The New Year is already upon us – and what will it bring, for our industry at least? I thought I may as well lay out my views at least and see if anyone out there agrees.
First of all, Wi-Fi will get better in hotels – if for no other reason than customers will demand it. Those without it will start to lose business. The technology will get better to deliver a better service and customers bringing their own devices with their own programmes will continue to increase.
A friend of mine, who was recently staying in hospital, complained because a football game on Sky brought the hospital Wi-Fi down because so many were watching it on their own devices. He said: “It’s all about the bandwidth and connectivity on property allowing guests with own devices to connect to services that are in ‘the cloud’ and make their experience seamless”. Hotel operators and management will more readily start to realise that Wi-Fi is a utility, just like water and gas.
Secondly, the Internet of things is coming to hotels – or as we in HOSPA like to call it – The Internet of Hotel Things. Wearable technology will be part of this, but more so in 2017. This year the seamless experience with the App and wearable to open doors and have personal experience will increase – assuming the Wi-Fi can handle it. This will start more with the big brands (the Marriott Internationals and Starwood Hotels & Resorts) and new upmarket hotels.
Thirdly, we will see more done with digital payments systems such as Flypay and Apple Pay as they become the norm – more so in retail F&B outlets but hotels will have to get on board quickly.
Fourthly, the USALI (Uniform System) will start to take hold as those early adopters go from planning to implementing and reporting – and the benchmarking reports are changed. The accounting systems with greatest flexibility – which tends to mean ‘in-the-cloud’ – will become more prevalent and take the lead. USALI straight out of the box so-to-speak will become a real advantage. The USALI will start to be updated on a more regular basis in future.
Fifthly, Big Data – and/or Predictive Analytics will become more widely used as hospitality companies begin to understand what they can get out of this area. It is of course where the OTAs have such a big advantage, as they actually use it and respond to customer enquiries and searches – and finally give them what they want. Cloud-based systems with the data already there and accessible will make this more affordable and understandable. “Predictive analytics allows companies to profile customers, and can be used to tailor the online experience to individual customer behaviours”.
And onto six: Marketing – or digital marketing – and technology will become more and more connected or integrated in hospitality – and revenue management will have to either lead or be part of this. A department called something like ‘commercial’ – which exists in some large companies in the US already – will start to emerge with marketing and revenue management combined within it. Sales may still be separate. More digital marketing systems linked to revenue management will become available.
At seven: Learning will become more digital. More digitally native. More bite-size. More video and animation-based. Accounting training – while remaining more traditional as per its professional qualifications will develop this way also. Revenue management will have to become more ‘qualification’ based – so that the industry can assess what a revenue manager has achieved so far. There has to be some kind of way to assess the level of a prospective candidate for a revenue management role after all this is quite a technical job.
Have a great 2016 and do let us know your views and predictions for 2016.