By Hasnain Noorani
Each new technological innovation is making the world we live in increasingly smaller and smaller. It has indeed revolutionized the way we plan our vacations.
b There can only be a few areas that have been transformed by technology quite the same way as travel. In the last two decades, we have seen technology impacting the travel industry more than it has in the former 40 years. No one can imagine travelling without access to Google Maps for instance. Technology made it much more affordable and comfortable, can access virtually anything at our fingertips.
Catalyzed by the gigantic power of the internet of things, customer expectations are growing. This is true within every industry and in none more so than the hospitality industry. A sector where clients’ expectations for a fantastic experience run particularly high, technology may just provide the means for overcoming this challenge.
Technology for consumers means an easy life and our appetite for this lifestyle is insatiable. With every new app or connected device, we shift the goal posts for the-art-of-the-possible and, in turn, we raise customer expectations.
Rapid advancement in technology is twisting the way in which the hospitality industry conducts its business. Some of the trends in industry are leading to great improvements and savings for the industry while some are changing how hotel owners plan their facilities, management structure and staffing requirements.
The way we communicate and find information has rapidly changed. In earlier days, traditional media was used as the only platform to reach an audience. Technology has the power to target consumers on an individual scale and process requests in very little time. As a result, it has been reshaping the marketing and customer experience landscape in which hotels operate.
Improvement in technology has opened customers to a much wider range of options when it comes to finding accommodation, and thus have significantly increased competition within the hotel industry.
Comparison sites, such as JumiaTravel.com, are allowing consumers to quickly find the best accommodation to suit their needs – whether that means it’s more affordable, in an ideal location, or has certain amenities.
The inclusion of independent reviews on comparison websites such as Trip Advisor allows users globally to book with greater confidence, according to research by Deloitte and Facebook. A massive 76 per cent of travellers refer to these reviews to gain better insights into the state of different hotels.
In order to be considered relevant by consumers, hotels need to develop an active online presence. This involves having a digital marketing department that aggressively markets online on the different social media platforms.
Digital disruption is creating a more competitive market for those offering accommodation. So how can technology be used to improve customer experience in hotels to help them compete with the rise of home sharing?
Local hotel chains like PrideInn Hotels are opting to start the development of a technological solution for their own venues and hotels. This will be an app that is to be integrated with their hotel systems, and allows guests to book accommodation, check in / check out, order room service, communicate with fellow guests or even the hotel staff. The integration of smart technology with hotel rooms and services offers guests a more interactive and luxurious experience as they enjoy their stay.
The writer is the Managing Director and Founder of PrideInn Group of Hotels