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As it finally starts to emerge from crisis mode, new predictions from Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, reveal how businesses in the hospitality sector will proactively leverage technology to deliver enhanced total guest experiences across the next decade.
Following a transformative few years, which saw the entire industry adopt critical technology solutions in order to survive, hotels and venues have grown increasingly adept at offering seamless digital-first experiences. As they look ahead, however, this reliance on digital technology poses potential challenges to an industry that is built on human-to-human experiences. Aruba worked with global trends agency Foresight Factory to uncover five ways in which hospitality businesses will adapt to evolving consumer demands to offer the perfect balance between the digital and physical worlds.
1. HOSPITALITY COMPANIES WILL BE SERVING UP PRESENCE-FREE OPTIONS
Building on current contactless trends such as digital check-in and biometric payments, hospitality companies will be able to welcome guests that are not present at their venue at all, using innovative technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and the metaverse to offer presence-free experiences to “visitors” anywhere in the world.
2. THE GUEST EXPERIENCE WILL START WELL BEFORE THEY ARRIVE AND CONTINUE LONG AFTER THEY LEAVE (AKA THE RISE OF ‘PRETAILTAINMENT’)
Forget looking at photos or scanning the menu. In the future, guests will no longer do anything without first trying out the fully interactive, immersive digital option. As the virtual experience becomes a non-negotiable precursor to the real event, companies will begin to offer more creative, elaborate, and personalized “pretailtainment” options. Meanwhile ‘post-stay’ services will also be available, rounding out the total experience.
3. THE GUEST EXPERIENCE WILL HAVE BECOME A COMMUNITY UNDERTAKING
The future will see hospitality companies form fully connected communities of businesses around them, powered by the same network to deliver a total guest experience. By sharing data, venues will be able to provide food and drink recommendations based on what guests have ordered in other locations or recommend local activities and automatically confirm availability. Elsewhere community wayfinding and location services could eliminate inconveniences like wait times, by giving venues the ability to accurately track arrival and offer ‘virtual’ queuing.
4. HOSPITALITY COMPANIES WILL CATER TO HOW GUESTS FEEL, NOT JUST WHAT THEY SAY
The best customer service involves giving customers what they want, before they even know they want it. In the future, automated on-site systems and biometric data will allow hospitality venues to read and react to physical signals from their guests – adjusting music, lighting, and scent to match a mood, or catering to the earliest signs of hunger with the help of predictive AI.
5. DATA HAS BECOME A TWO-WAY STREET, WITH HOSPITALITY COMPANIES EXPECTED TO FEED INSIGHTS BACK TO GUESTS
As guests become both more concerned about making the right choices (with a particular focus on travel), and more empowered to do so with technology, hospitality venues must be ready to share data to help inform their decisions. Additionally, they must be prepared to offer more options that cater to the eco-, health- and ethics-conscious, or risk losing business to more forthcoming and considerate competitors.
“Creating a personalized experience based on data and insights will allow venues to enhance service levels,” said Sanjeev Katwa, Chief Technology Officer, Tottenham Hotspur. “Similarly, AI & predictive modelling will ensure a much more efficient use of the venue, create a sustainable model, and ensure repeat business. Further automation, using next generation technology systems, will assist venues in reading and reacting to guest signals throughout their experience.”
Meeting these expectations requires making sense of collected data quickly and responding accordingly, which is why simply deploying Wi-Fi solutions for connectivity alone is no longer enough.
“Over the course of the next ten years, innovative technology will completely revolutionize the hospitality industry – merging the physical and digital worlds to enhance the customer experience,” said Morten Illum, Vice President, EMEA for Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company. “As the journey expends, guests will expect the same level of well-designed, personalized, and engaging interactions – no matter when, where or how they choose to engage. Meeting these demands requires making sense of collected data quickly and responding accordingly, which is why simply deploying Wi-Fi solutions for connectivity alone is no longer enough.
“To find the right recipe for success, hospitality companies must ensure that they are set up with a high-performing, secure, reliable and automated network that can facilitate both current and coming digital innovations, and deliver total guest experiences that continue to surprise and delight – whatever the future brings.”