People love saying how behind our industry is when it comes to technology.
But hospitality software is developing faster than ever, and hoteliers have become more enthusiastic about adopting new tech.
There are two main reasons for this.
First, today’s guests expect it. Travelers are more tech-savvy and less willing to do without their favorite tools while on the road.
Second, ongoing challenges around staffing and high operating costs force hotels to look for more cost-effective solutions. Often this involves implementing new hospitality software.
In short, leveraging the latest technology is the key to keeping your business viable from a guest, operations and investor perspective.
It’s All About the Guest Experience
Hospitality software is a powerful tool for enhancing your guest’s experience throughout the entire customer journey. Just think of how convenient a good booking engine is, or how much time contactless check-in and check-out can save.
But that’s not all! Let’s look at how you can use technology to learn from every guest’s stay and keep finding new ways to offer better, more personalized service.
Guest feedback collection and analysis
You already know this: it’s essential to understand how your guests feel about their stay. But it can be hard to ask all travelers for feedback during check-out. Often they’re in a hurry to catch their flight or your staff has to be quick because more people are waiting in line.
Recently contactless check-out has added to the challenge because it takes away the opportunity to ask for comments in person.
Luckily, there’s hospitality software that can automate feedback collection. It reaches out to all guests without fail and asks for their comments. Next, it encourages the happiest travelers to share their thoughts on TripAdvisor or Google. That can increase your 5-star reviews by up to 350%!
But you’re not quite done yet. Analyze your reviews to spot trends and common complaints, so you can correct course.
Real-time service recovery and issue resolution
Checking in with your guests during their stay is the best way to ensure they’re having a memorable experience. It also gives you the chance to find out about and solve problems while they’re still in-house. This makes guests feel valued and gives you a chance to wow them with great service.
In the past, that was only possible by calling people in the room or asking them in person if they happened to stop by reception. Unsurprisingly, a lot of issues went unreported, and you may have only learned about them via a negative review.
Now you can leverage guest communication tools to follow up with all travelers automatically. That saves you time and gives every guest the chance to respond with requests, questions, praise or complaints. As a result, your team will have an easier time stepping in where needed.
Reputation management and online review monitoring
With so many different review sites available, it can feel impossible to monitor and manage them all. That’s where reputation management tools come in. Use them to pull reviews from all platforms and keep an overview of your online reputation in one centralized dashboard.
This also makes it easier to respond to all recent comments and analyze them to discover common themes. Just like with direct guest feedback, software can help you speed up this process, so you have more time to work on the solution and engage with your guests.
Security and Data Protection Have Never Been More Important
Unfortunately, data breaches are nothing new in hospitality. Some of the biggest brands have fallen victim. The fact that even large groups with big IT teams face this issue shows that our industry has a long way to go when it comes to data security. Here are four things you can do to keep your data safe.
Data privacy and security in hospitality software
When revamping or expanding your tech stack, it’s crucial to work only with partners who take data security and privacy seriously.
Before signing on a new tech partner, ask the following questions:
- Are they GDPR-compliant? Or do they follow similar regulations (e.g. the CCPA - California Consumer Privacy Act)?
- Where do they store their data?
- Do they encrypt data when they transfer it?
- If applicable, do they delete data after processing it?
Tech providers usually make this information readily available. If they can’t or don’t want to, that’s a red flag.
In case you’ve reviewed their documentation and still aren’t sure, hire a third-party data-protection consultant. They can check your existing and potential new hotel software partners and offer unbiased advice on who to work with.
Payment card industry (PCI) compliance
Payment information is one of the most sensitive data types guests share with you. That’s why you must do everything you can to protect it. For that, all payment systems and processes must be PCI-DSS-compliant. Again, tech providers usually advertise this, but ask them about it just to be sure.
If your country or region has additional local regulations, ensure these are followed as well. Lastly, verify that your payment systems are capable of processing cards from other countries that may require extra authentication or other security protocols.
Data backup and disaster recovery
Software providers should offer backups for their solutions, especially if their systems are cloud-based. Don’t rely entirely on them though. Keep your own backup of critical hotel data as well. You have various options for that, including storage on-site, in the cloud or a combination of both.
Check with your IT team to determine what’s best for your business. Maybe they can handle the data back-up internally or they’ll recommend working with an outside partner. Either way, it’s an important aspect to implement and keep your eye on.
Training and awareness for staff regarding data protection
Many data breaches happen because of a team member’s mistake. For example, they might click a link in a scam message or share proprietary information after being prompted by a phishing email.
Avoid this easily by creating awareness of online scams and hosting regular training sessions on the topic. This ensures all employees know the risks and the various ways cybercriminals try to access data. Lastly, encourage your team to report any suspicious messages or occurrences, so your IT team can check them.
Future Trends and Innovations
Technology keeps developing and offering us new, more powerful capabilities. Here are a few emerging solutions to keep an eye on.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning applications
ChatGPT is the most famous example of an easily accessible yet powerful AI tool today. While we’ve only scratched the surface of its possible use cases, there are already many hotel tech solutions that leverage the power of AI. For example, business intelligence providers use AI to make large volumes of data more accessible and actionable. And marketers take advantage of it to speed up content creation.
But there are many more areas where hotel software providers will use forms of AI and machine learning to further develop their solutions. Predictive maintenance, pricing and guest communication are just a few of them.
Voice-activated assistants and chatbots
Chatbots have been around for a while and many hotels already use them on their websites or in their guest app. In most cases they respond to simple questions (e.g. when is breakfast?) or forward requests to the appropriate department (e.g. they inform housekeeping about a guest needing extra towels). But with the quick development of AI, these chatbots as well as voice-activated assistants in guest rooms will become more versatile.
Soon, they’ll be able to interact with people in a more human way which will lead to a better experience for your guests. That will let you take stay personalization, upselling and cross-selling via chatbot to a whole new level.
Internet of Things (IoT) in hotel operations
IoT describes devices that are connected to the internet and can be controlled and checked remotely by guests and/or staff. For example, an IoT-enabled ventilation system detects when guests leave the room and switches off automatically to save energy. Travelers can turn it on remotely, so it’s nice and cool when they return. And if there’s an issue, the system automatically notifies the engineering department.
Many other options are currently under development, such as keyless door locks which travelers can unlock via a smart device. These IoT solutions create new opportunities to both manage costs and provide a smoother guest experience. It also makes the hotel stay feel more like home since many people already use the IoT there.
The development of new hospitality software will only keep going and even accelerate. At the same time, guests expect hotels to adopt innovative technologies and create a modern stay experience.
If you want to remain relevant and overcome today’s challenges, using cutting-edge hotel tech is your best bet.
Yes, it takes time and effort to stay on top of the latest trends. But see it as an investment and an opportunity. New technology takes work off your plate and frees up your team for what only humans can do - offer guests genuine hospitality and meaningful interactions.