Due to the hospitality industry’s reliance on human interaction and connection, many hotels have been slower in embracing new technology compared to businesses outside the hospitality industry. However, hospitality’s general reluctance to tech is starting to change for the better as emerging technologies begin to get a foothold in the industry.
According to 78% of the global hotel tech leaders, hotel technology will have the greatest impact on the survival and growth of hotels in the next five years. As a testament to this statistic, small and big hoteliers alike are already using hotel technology to improve the people-to-people experiences they offer while managing many aspects of their businesses, from customer service to revenue management, marketing and even property management.
Small hotels, in particular, stand to gain immensely from investing in hotel technology. After all, does it not make sense for a small hotel with limited human and financial resources to gain whatever edge possible to foster better relationships with its customers without hurting its bottom line?
But with all the options available in the market currently and new tech trends emerging all the time, it might be a bit challenging to draw a line between the essential hotel technology and temporary fads. To make your life easier, here are five important tech features you should consider including in your small hotel.
Room Service Apps
Room service apps epitomize the saying “out with the old, in with the new.” Long gone are the days customers had to bear awkward phone calls and bulky menus when placing orders from their rooms. Nowadays, hotels can offer cross-platform, web-based room service apps for their guests. To take room service apps a notch higher, you can place QR codes at convenient locations in all your rooms for guests to check up-to-date menus, place orders, and track deliveries all from their smartphones, tablets or laptops.
The hotel industry was among the worst affected in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing travel bans. But as economies worldwide gradually recover from the pandemic’s effects, many businesses – hotels included – are expected to make a steady comeback to pre-pandemic states.
That said, some public health practices picked up during the pandemic, such as social distancing, are here to stay. In a bid to minimize front desk interactions, and the possible spread of the COVID-19 virus, hotel tech leaders such as WCITV.com are now advocating for mobile check-in services. And the timing could not be more impeccable; given the meteoric rise of smartphone-dependent travelers amidst a global pandemic, revolutionizing hotel reservation software through mobile booking services seems like a step in the right direction.
Mobile check-in services eliminate the need for physical contact between hotel employees and guests while providing important hotel information to the guests, such as prices, amenities offered, special promotions and packages. More importantly, however, mobile check-in services hasten the guests’ arrival process, allowing them to settle in their rooms faster.
One way you can implement mobile check-in services in your hotel is via digital registration cards. Using these virtual cards, your guests can fill out all the needed information on their devices before checking into your hotel and have all their queries addressed beforehand.
Internet access has become such a basic need that hotels not only need to provide Wi-Fi for their guests to remain competitive but also strive to increase their internet connection’s bandwidth. Recent studies reveal that business and personal travelers cited “free Wi-Fi” as the most crucial factor in choosing a hotel, outweighing other essential perks like free breakfast by a considerable margin.
Alongside faulty electronics, issues with staff and unexpected fees, slow/no free Wi-Fi ranks high among the list of common custom complaints. Skimping on guest Wi-Fi is simply asking for bad ratings on popular review sites and turning away many potential guests who look to such sites for guidance.
Fortunately, you can improve your hotel’s Wi-Fi through simple steps such as:
- Moving the routers as close to the guests’ rooms as possible
- Hanging the routers from ceilings
- Creating dedicated Wi-Fi networks for your guests
- Upgrading your hotel’s Internet package or switching to a better Internet service provider
If your hotel’s Wi-Fi speeds do not improve after these steps, consider performing a Wi-Fi infrastructure overhaul, i.e., invest in better routers and modem networks.
Smart Energy Management
The average energy bill per room for most hotels comes close to $2200. High energy expenses, in addition to heightened environmental awareness, have encouraged hotels to invest in sustainability-focused technology.
In the case of small hotels, switching to efficient lighting and investing in water-saving tools can make tremendous changes in their running expenses. For instance, since lighting makes up 25-40% of the average hotel’s energy expenses, opting for LED lights – which consume at least 75% less energy, emit brighter light and last up to 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs – can reduce energy expenses by at least 18%.
Switching to LED lights, energy-efficient appliances and low-flow water faucets might require a hefty upfront investment, but the potential long-term savings are too big to ignore. Besides, smart energy management solutions allow your business to cut back on everyday costs without compromising your guests’ experience, all while contributing to a worthy cause (sustainability).
Thanks in part to the global pandemic, the push for contactless payment in the hospitality industry has received a massive boost. As suggested by the name, contactless payment is a transaction model that facilitates payments without the need for cash or other physical equivalents, e.g., credit cards.
While contactless payment has been around for a while, the sudden concern for hygiene has made it a necessity, especially in industries that thrive on human interaction. That said, some of the benefits you stand to gain from adopting contactless payment include:
- Enhanced workplace hygiene
- Improved transaction speed and security due to wireless technology and encryption
- Superior end-user experience
- The ability to provide custom loyalty programs
Technology is changing how businesses deliver services to their customers, and hotels are no exception. Implementing the five technologies mentioned while staying on top of tech trends can improve your service delivery, give your hotel a competitive edge and save your business a lot of money in the long run.