I find it fascinating that 20 years ago, this kind of blog could never have been written. As recently as 10 years ago, the scope of possibilities for business, the customer experience—practically everything that competitively differentiates organizations in today’s digital era—was narrower than ever, if not nonexistent. Looking back, it’s clear that the world has sped up in a very short amount of time.
In 2007, for instance, only 100,000 businesses were using Facebook for marketing—a number that is now over 50 million. In 2016, over 700,000 people were logging onto Facebook per minute; meanwhile, in 2006, the platform had only just been made available to the general public. This time 10 years ago, the very first iPhone hadn’t even hit the U.S. market, let alone technologies like Web chat and mobile apps.
If the pace of innovation has accelerated this significantly in just 10 years, imagine how it will increase in the next 10, 15, or 20. More importantly, we need to consider how this rapid pace will impact businesses across every sector. As someone with over 30 years’ experience in hospitality, I’ve seen the industry endure its fair share of transformation; however, I believe this new era of digital transformation will be most defining of all.
We now live in a world where consumers visit an average 38 websites before booking a reservation. Where one-third of people use their smartphone more when they travel than they do at home. Where 35 percent of Americans believe outer space travel will become a reality within the next 15 years. Next-generation hospitality is here, and it’s only beginning. Here are three things hospitality leaders should know about the hotel of the future…
1. You Don’t Always Need to Rip and Replace: In fact, you may never need to. While technology has advanced—setting the pace for hospitality today—that doesn’t necessarily mean hoteliers must completely replace their existing systems. There’s plenty of opportunity to integrate new and existing technology to maximize ROI and avoid unnecessary costs. At the end of the day, all that matters is that hospitality leaders are keeping a finger on the pulse of guests’ evolving expectations and demands; however they choose to do that is up to them.
2. The Basics Will Always Matter Most: We may be living in a world of innovative new technologies, but the fact remains that the basics will always matter most to customers. In fact, research shows that bed, bathroom and general location are still the most mentioned factors when customers rate their overall guest experience. I believe it will be some time before customers are mentioning such things as “mobile app interfaces” or “automated concierges,” let alone consider them to be more important than the bed they’re sleeping in. The hotel of the future may be built on new technologies, but these solutions must be implemented in favor of the guest—not just for the sake of appearing cutting-edge.
3. Consider your Associates: This same approach goes for every team member under your leadership. There are plenty of communication and collaboration tools now available to help staff, but technology simply can’t replace tried and true management techniques like MBWA, for example. Technology can’t eliminate the physical presence of a leader or replicate the effects of in-person mentorship. At the same time, ensure your staff has some sort of ownership in the direction of your digital transformation. Ask for their input, or seek suggestions for how new technology can best benefit them. Remember what your associates need from you as their manager.
Indeed, much has changed over the last 10 to 20 years. Who knows what this blog will look like 20 years from now? If you’re looking to learn more about elevating hotel best practices, check out this blog (or this one).