Six technologies that are transforming the hospitality industry in 2024


We write about hospitality technology quite a bit on this blog, and with good reason. It sometimes seems as if we can't open our web browser without being bombarded with news of the latest technology trends hitting the hotel industry.

In a column for Hotel News Resource, Ryan Haynes of Haynes MarComs accurately summed up the prevailing mood in the hospitality sector when he wrote:

Hoteliers have woken to the essential need to develop their tech stack, not only to compete and provide guest experiences but to alleviate huge staffing challenges.

That last point is an important one. While things have improved since the lowest point of the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospitality industry worldwide is still facing labor shortages. How can technology help hoteliers create a better employee experience?

Hotel workers are often responsible for fulfilling a number of repetitive and time-consuming duties, such as checking in guests, answering common questions and managing reservations. Having these tasks automated can empower staff members to spend more time on higher-level responsibilities, such as providing visitors with excellent customer service and addressing more complex guest issues.

Hoteliers may be reluctant tech adopters

However, Haynes goes on to note that "the reality is only a handful of hoteliers are innovators and early adopters." What's keeping the majority of hotels from jumping on the latest hospitality technology trends?

There are any number of reasons. Some hoteliers are reluctant to invest heavily into tech that is still evolving, such as artificial intelligence.

Others may have already made significant investments in their tech stacks and would prefer to adopt new technology that fits into their existing systems rather than replace those systems entirely.

These are sound approaches, certainly, and they reflect the realities of operating within the hospitality industry today.

Whether you aspire to become one of the innovators or are just looking for a useful new tool to integrate into your tech stack, there is no shortage of emerging hospitality industry technology solutions. Here are just a few to keep an eye out for in 2024.

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1. Customer service chatbots


According to a report released in January by hospitality marketing agency h2c, the majority of hotel chains have adopted high-tech solutions for internal communication, with six in 10 chains using collaboration tools and 57% using housekeeping software.

On the other hand, h2c — which surveyed 84 unique hotel chains representing more than two million rooms worldwide — found that guest communication is lagging, with less than half of chains using
messaging tools like WhatsApp and only 35% using a chatbot on their website.

This is a missed opportunity; hospitality businesses can leverage AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants for various aspects of guest service to boost customer satisfaction and streamline operations. The best part is that chatbots can work 24/7. Here are some ways hotels can use these powerful tools:

Booking assistance and reservation management

Chatbots can provide assistance in the booking process by helping guests find available rooms, rates and promotions. They can also answer questions related to room types, amenities and policies.

Once the guest has made a booking, the chatbot will allow them to modify or cancel reservations. It can also send out confirmations, reminders and updates regarding reservations.

Check-in and check-out services

Allowing guests to check in through the chatbot — which can distribute digital room keys and also assist with the check-out process — can reduce the time hotel guests must spend at the front desk.

Concierge services and customer support

For hospitality businesses, the ongoing challenge is to deliver a guest experience tailored to ⁠individual travelers’ needs — and this is where digital concierge services come in.

Not only can these virtual assistants offer recommendations for local attractions and activities, they can also schedule spa appointments and manage restaurant bookings; handle common guest queries and issues, such as Wi-Fi access, parking information and facility hours; and assist with lost-and-found inquiries.

Room service orders and special requests

Guests can place orders for room service through a chatbot, which can provide menus and facilitate payment processes.

Chatbots also enable guests to make special requests, such as additional pillows or room preferences, and they can provide information on hotel events and special promotions.

Feedback and surveys

A chatbot can collect opinions from guests about their stay by sending follow-up messages to request feedback. Insights gathered through post-stay surveys can help hoteliers improve services. Bots can also prompt guests to leave online reviews and offer incentives for future stays.

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2. AI-supported pricing algorithms

As we noted in a previous blog post about how artificial intelligence is transforming the hotel industry, AI can help optimize pricing strategies by analyzing market trends, competitor pricing and customer behavior. Machine learning algorithms can sift through vast amounts of data to recognize patterns and make real-time pricing recommendations.

For example, one strategy that many hotels employ is dynamic pricing. Sometimes called "time-based pricing", this approach uses algorithms to set rates for hotel rooms, based on supply and demand on specific dates — and these prices are adjusted in real time. 

If a trade show or other major event results in a surge in hotel bookings nearby, for example, the software can automatically adjust prices to align with that rising demand.

This can save hotel managers a massive amount of work, because it means they need not continually monitor market activities to determine the best competitive pricing for any given date. The algorithm accounts for factors such as seasonality, competitor pricing, current occupancy for those dates and consumer demand, and the system then sets the optimal rate to maximize profit.

