76%. That’s how many people booked their holiday online last year. Digital, and mobile in particular, has already revolutionised the industry.
But, what most may not expect to see is that almost half of UK travellers are now crying out for interactive tech like virtual reality (VR) hotel tours, digital assistants and interactive augmented reality (AR) experiences.
Our recent travel report found that 48% would like to use AR and VR tools to view resorts and destinations in advance of booking, and whilst they’re on holiday.
Over a fifth (21%) wanted to see a greater use of artificial intelligence (AI) to streamline services, such as the use of chat bots on hotel websites to better personalise their experience.
So, what can the hotel industry do to satisfy this public appetite for new technology?
Building on current technology
Let’s set the record straight. Some hotels are already investing in technology to improve customer service and experience. And they’re doing it well. But not all hotels are keeping up.
Automated check-in kiosks are now a regular feature helping to reduce queuing, as are the use of wearables to navigate around hotel complex’s – useful replacements to easily lost key-cards, and provide greater flexibility controlling access to specific areas of the hotel: VIP lounges, gym, pool, spa.
Mobile apps can build on this existing technology.
Using AI chatbots, guests can quickly and easily get answers to FAQs in their own language, without having to call staff members. Preferences for each guest can be stored to send push notifications about hotel entertainment and events, as well as store all documentation relevant to their stay.
Our research confirms that guests love information being in one place, so why not allow them to book other elements of their stay through an app? From excursions and sporting activities, to restaurant tables and spa treatments, booking hotel services in just a few taps removes guest frustrations, cuts out lengthy phone conversations with different departments, and ultimately enhances the guest experience.
As hardware and Internet of Things (IoT) technology continues to advance, apps will allow guests to control all elements of their room – temperature, TVs, lighting, and so on – and even request room service, informing the kitchen of allergies and dietary requests through the mobile app.
The hotel of the “future”?
If all this is possible now, what does a hotel room of the future look like? In a word, customised. VR will allow holidaymakers to see a hotel’s popular tours and main facilities, such as their differing room types and communal areas, prior to booking.
Bedrooms will then become digital spaces where the decoration is agreed in advance, and hyper-localisation technology will help to personalise the experience once they arrive.
Bartenders can prepare drinks as people make their way to the lounge areas, and on approaching various check-points, geo-fenced messaging will send notifications to guests concerning offers, discounts and loyalty bonuses for events taking place in that location.
Guests frequently have trouble navigating around new areas, and even the resorts themselves – 29% in our study said they found it hard to find out how far away attractions were from their hotel. In future though, hotels will have this problem covered via their app, which can provide AR directional overlays to guide guests to their desired locations.
And the best part? None of this technology is out of reach – with the release of the ARKit for Apple devices and the ARCore Android equivalent, people are able to build this technology right now. The question is, how far away is this “future” for you?
Nick Black, CEO of Apadmi