Technology doesn’t look like it’ll be losing any momentum as an industry hot topic anytime soon, as hoteliers across the UK deliberate, assess and judge whether to upgrade to meet consumer demand. We spoke to the experts to get their take on the biggest tech trends predicted to sweep the sector this year and next, to help make the buying process just that little bit easier.
“Mobile point of sale solutions are only just beginning to be more widely adopted”
Says Owen Chen, president & CEO of Posiflex Technology, Inc
“Although electronic point of sale (EPOS) systems are already extensively used throughout hotels, mobile point of sale (mPOS) solutions are only just beginning to be more widely adopted, despite being available for the last few years.”
“It is predicted that the ‘millennial generation’ (those between 20-35 years of age) will replace the ‘baby boomers’ as the dominant consumer group by 2017. As these millennial consumers in the wider society increasingly use mobile devices for everyday activities, so hotels are now following suit and mobile POS solutions are emerging as a key tool to increase sales, improve staff productivity and enhance customer relations.”
“Mobile POS solutions have been specially designed to provide caterers and hoteliers with the functionality of a tablet and the power of a stationary POS system. Hybrid solutions – which combine stationary and mobile functionality – offer additional benefits because they can be used independently or can be docked into a station to provide an all-in-one POS.”
“The Internet of Things (IoT) is likely to surpass mobile phones as the greatest category of connected devices by 2018”
Says Peter Torbet, director of innovation for Acentic
“Wearable tech is only now coming into vogue. As well as mobile phones, tablets and laptops, we are now seeing more and more guests connecting wristbands, smartwatches and head-mountable cameras.
“According to a recent Ericsson Mobility Report*, ‘The Internet of Things (IoT) is likely to surpass mobile phones as the greatest category of connected devices by 2018’. This, along with live streaming applications such as Facebook Go Live, Snapchat and Periscope, is starting to shape the way guests are using devices.
“The IoT takeover is likely to stimulate the increase in average monthly data consumption meaning hotels will need to be ready, more than ever, to support an increase in data flow by turning to cloud-based services to support this.
“In-room entertainment will also be a huge focus as guests use TV screens to connect their devices, log into their Netflix account and pay for their bills. Whilst hotels are offering more of a hub for guest communications – empowering them to stay connected to their own world and lifestyle. Hotels need to learn to harness these systems to monetise and cross sell their facilities and offers.
“Virtual reality means guests are able to get an immersive of view of destinations and hotels”
Says Marc Curtis, head of labs for TMW Unlimited
“A holiday will often be the biggest purchase of the year for a family.Virtual reality means they’re able to get an immersive of view of destinations and hotels, giving them that extra piece of mind that wasn’t previously available.
“Thomas Cook is ahead of the game here, integrating in store Samsung Gear VR into its sales process, realising the massive influence of being able to show customers what room/plane seat upgrades might look like after they’ve already purchased their holiday. Taking the experience a step further, Thomas Cook has launched a 360 VR app to showcase key resorts, mailing out a Google Cardboard for use along with its catalogue.
“The next big step here will be for the growing number of consumers equipped with 360 degree cameras (e.g. the Samsung Gear 360 or the Richoh Theta). Since Facebook and YouTube already support 360 video, the social ecosystem is already set to enable user generated 360 content in the same way that we currently share stills of our holidays.
“Machine learning is going to be a vital part of making informed marketing decisions going forward”
Andrew Plant, digital marketing manager at Journey
“Techniques like ‘machine learning’ can help us understand the online habits of guests. Machine learning is a way of using algorithms to help build analytical models. This means computers can ‘learn’ from a vast collection of data. This data can then be mapped and analysed, so we can understand the consumers’ buying patterns.
“This gives us invaluable information to make informed decisions about where to place and purchase digital advertising. As a result, hotels can be visible to travellers at an earlier stage of the purchasing funnel, and make the most out of precious digital advertising budgets.
“When someone starts to portray typical behaviours online, hotels can then use bespoke digital advertising (a customised online advert) and these can be placed on sites that travellers will be most likely to visit.
“Machine learning is going to be a vital part of making informed marketing decisions going forward. It will help build online brand visibility for hotels and help guests become aware of the hotels that are most relevant to them earlier in the process.
“Hotels will use natural language to create an invisible, room-based concierge, driven by social recommendations”
Paul Bishop, managing partner at Splendid Unlimited
“The future is ultra-personalised experiences based on AI bot tech. Hotels will use natural language to create an invisible, room-based concierge, which is driven by social recommendations from food through to experiences (possibly extending to dating – but that could be a long shot!). We’ve delivered social location relevant recommendations for a leading UK airline and are currently working with an AI partner to deliver this into an exclusive London hotel.
“This experience needs to be relevant to the particular hotel and its personality. Dormy House in the Cotswolds has an in-room iPad system which, as well as allowing the visitor to order a turn-down or check-out, has local touches such as ‘order milk’.
“A service design approach will enable common services provided by common providers across multiple locations (which will be a reality of scale across hotel chains), but also allow unique customer experiences to be developed on top of this.
“Taking this a stage further, there’s opportunity to supplementing the in-room iPad option with a native mobile app that might create more ‘sticky’ experiences, extending beyond the bedroom. This would make the concierge available outside the hotel, available to handle car bookings and reservations recommended by the hotel.