By The Nation
With information from more than 7,500 consumers and industry experts worldwide, Amadeus and IHG’s “Drivers of Change in Hospitality” white paper reveals three key trends:
The Beginning of the End for Room Types
Traditional room types have been around forever – single, double, twin, suite or family room. It’s a tried and tested format, beloved by hotels and understood by guests. However, research suggests that this will change dramatically as guests begin to swap desks for yoga mats, stream their own content through the in-room TV or ask for that room on the third story with the view they’ve always loved.
Hotels will need to adapt because 61 per cent of global travellers now want hotel rooms to be priced in a way that allows them to add on bespoke options. This will see guests picking and choosing individual components of their room, marking the end of traditional room types.
New selling models will also be required, allowing guests to book a room for a period of their choice instead of a traditional overnight stay.
Of the 12 markets surveyed, Thailand ranked the highest in the potential for room customisation, with 38 per cent of Thai travellers having already stayed in a personalised room and 45 per cent showing interest in doing so in the future.
“Personalisation is a major trend facing the travel industry. Consumers expect more personalised experiences, from the moment they begin searching to the moment they check out,” said Ahmed Youssef, EVP of corporate development and marketing in hospitality for Amadeus.
“However, with most of the data fragmented, the industry struggles with guest recognition and personalisation as these systems lack a complete overview.”
The Rise of Tech-Augmented Hospitality
Hotel guest experiences have and will continue to change in light of new technology.
Commenting on how artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented technology will change guest experiences, Leanne Harwood, managing director for Australasia and Japan, IHG, said: “With AI, guests can use voice commands to order room service, control curtains, set alarms, or even order additional towels. If a guest says ‘I want to work’, room lights will automatically adjust, the television will turn off and the curtain will be drawn. Recently we saw the likes of Amazon interject into the hospitality space with a hotel specific, ‘Alexa for Hospitality’. This means the technology will become more accessible and affordable for hoteliers and we could see AI and smart rooms become a standard across the hospitality industry.”
However, though smart rooms have the potential to become standard across the industry, findings show that the human touch is still valued. For instance, the study found that while 42 per cent of guests prefer to use automated services to book a taxi, 67 per cent prefer talking to hotel staff to make complaints. So, to provide better guest experiences, Thailand’s hotels must use technology to support human interaction, not replace it.
To help with this, the study details how technology can be used to empower staff to deliver unprecedented levels of service. For example, the deployment of real-time translation earphones and smart glasses could ensure that concierges easily interact with guests in their native tongue.
Achieving Cult Status at Scale
The kind of status usually reserved for luxury hotels will be available for all, if they can build a loyal following of fans who feel an emotional connection. In the competition for guest loyalty, hotels need to identify how to offer value by delivering memorable, shareable and unique experiences, which 73 per cent of global travellers say these aspects are most important for a vacation.
To do this, hotels must have a holistic understanding of each guest, from their temperament and hobbies to their at-the-moment needs, and offer a host of special and unexpected surprises. In fact, 70 per cent of global travellers want hotels to provide more advice and tips about things to do that are off-the-beaten track, with only 20 per cent saying they get ideas from their hotel.
Guest relations need to be underpinned by data-driven technology. Data allows hotels to anticipate the best way to make each guest feel valued, whether it is through unexpected perks, experiences or rewards.
Without strong back-end systems able to crunch through multiple datasets, deliver information where it is needed and simplify the implementation of new models, it is clear that hospitality providers will struggle to meet the future requirements of guests.