Here are some of the new digital expectations of travelers, and how the industry can step up to the plate

Dirk Dumortier, Director, Vertical Partnerships (APAC), Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise

Ensuring digital hospitality with technology

The hospitality industry has always been based on human connection. In the digital era, we can both elevate and amplify that connection with seamless digital-age networks and technology. By embracing this reality, hotels unlock a future where comfort, convenience, and innovation go hand in hand. For example

    • Sustainability matters: Environmentally-conscious travelers are increasingly seeking out hotels that make efforts to minimize their ecological footprint. Technology can play a crucial, if behind-the-scenes role here. IoT-enabled devices like smart thermostats and lighting lets guests easily adjust the room environment to suit their preferences, which may also be something that can be learned over time, and automatically replicated when the guests return for a future stay.
    • Cloud-based management systems reduce the need for on-premises hardware, while cloud services providers can typically be relied on to run their systems as efficiently as possible, reducing the hotel’s overall carbon footprint and saving on energy costs.

      When Canberra’s Little National Hotel needed to streamline its employee communication and operations and also modernize the room and guest experience, the management consolidated printed collaterals onto a smart tablet. With the tablet, guests can order additional amenities, room service, and make reservations. The tablet also integrated with the hotel property management system and provides telephony capability for guests to easily communicate with staff.

    • Automation can streamline operations: With staffing an ongoing challenge in the Asia Pacific region, embracing automation to not just maximize staffing resources but also provide staff with the right tools to help make their jobs easier, will go a long way towards improving the guest experience. This can include contactless mobile check-in capabilities, and the ability to offer users the option to choose digital room keys so they can skip spending time at the check-in counter — as well as online ordering systems for hotel amenities and room service.
    • Collaboration tools can also be deployed to enable more seamless integration between hotel sub-groups such as the food and beverage team, and housekeeping, to accommodate guests’ special requests more efficiently.

      Mobile apps have a key role here as well, whether for booking rooms, making restaurant reservations, or even to control room lighting and temperature. For restaurants, having excellent Wi-Fi and an app or QR code system on hand can let guests order and pay their bills when ready, letting the restaurant staff focus more on anticipating guests’ needs, offering personalized recommendations, and ensuring that the meal is a memorable one.

    • Elevating the guest experience: Technology like AI can elevate personalization, whether offering personalized room settings for regular hotel guests, or analyzing past stays to generate customized recommendations for what to see and do that align with the travelers’ preferences.
    • For example, on a rainy day, a guest could be offered a suggested itinerary for indoor experiences such as nearby art museums. AI chatbots can be deployed to provide 24/7 customer service and support, not just for answering frequently asked questions or fulfilling requests for in-room amenities, but also in providing recommendations for guests, or even assisting in making reservations.

      Enhancing the guest experience can maybe boil down to something as simple as the quality of the free Wi-Fi connection — ensuring that is resilient, reliable, and secure.