entry system allows guests to forgo the front desk and complete the check-in process 一 including selecting upgrades and amenities 一 entirely through their mobile device. This mobile-first approach can be extended further into the stay by integrating with a mobile point-of-sale (POS) system, or a mobile guest messaging system so guests can order food or interact with staff with only a few clicks and swipes on their smartphones. Ultimately, the most successful platforms in the coming years will adapt to hotel staff and guests, and not the other way around.
In my view, it will be a series of technologies that will drive innovation in the hospitality industry in 2023. I think the biggest change that we will see in hotels that’s technology driven, will be the disappearance of the check-in desk. I say technologies here as opposed to technology, as this requires the hospitality tech stack to be open and interoperable, delivered over a choice of channels, and deployed with the right security and infrastructure considerations to ensure a fast and secure experience for travellers. The hotel check-in and check-out process has for (too) long been a bottleneck in the ability to deliver a smooth and seamless guest experience, but with the right mindset and openness to change traditional processes as well as the right technologies, this is possible.