As recently as the mid-1990’s, to book a hotel room, you could only do it in person or by making a phone call. Fortunately for time-pressed customers, this has changed significantly for the better. Technology has played a huge part in not only making bookings easier for travelers, but hotel and restaurant owners have benefitted too.
Admin costs and the ability to handle multiple booking have been greatly improved, but how? The internet’s growth, as is the case with many other industries, has spurred hospitality companies large and small. Ecommerce in particular has enabled people to book a room, suite or table without waiting for minutes in a queue, physical or by phone.
Desktop to Smartphone
One of the biggest technological advances to benefit the hospitality sector is the move towards mobile tech. Now more than ever, customers in urgent need of somewhere to spend the night after a meeting or family gathering want to book somewhere quickly and securely. Some of the biggest names in the industry have cottoned on to that.
Restaurants of all sizes have been able to take advantage of the growing demand for food ordering apps. UK-based delivery brand Deliveroo have, through links with restaurants, been able to generate revenue of around £130m ($167m) in the year up to March 2016.
Taking orders through their website and app from customers, restaurants are able to add their menus and receive orders through Deliveroo without having to do much work. For restaurant owners the world over, apps like that and UberEats have changed the face of delivery, providing a new source of revenue for some.
Under Lock and Key
Aside from the ordering aspect of hospitality, technology inside hotel rooms has made great strides. Major hotel chains have massively improved the security of their properties by eschewing traditional, metal keys in favour of key cards. Aside from unlocking rooms, they can also be used to switch lights and heating on.
Using tech that sends data about when someone enters or leaves a room, it allows hotel admin staff to know when rooms are most likely to be occupied and whether anyone is staying longer than necessary. With the data the key cards collect, companies can then determine when their properties are at their fullest, then pricing their rooms accordingly.
Speaking of security, WiFi connectivity is encrypted as standard. For anyone on a business trip, keeping their emails and documents safe from prying eyes is a must. In citizenM hotels, WiFi comes free of charge and is safe to use. Superfast connectivity allows for such tasks as video conference calls, instant messaging and, for downtime, video streaming.
Hospitality businesses have used technology to spruce up the look of rooms throughout their rooms. Gone are the days of the filament lightbulb and opaque curtains, with panoramic windows, mood lighting and glass partitioning becoming the norm. Recognising the need for visitors to enjoy their surroundings, design and tech have become a major focus for some firms.
Decor isn’t the only aspect of a hotel room that has undergone transformation. The TV, a staple of hotel rooms and business lounges, has become more than that, taking on features that smart TV sets have. Earlier this year, Samsung announced that they were to release special sets allowing occupiers to do more than just watch their favourite show after a night out.
Lynk HMS lets anyone using the TV to control lighting systems, curtains, room temperature and even energy use. If this system is successful, expect hotels worldwide to start using it. Saving time, money and effort, it all adds to a positive customer experience.
What does the future hold for tech in the hospitality industry? Expect further developments around data, energy-saving devices and apps – basically, any improvements on already-successful innovations.