3. Mobile technology


The adoption of mobile technology in the hotel industry is not just about keeping up with trends; it's a strategic move to enhance guest experiences and streamline operations, which can have a positive impact on a hotel's financial metrics.

Mobile apps enable guests to check-in and check-out digitally, access room keys on their smartphones and even control smart hotel room settings such as lighting and temperature.

More and more hoteliers are discovering the ways that PressReader can elevate the guest experience via mobile technology by enabling users to browse content from more than 7,000 of the world’s best newspapers and magazines from over 120 countries in dozens of languages.  

PressReader users are able to access this unmatched catalog of global publications on any device — including their own phone, tablet or laptop — and those who like to take their news on the go can download their chosen publications and enjoy them even without an internet connection.

4. Data-driven customer insights

In today's hospitality industry, data is power.

One great insight that we keep coming back to is that, as Deloitte notes, “The principle of knowing guests is and has always been at the core of understanding and delivering an exceptional hotel guest experience.”

How well a hotel knows its guests depends on how effectively it can analyze and use the information it collects — which, with today’s technology, is quite well.

The same h2c study we cited above also tells us that one of the most prevalent trends in the hospitality industry is that guest data is becoming more and more accessible "through a growing base of loyal customers who are either enrolled in loyalty or instant gratification membership programs".

This customer data is the fuel that powers customer relationship management (CRM) systems. According to h2c:

While CRM systems were used by only 54% of respondents in h2c's Global Hospitality Distribution Study in 2022, the share has grown to 76%, making it an essential tool for customer success.

Mapping the entire guest journey

Of course, valuable data doesn't just come from loyalty programs. From online booking to post-stay satisfaction surveys, hospitality companies have numerous opportunities to gather demographic, behavioral and past-purchase information about hotel guests, along with details of their stated and inferred preferences.

Beyond data collected by electronic means, hotels can get a more complete picture by mapping the entire guest journey, which Hotel Technology News managing editor Jeff Zaban defines as “the record of every interaction and transaction, both digital and in-person, that a guest is likely to have with the hotel throughout the course of their stay”.

5. Robots

Robot-holding-service-bell-on-a -plate-png

A generation ago, many of today's hospitality tech trends were the stuff of science fiction. In 2024, though, artificial intelligence and virtual reality have become commonplace, along with other "futuristic" features including smart rooms and mobile check-in.

While we might not be living in the world of The Jetsons quite yet, we are in an era in which robots of various kinds are being employed to fulfill a number of functions in the hospitality industry. There is still a certain wow factor at play, but robots are no mere novelty; they have practical applications in the hospitality business.

We saw this for ourselves last June when a team from PressReader attended the Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference (or HITEC) in Toronto.

In our report from HITEC, we told you about how the South Korean company Robotis wowed conference attendees with Gaemi, an indoor robot with advanced mapping and route-planning capabilities; and about Piaggio Fast Forward's Gita robots, which have built-in sensors and use radar to follow the user around and carry their cargo.

In 2024, robots continue to impress trade-show attendees looking for the latest hospitality technology trends. At the CES 2024 tech trade show in Las Vegas, for example, coffee lovers lined up at Richtech Robotics' booth to get a personalized beverage served by a robot barista called Adam.

And according to Korea Bizwire, visitors to Hotel Fair 2024 in Seoul showed significant interest in a mobile mini-bar robot from Roboteez, "capable of navigating hotel corridors, using elevators, and even knocking on room doors". 

6. Integrated payment solutions


According to the h2c survey we have already cited, hotel chains rate fully integrated payments as very important, with a score of 8.8 out of 10. The industry is a long way from hitting the mark as far as automated payment processing is concerned, as h2c reports that "only 34% of hotel chains have a fully integrated payment solution, while 59% have a payment gateway and 7% process payments manually, which will soon be a relic of the past."

This is yet another case in which hospitality companies are compelled to evolve in order to meet changing consumer expectations. Cloudbeds cites a survey from the National Retail Federation that found that 97% of shoppers have backed out of a purchase because it was inconvenient to them, adding "For hotel guests, convenience includes being able to easily pay online or in-person with their preferred method of payment — and not having to wait while a front desk agent types in card details or counts cash."

The bottom line

In addition to streamlining their operations and creating a better employee experience, hotels that embrace and leverage the latest hospitality technology gain a competitive edge in the market. Guests are more likely to choose a hotel that offers modern and convenient mobile services over those that do not. It's a way for hotels to differentiate themselves and meet the evolving expectations of tech-savvy travelers.

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