The hospitality industry had to quickly adapt to the changes initiated by the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes also served as a catalyst for some truly amazing technology trends that will change the hotel industry in 2021. While nearly everyone stumbled over making the necessary modifications while trying to stay up-to-date on the fluctuating regulations.
In 2021 and beyond, hotels will have to shift their focus to cleanliness and minimizing contact. Mobile check-ins and check-outs have been around, but now they are a standard that most guests will expect to have as an option. In addition, contactless payment is here to stay. Not only do these changes eliminate touch points with staff, but they can cut down on the time guests have to wait in lines which also cuts down on the number of front-of-house staff needed which can minimize operational costs1.
As for cleanliness, many hotels are foregoing daily housekeeping visits to eliminate contact during COVID. Moving forward, hospitality leaders will need to find a way to maintain cleanliness while still minimizing contact. Enter robots. Certain hotels are adopting a type of robot that is often used in hospitals to maintain a sterile environment. The robots can emit broad-spectrum ultraviolet light to destroy viruses and bacteria2. At some Hilton and Marriott hotels in California, robots are being used to do more than clean as they can deliver customer requests such as extra pillows, towels, and even wine.
Other trends that saw a rise thanks to the pandemic were increased in-room guest services. Some may be temporary, but an unintended consequence of increased technology is that guests have come to expect a personalized experience with access to the latest gadgets. Some hotels have integrated software such as Volara3 which provides voice-based contactless customer engagement controls that connect with Amazon Echo and Google Nest and even connect with added security and the ability to translate foreign languages.
With voice-controlled services and built-in streaming platforms, guests can access entertainment without even having to handle a remote. Initially adopted to decrease touchpoints, these technologies create a convenient, relaxing experience for guests and will continue into 2021 and beyond COVID. Other technologies like chatbots are available 24/7 to answer questions or in-room tablets like Crave Interactive4 that allow guests to book experiences on the fly from their room and also serve as additional advertising space for the hotel. None of these technologies would be possible without the bandwidth to handle the additional internet-based services. Hotels are looking at adopting WiFi6 and preparing for the investment and infrastructure needed to support the faster and more reliable internet5.
Technology Trends That Will Change the Hotel Industry in 2021
Another big factor in creating a personalized guest experience includes the use of artificial intelligence (AI). To help increase efficiency, applications like ModiHost help hotel companies remember guest preferences, which can in turn anticipate their needs during their next stay. Hotels are using data analysis to make everyday operations more efficient and effective. Ultimately, this technology trend, along with AI and cloud computing, in the hospitality industry can assist with making smarter operational decisions, keeping up with the market competition, providing more accurate insight to drive marketing and advertising campaigns, helping to cut costs, and driving revenue. These technology innovations inspired by the pandemic will become the new normal for hotels moving forward.
For hotels hopeful that the new year will bring tourists back through their doors and business travel back on the books, hospitality companies will have to create a safe, clean environment that puts their potential customers at ease and creates a customized guest experience that will keep them coming back.
1 Revfine, Hotel Technology Trends: 14 Upcoming Innovations for 2021
2 USA Today, “If you stay at a hotel during the pandemic, a robot may deliver wine to your door or clean your room,” Oliver, David. July 27, 2020. Hotel wine delivery robots
3 Volara, Volara: engage your guests with voice
4 Crave Interactive, Crave Interactive | Digital Service Hospitality Solutions | Data Intelligence
5 Hotel News Now, HNN – Hoteliers look ahead to prepare for Wi-Fi 6, 5G (hotelnewsnow.com)
6 ModiHost, https://modihost.io/