In the twenty-first century, the hospitality industry has gone through a substantial transformation with innovative technological solutions. With the rise of awareness of the environmental impact of any industry worldwide, over the past five years, the technology has mainly been used to reduce costs, increase efficiency and of course enhance sustainability.
The array of modern technologies that are currently used allowing hospitality businesses to comply with the new standards allowing them to operate and regain the trust of the returning customers varies from Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Internet of Things (IoT) to Visual Recognition to Robotics to BlockChain and Virtual Reality (VR). The most efficient and modern solutions will mix two or more of these technologies in order to provide innovative service.
One of the latest technologies gaining ground in the hospitality sector is the visual recognition, a technology solution that has already been used in proptech for keyless entry in buildings and more widely by such companies like Apple for their smartphone unlocking features. This solution has already demonstrated its amazing ability to track the use of face masks and now will allow businesses to offer cashless payments, track users’ movements in buildings and supervise the distance between users.
Another technology that is becoming increasingly used in the hospitality industry is robotics which combined with other technologies such as AI or IoT is a great tool which can not only provide personalised service to customers when necessary but also helps to minimise contact with staff for reasons of social distancing. An example would be providing a self-check-in, applying regular customer preferences such as an automatically served cup of tea on arrival or robots like “Connie”, the robot used by Hilton Hotels, the first AI-based robot to be used in a hospitality setting. Connie for when there is no-one at the front desk allows for the hotel guests to find answers to either hotel or neighbourhood related questions such as “is there a French restaurant nearby” or “what equipment is available at the hotel gym”.
Nowadays transparency has become a strong customer demand allowing to feel secure while experiencing services and blockchain is a technology able to produce this transparency. The travel industry relies upon information and sometimes even personal possessions being passed between multiple different companies, for example when it concerns the movement of luggage when travelling.
At the time of increasingly present travel restrictions, VR becomes a tool allowing customers to experience services or at least have a preliminary visit of places to avoid multiple travels. While it does not compare to experiencing the service physically, it does allow to experience services in a virtual environment. Hotels have started using this tool for virtual hotel tours and even hospitality education providers use it to allow students to visit school campuses before arrival. As an example, enhancing the experience with a VR headset has been used by Atlantis Dubai Hotel or Les Roches hospitality institute in Switzerland. While it does not compare to experiencing the service physically, it does allow to experience services in a virtual environment.
If we add Artificial Intelligence including Machine Learning to all previous solutions, new solutions will analyse the collected data from IoT sensors in devices, robots will learn from humans and other robots, visual recognition will provide potential services based on customers experience, VR will enhance experience based on customer satisfaction and blockchain will ensure traceability and transparency. Thus, customer hyper-personalization will arrive at the same level as health security measures.
It might seem that the evolution of these technologies is a natural response to the ever-growing needs of the modern customer, however, the current safety risks if not properly addressed by hospitality establishments can lead to serious consequences impacting the financial health of the businesses. The current context catalyses the need for more innovative solutions in the industry and while costly to implement can potentially save companies from permanently closing their doors to the customers.
By Pablo Garcia
Director of The Innovation Hub and Senior Lecturer in Innovation and Sustainability at Les Roches
About the author:
Pablo has been with Les Roches for almost 15 years, giving students the benefit of his expertise in food & beverage, culinary arts and nutrition.
He earned the status of executive chef at the tender age of just 21, while just a year later he became F&B Director at the corporate level.
He began teaching at 24 years of age, earning excellent feedback from his students each semester. He has lived and worked in Spain, Australia, Germany, Brazil and Switzerland.