Is technology really a key selling point for hotel & hospitality customers?
Inevitably, perhaps, there has been a recent drive of pushing technology within the hospitality sector with the core belief that this in itself will improve sales and increase business. We take a look at this premise to see whether, indeed, technology is a key differentiator for a potential customer looking to buy. Or is it something else?
When we decide to travel somewhere, the amount of tech that you would welcome at your destination will depend on many things, but mainly your generation. The younger generation find it completely acceptable and realistic that, in the near future, practically everything will be automated. On the other hand, the older generation might find it slightly more difficult to accept these advances.
50 years ago, all that you would have found in your hotel room would have been a wired telephone, and - if you were lucky - a black and white television with a choice of 2 or 3 channels on it. Now you could expect to find a wireless phone, wifi and flat screen HD satellite or multi-channel TV.
Within quite a short space of time, technology has marched on very quickly, so much so that we now have technologies that seem to be able to help us with almost every single aspect of our lives. Making everyday tasks seem easier is very much the aim of these inventions, and in lots of cases machines are replacing the need for human input in many processes. This is notable in many industries, particularly in factory or office environments. It seems that businesses are trying their hardest to reduce the number of people on the payroll, and recently the hospitality industry - in particular, hotels - have joined the trend of using more technology.
We are in the middle of a new technological revolution, that some have dubbed "The Information Age" . What this will ultimately mean, only history will be able to judge as it is happening right now and far from done.
The more changes regarding technological advances that hotels make, the more it seems, similar to each other they become. The changes taking place are making hotels appear less and less personal, websites seem to be run off similar templates, making it harder and harder to differentiate between competition. Too often now days, the only indicators you are able to make a judgement on are the facilities and the price, the character of the hotel getting lost in a big blur with the competition. The trend to standardisation of rooms isn't helping. Ask a travelling business person, for example, to name the best hotel they stayed in, many would struggle to do so, unable to tell you the difference between one hotel and the next.
The advances, in a short space of time, are incredible. The simple black and white box television has been transformed into one where any channel can be viewed, internet connections are strong and often completely free, curtains and lighting can be automated, and the key card has replaced the traditional room key. Many of these will soon be automated via Apps on your mobile during your stay, making things very easy. Hotel distribution technologies are linking in better and better these days, meaning that the pre-booking, booking and customer care is much more efficient and can be repeated in the event of re-booking.
Learn Train Recruits work on the Erasmus + funded CS Tour project, however, found that these changes do nothing to attract the millennial traveller. The trend in tourism is now for experiential travel rather than sitting on a beach with a book for 2 weeks.
Whilst the technology and ease to book is crucial for ensuring purchase (and making it difficult will certainly lose sales) to think that this is the sole reason people are buying from certain hotels, is actually thinking that has gone slightly askew. The tourist now makes the choice to travel in order to experience things that are different, rather than hotels that are the same as any other. To capitalise on this, hotels must consider the experience they are offering. Providing the best possible tech environment for guests that visit the establishment is not a key sell, but the experience is. The personal touch should never be underestimated or lost, and there is a huge risk of that happening thanks to advancing technology.
In summation then, ease of technology is key to someone for the purpose of making a purchase but it is the customer experience that will ultimately attract the customer to buy.
If you would like to find out more about the trends of Tourism across Europe and the CS Tour program that Learn Train Recruit was involved in please go to https://www.cstour.eu/en/ . For more information on digitalisation, log in (it's free!) and search for Module E
What do you think of what we've said? We'd be interested to hear you views!