Innovation can revolutionize an industry, and hospitality organizations have experienced many waves of new hotel technology. After adapting to key cards, onsite audiovisual equipment, online reservations, event management tools, robots, and much more, hotels are continuing to incorporate cutting-edge technology.
Here are four innovations that are on the horizon or are available but not widely used by hotels.
The Rise of Chat
The “Rose” chatbot at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas shows the evolution of conversational commerce and how customers are engaging hospitality and travel brands. Guests who use Rose spend an average of 30% more money in the hotel, based on her recommendations, which are personalized to the individual user.
The artificial intelligence (AI) engines behind digital assistants today are still in what experts call “the Angry Birds stage,” but they’re already disrupting industries from fashion to hospitality.
“Now, within seconds you can have this virtual VIP host and personality help you have a better time in Las Vegas,” says Mamie Peers, vice president of digital marketing at The Cosmopolitan. “It’s extremely convenient for meeting attendees who are using texts and messaging more to get things done.”
IBM Watson for Hotels
In 2018, IBM launched a new hotel technology called Watson Assistant for Hospitality. It’s designed to bring AI to back-end tech stacks at hotels and hotel brands.
Watson Assistant is enterprise-level AI, unlike the consumer-level Amazon Alexa. Hotels can white-label Watson Assistant to establish their own personality for their brand, so guests aren’t interacting with Watson by name.
Also, brands keep their data. With Watson Assistant, hotels are not sharing first-party data with IBM, which makes it easier to work with other partners. Lastly, hotels have options. They can either integrate Watson Assistant voice functionality into their existing chatbots and apps, or they can build new voice/text-based chat on top of IBM’s platform.
The 3-D Internet
While not exclusively a new hotel technology, augmented reality (AR) has come a long way since Pokémon Go and Google Glass a few years ago. The newest phones are AR-enabled and much better at merging the physical and digital worlds into the “3-D internet.” Therefore, brands are rolling out new AR experiences to leverage these new digital tools, and hotels have a lot of opportunities to follow suit.
For example, Amazon collaborated with Accenture to integrate AR labeling and wayfinding in numerous Whole Foods stores. When customers point their phones at different products, the AR content provides nutritional details. It also shows related recipe options and directs shoppers on where they can find the rest of the recipe ingredients in the store. Need to pair a wine with that dinner? The AR can recommend that, too, based on your personal preferences.
The Rise of 5G
Josh Weiss, Hilton’s vice president of brand and guest technology, is just one hotel executive who can’t wait for 5G mobile technology.
“When you actually look at the kind of speeds that they’re talking about, it’s unbelievable. And it’s definitely going to be a factor” in the industry and new hotel technology, he says. “I think we’d all love to see the day where in any sort of building environment, we can say, ‘Well, that’s it, we’re done providing Wi-Fi because everything is 5G, and our devices are just talking right outside to a tower.’ Eventually, AT&T or Verizon is handling that for me, but I think we’re a ways away from that.
“What it is going to do, though, is continuously drive up guest expectations for the types, range, and quality of content that they can get anywhere. We need to be able to deliver on that. Now, again, whether we’re going to have a 5G signal going right to the TV and eliminate the Wi-Fi or cable, I don’t know. But I really do think that 5G is going to totally change so many aspects of not just mobility, but also how we use our connected devices.”