Right now, at this very moment, we live in the digital era. These are times when technology changes and transforms daily. Endless tools and gadgets already have an enormous impact on our lives. New technology is introduced every day to boost various industries, including the hospitality industry.
As a result, it’s up to the hoteliers and businesses to recognize how important digital transformation is for their company’s success. But before we get into detail, let’s see what digital transformation is.
What is Digital Transformation?
This isn’t just about investing in technology. That’s quite the obvious move for most businesses these days. Digital transformation refers to all the ways that hotels and hospitality organizations restructure themselves to empower technology-driven innovations and promote growth.
Even though many still haven’t heard of hotel digital transformation, the term exists since the late 1990s. In the beginning, it was used to describe the moment where a customer was connecting to a business via a digital channel or website.
As technology grew and the internet expanded its reach, more and more businesses started connecting their devices, as well as business processes into networks. Right now, you’ll hardly find a company that hasn’t done at least a bit of digital transformation to grow revenue, increasing brand recognition, or retaining talent.
According to Auriga, digital transformation has now reached a macroeconomic scale. They’ve already set predictions in place that definitely came true, such as the growth of success of cloud services. With all this in mind, hotel owners need to grasp digital transformation as one of their key strategies for business growth.
Digital technologies and ways they transform the hospitality industry
For all those wondering what good digital transformation can bring for a hotel business, here are just some of the many reasons:
- Reduce operational costs for the business
- Improve the satisfaction in customers
- Improve the quality of both services and product
- Increase website traffic
- Increase digital revenue
Today, the transformation in technology has expanded greatly. Businesses rely extensively on things such as the Internet of Things and software for managing things. Depending on which one you strive to achieve, you need to plan for the transformation of your digital efforts.
For hotel owners and managers, transformation is no longer a choice – it’s a necessity. If they want to grow their reach and expand the guest list, they need to look further than just phone contacts or direct, on-site bookings. People no longer go to a destination and search for accommodation – they already have this booked and handled before they depart on their vacation.
How? With the help of technology, of course! By 2023, it is estimated that 700 million people will book their hotel rooms online. In 2019 alone, online digital travel sales were worth $755 billion.
So, where should you focus your efforts to transform your hotel based on the digital trends in the industry? Here are a couple of things to pay close attention to:
Smartphones have been around for some time now – and they are definitely here to stay. Most people don’t bother to turn on their laptops to make a booking at your hotel or scour pages to find accommodation. Over 70% of travelers search their accommodation from their mobile devices.
This is why mobile digital transformation should be your priority. Right now, mobile is the backbone of the modern hotel experience.
Starting with a well-designed app to mobile-optimized websites, hotels can make guests happy even before they set foot in their rooms. Make sure to show your guests what exactly you offer. Provide them with photos and videos, 3D renderings, booking options, as well as the chance to check in and check out from their mobile devices.
A lot of things can be done on the mobile before, during, and after your guests’ stay at the hotel. They can book a table at your restaurant while at the room or outside, get access to room service, request laundry service, access hotel maps, and even open their hotel room from the phone.
You can make your mobile apps and sites as sophisticated as you want, but the key is two things – user-friendly features and quality design.
The internet of things
IoT describes the ability to join smart technologies and use them in a network of high-tech experience on a daily basis. It can include basic technologies like the option to stream online content on your hotel rooms’ smart TVs to more complex technology that allows you to control the temperature in the entire building remotely.
And not just you – but guests can also control the amenities. Their options are at their fingertips thanks to mobile apps and assistants like Google Home or Alexa. They can close the window shades, adjust the lighting, turn on some music, order some room service, etc. Each and every one of these features makes them happier and more satisfied and with it, helps you grow your hotel name.
In the hospitality industry where personalized and unique experiences are what puts you before your competition, IoT is an irreplaceable opportunity. There’s basically no other tool that yields such satisfaction in customers as this one. Combining the right technology to enhance your guests’ satisfaction is the right move no matter how big your hotel is.
Take, for example, the Las Vegas’ Wynn Resort. They’ve installed Amazon Echo into every room (they have a total of 4.748 hotel rooms! This was a big investment, but guess why we heard of it? Because it works!
Machine learning and AI have become invaluable in almost every industry in our lives. They are used to improve customer experience and tailor the services based on the customers’ preferences and behaviors. This is exactly what your hotel needs.
When it comes to digital transformation, AI is an amazing tool to achieve it. It helps hotel businesses collect and use customer data to improve their experience, build more loyalty, and improve the return rates. When people are happy, they are more likely to spread the word around. With just a bit of AI, you can create this rewarding circle of trust and satisfaction.
A hotel is already a place that’s different from home. But, it’s the home people have when they stay on your premises. By using AI, hoteliers can make the place more familiar, more effective, and more personalized. Thanks to data collected with the help of artificial intelligence, hotels can transform in a way that makes people feel at home.
How can AI be applied in hotel digital transformation?
The high-tech AI tools can be used in many ways in this process. Starting from interfaces that use previous guest data to suggest entertainment, events, and restaurants based on their requests and behaviors, to chatbots that instantly respond to interested guests’ questions and concerns – this can make wonders for your business.
Virtual and augmented reality
The rise of AR and VR in the hotel industry is mostly prompted by the number of information guests ask from hoteliers before they book or arrive there. Thanks to such technology, this information can be made easily available to all potential customers, therefore saving time and improving their experience.
These might be new to most people, but they have already proven to be very successful in the marketing world. For the hospitality industry, marketing is key. Thanks to virtual and augmented reality, potential guests can access the hotel experience before they actually visit the establishment. This gives you a chance to impress them without the need of sharing stories and leaving things to their imagination.
Thanks to VR and AR, there’s no longer a need to imagine how your stay at a hotel will go. Headsets like Oculus can offer an immersive experience, while you can create VR tours to show people your grounds, rooms, restaurants, and other amenities that they’re interested in seeing.
Some great ideas for using VR for your hotel include:
- 360-degree video technology – you can literally create a virtual recreation of the entire process from the trip from the airport to the check-out from your hotel.
- Virtual hotel tours – often made available on hotel websites, giving potential guests a chance to check their room or the amenities of the hotel before they make a reservation.
- Virtual booking – your guests can have a virtual booking through their headset by enjoying a lifelike experience without having to actually speak to managers and employees.
Digitalization in the hotel industry is critical at this point. Why? Because more and more customers rely solely on digital avenues for finding accommodation, booking their stays, as well as communicating with hosts and hotel staff. This is no longer a trend – it’s essential if you want your hotel to grow.
With a strategic approach to digital transformation, your hotel can truly harness the benefits of technology. This in return, will improve the guest experience, bring more people to your hotel, enhance the services you offer, and spread the word of mouth even further.