Many people believe that there aren’t a lot of ways to be innovative when it comes to the hospitality & travel industry, specially when we talk about digital transformation in hospitality. But if you think about it, it’s actually the opposite. In the service industry, the customer’s experience is the most important goal for a company. Without offering a great experience you have high chances of losing your clients to others. As mobile has become a big part of people’s lives, it’s very important to adapt and consider it in the process of delivering high value.
So why should we go through a digital transformation in hospitality? Because it has a huge and positive impact on traditional businesses. It’s a way of enhancing the experience of customers. In fact, integrating mobile solutions helps businesses become customer-focused by delivering innovative solutions as bookings & reservations, payments, staff service enhancement, loyalty programs, etc.
Nowadays, customers have much more access to information and have many different ways of communicating with brands. Mobility only makes it easier and makes them want to be able to do everything with their phone. But it’s not only about having the option of self-service, it’s also about getting a personalised and intelligent experience.
Whoever says personalised and intelligent experience says big data. Analytics can be used to benefit customers as well as management; experience and operations. Mobility makes it easy to stay in contact with users, know more about their needs and therefore provide them with what will push them to purchase and on the long term, build great relationships.
If you are in the hospitality & travel industry and that you have not adopted a mobile strategy, I guarantee you are losing quite a lot of customers to competitors that are more responsive to customer needs and have become unique in the market. Digital transformation has reached mainly all the industries, and hospitality is one of them.
Building loyalty has always been a priority in the travel & hospitality industry. In this article I would like to give examples of ways hotels and travel agencies have been reaching out to their customers in the past few years based on their physical locations or preferences, using latest tech & digital trends.
DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION IN HOSPITALITY
1 – DON’T WAIT IN QUEUE, JUST CHECK-IN
Being able to do your check-in by using your mobile has almost become a must. Offering this option to customers is absolutely an added value as it is in a way a self service experience that helps reduce waiting time for everyone. Also with that option you increase the control of the customer and therefore his satisfaction; in fact he has access to the information regarding his reservation straight from his phone. Not only do you increase accessibility to the information but you are also enabling the user to edit it. You are able to communicate last minute changes to your customer, based on data, making the experience more personalised and making your customer want to use your product next time he has the opportunity.
2 – AMAZING IOT
IOT will be a $14.4 trillion market in the next decade and the number of connected “things” will grow from 4.9 billion in 2015 to around 25 billion by 2020. Obviously this huge market will have its impact on the travel & hospitality industry. In fact, lately, a trend has been to send electronic key cards to hotel guests on their mobile devices. Also, room preferences can be saved for guests that return to the same hotel or to an hotel of the same chain, ensuring they can enjoy a consistent experience. Another example would be smart sensors in coffee makers, thermostats, smart light bulbs, etc. that work based on movement patterns or that would even be controlled straight from a mobile device.
3 – AUGMENTED TOURISTIC REALITY
Augmented reality is an amazing technology that keeps on booming in many industries, in hospitality also. Travellers visiting a specific area could use an app to get specific information about the site being seen, making the experience more alive. By using the camera of a user’s smartphone, apps can add up information to the screen about the exact location, historical facts, nearby restaurants, and you can actually go as far as your imagination goes. An amazing personal touristic guide.
4 – GUIDANCE IN AIRPORTS
Having an app for an airport can provide so many advantages for both parties that I ask myself how it is that so many airports still haven’t got one. It actually replaces the information center by providing information regarding food areas, shopping areas, terminals, all of that on a map. Also the app can inform the traveler about flight details, if a flight is delayed for example. You can even include an option that indicates how to reach the final destination of a user or an option to book a taxi or even to know about parking lot occupancy.
5 – DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION IN HOUSEKEEPING
What mobility can do to housekeeping is absolutely incredible. It increases efficiency of the staff and obviously this means that we end up offering a better service quality and therefore a higher satisfaction of customers. Easy. So what can an app do for the housekeeping department of a hotel? First of all, it helps when it comes to managing operations and coordinating activities of the involved departments. The reception department is able to know straight away that a room is vacant and therefore ready to be allocated to travellers. You also make management of real-time inventory possible and give access to this information to all the staff and make their work much more productive. You can also notify and remind the employees of pending tasks or last minute changes, include checklists in the app, etc.
Other than making the work much easier for all the departments and improving communication, we can include gamification for employees as a way of training them, generate reports of performance.
6 – POCKET CONCIERGE
Having a mobile concierge helps a lot to provide and manage expectations of guests because it basically serves an information hub. It doesn’t mean that you won’t have a concierge anymore. The difference this time is that the concierge accompanies guests wherever they are or whenever they need him. They still get the option to visit him at his desk but also the option of using an app to communicate and access all the services from anywhere they are.
THE MAIN ADVANTAGES OF DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION
The more we advance in technology, the more we will find apps on the market that have the objective of changing the industry. Why is that? Well simply because there are so many benefits for both parties; the business itself and the customer. Here are a few that you must have gotten by now, but that I will point out to conclude.
- Reduce the waiting time: by offering self service options as check-in’s or even guidance in airports, you reduce queues.
- Increase communication flows: you can regularly update customers of latest news and you give them access to content that can automatically be updated.
- Take green initiatives: by using IOT in hospitality, you are going green. In fact, you print less key cards, less boarding passes and less papers, making it all digital. Also you end up consuming less, for example by heating the room only 30 min before the guests come back instead of keeping it warm all day, etc.
- Know your customer: with the help of data analytics you can understand better you customer, you get more information regarding preferences and tastes.
- Personalise it: based on your guests profile you are able to provide high level of assistance and therefore increase the satisfaction.
- Decrease some costs: by going green you end up reducing costs, but also all the digital transformation in hospitality improves communication and therefore reduces those costs.
- Help your performance: your employees will be able to offer better services because they have access to more information about customers, and also because you get better coordination & communication between departments.