Embracing modern tech paradigms is no longer optional — it's a must for every company in every sector. In the hospitality industry, the adoption of new technology is no longer a matter of if, it's a question of when.
In large part industry experts say, this is due to changing expectations on the part of travelers. According to a 2022 Customer Engagement study from Hospitality Technology magazine, 76% of survey respondents reported that they would be willing to pay a premium (in the form of a slightly higher room rate) for technology features that are important to them.
Embracing the cutting edge
Today, forward-thinking hotel owners and managers have started embracing cutting-edge hospitality technology with open arms. From data analytics to machine learning to automation, hotels and hospitality leaders are witnessing a technological revolution. This will likely continue in 2024 and beyond. The world of hotel technology is incredibly dynamic; it seems like a new technology is emerging every other week.
Let's cut through the noise and zero in on the key trends, identifying the cutting-edge solutions that should be in your hotel tech stack (budget permitting, of course) in 2024.
1. Modular software
Any discussion of digital transformation or the adoption of newer technologies invariably involves the usage of the cloud. However, cloud technologies come second.
The first thing that a hotel must do is to make the software it uses modular. Although monolithic software can be lifted and shifted to the cloud, it can be extremely difficult to manage.
To become cloud-ready, hospitality businesses need to go modular. This is where refactoring comes in. For a succinct definition, we turn to TechTarget:
Refactoring is the process of restructuring code, while not changing its original functionality. The goal of refactoring is to improve internal code by making many small changes without altering the code's external behavior.
In 2024, hotels must invest in software refactoring to break their monolithic software into microservices.
Once that is done, hotels can containerize these microservices with the help of tools like Docker. Containerization of microservices empowers hotels to be cloud-ready. They can shift these Docker containers holding individual parts of the software to the cloud in a fairly easy way.
The hotel can then scale its microservice-based software anytime it wants. What’s more, thanks to the isolated nature of Docker containers, keeping the hotel's operations and information-technology infrastructure secure becomes quite easy.
2. Enterprise resource planning
To this day, thousands of hotels worldwide use separate management software to manage individual processes. For example, they might employ a dedicated property management system while having a separate system to communicate with customers. And then there's the aspect of time management.
Let 2024 be the year when you leave all of these disjointed systems behind and implement cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) that can manage the processes of the property in a 360-degree manner.
ERPs like SAP S/4 HANA or Microsoft Dynamics 365 can seamlessly manage communication, property management, sales and marketing, HR and more. Since one ERP has the power to replace all your outdated systems, it enables truly connected process management.
3. A digital newsstand
It’s the intellect that separates humans from other animals, our hunger for art, science and everything in between. It has long been a standard practice in the hospitality industry to serve guests the morning newspaper along with their breakfast. However, this tradition is undergoing a significant shift, as hotel managers increasingly grapple with the financial and logistical complexities of providing this amenity to their guests. There are two main factors to consider:
The reading habits of hotel guests appear to be shifting, with a noticeable trend of many guests preferring to access content on their personal devices.
It can be an overwhelming amount of work to cater to the varied tastes of guests by supplying them with the broadest possible range of newspapers and magazines. Moreover, the financial implications, especially under current economic pressures, add another layer of complexity for hotel managers
Digital newsstands like PressReader — which features thousands of top publications from around the world — are a win-win for both guests and hotels. Guests get a wide array of newspapers and magazines to choose from, while hotel staff members are spared the logistical challenges of procuring and distributing hard copies of the periodicals those guests want to read.
4. Big data processing
Hotels worldwide are now generating unprecedented amounts of data. Managing this data is next to impossible if hotels stick to traditional database management paradigms and spreadsheets.
If you own or manage a medium to large chain, chances are you, too, are drowning in big data. On one hand, there is the customer data, which can provide valuable insights into guest preferences, which can allow restaurants and hotels to offer a more personalized guest experience. On the other hand, there is the data generated by the operations of the property, along with static data such as the number of rooms, et cetera.
Terabytes of data
Thanks to the surge in demand after the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism business has picked up, resulting in a surge of activities. These activities in turn result in the generation of terabytes of data.
This is more than traditional databases can handle. Here are some of the solutions that hotels dealing with big data should consider adding to their tech stacks in 2024:
Apache Hadoop, to store and process big data
Apache Spark, for real-time data analysis
Python and R programming languages
5. A multichannel booking system
Gone are the days of hotels relying only on direct bookings through a dedicated website or over the phone. Today, hotels get booking orders from various third-party booking channels.
Because receiving booking orders from multiple disjointed systems will invariably lead to human error and loss of productivity, a hotel must build a single booking system that can accommodate all the various channels.
Hotel chains can leverage ERP systems to enjoy the advantage of this multichannel booking paradigm.
We have made the case previously that automation can create a better hotel employee experience. Most forward-thinking hospitality companies already employ some form of automation technology.
In 2024, to help employees focus on what truly matters — creating a memorable guest experience — hospitality brands should be looking to incorporate more such tech solutions.
There are many types of automation that can be implemented with little fuss and by spending relatively less money:
Kiosks for automated check-in/check-out process
Robotic luggage handlers that require no human effort
Automated communication systems
These solutions can dramatically free up the time of employees, enabling them to do what matters most in a more focused way.
7. Automated information flow
When hotels use systems like ERP, the data remains within the ERP system. This centralized system works as the single source of truth. Hence, hospitality professionals in every department (with authorization) have access to the updated data.
This way, people in the marketing department don’t need to consult with the sales department to know about the latest trends in booking prices. This automated flow of information saves a lot of time by cutting back and forth between departments.
8. Smart IoT systems
Mind you, automation can be most successful when smart hotels implement Internet of Things (IoT) devices that empower guests to interact with them seamlessly through mobile apps.
For example, to build an application that would enable guests to control the lights and thermostats in their smart room, the property would need a robust IoT mechanism to connect smart lights and smart thermostats with the hotel app using the local network.
Hotels need to adopt several elements to build such an IoT tech stack:
IoT-enabled utilities like smart lights, smart thermostats, et cetera
An IoT gateway that acts as a conduit between smart utilities and cloud-based control centers
An embedded operating system to control and manage IoT devices
Communication technology like Bluetooth or ZigBe.
Sensors to help IoT devices capture information
9. Sustainable technology
As Hotel Tech Report noted in a recent blog post, hotels and resorts that incorporate smart technology are also responding to the ever-increasing demand for sustainable initiatives in the hospitality industry:
IoT technology can track energy consumption and identify areas for improvement, leading to reduced environmental impact. Hotels can minimize waste by utilizing contactless technologies, such as digital room keys and mobile payment systems, which not only enhance convenience for guests but also reduce the need for physical materials.
10. A smart HR management system
The secret to making guests happy is to keep employees happy. Despite all the technological innovation that a hotel can implement, the so-called Human Stack remains the most important resource. The knowledge and dedication of human beings is indispensable when it comes to ensuring the best possible guest experience.
Hospitality employers need to do away with traditional HR systems and adopt smart HR software that can really identify and reward the value being provided by employees.
An example of a smart human resource management system is SAP SuccessFactors. It helps employees navigate the hospitality industry with confidence. The system empowers workers to stay on top of all the information they need in order to work efficiently. Moreover, such systems have the ability to reward employees tailored to their individual needs.
The shifting hospitality technology landscape
With a bit of forward-looking planning (combined with smart revenue management), your hotel business can embrace digital transformation to maintain a competitive edge without sacrificing what really matters: creating an amazing guest experience.