The Changing Face of Hospitality

Hospitality as we know it has undergone several transformations over the course of its existence. Centuries ago, inns opened their doors along common trade roads to serve as lodgings for the passing traveller. Today, guest expectations have evolved far beyond just having a place to stop for the night.

With the rise in affluence all over the world, the keyword for the hospitality industry in the last century could be said to be “luxury”. Hotels offered grand and extravagant rooms and services, a far cry from the industry’s humble origins. With the ‘guest is king’ mindset, they competed to be bastions of opulence where guests were treated like royalty.

When technology came along, the hospitality industry was changed forever. Early hospitality management systems helped properties manage more bookings and welcome more guests than ever before.

But there was one problem: these systems were not equipped to handle the speed at which technology and its usage would evolve.

For hoteliers, this is a familiar experience: managing hospitality management systems that are central to your property's operations, which you cannot replace easily because of the cost and logistics involved.

But because these systems were developed before modern channels of guest communication and engagement came into play, they don't leave much room for technological flexibility. This means hotels have to continually swap out software and make expensive updates, in order to deliver upon guests' expectations, which can be a huge burden on the operations team.

So what awaits the hospitality industry in the future?

As a result of the increasing affordability of travel, people are flying younger than ever. As far back as 2018, millennials were travelling more than any other age group, with up to 35 travel days per year.

These internet-savvy millennials are also the ones spearheading changing travel habits around the world. Due to the ready access to information online, more are taking their travel plans in hand, and relying less on tour agencies and online travel agents. As early as 2019, travel agencies were reporting falls in itinerary bookings, with more travellers preferring to plan their own trips. They are more particular about their travel choices, and do extensive research before designing their itinerary. Hence, it is important that online information about your property is kept up to date, so that prospective guests can trust in the accuracy of your website and make their direct bookings for their stay.

At the same time, stay reviews – complete with photos and videos – are now easily accessible on booking sites and social media. These reviews instantly reflect on a property’s service and shape guest impressions, long before they have even made their booking. Coupled with the growing plethora of social media apps, maintaining timely and accurate communication with guests across messaging platforms has become even more of a challenge.

There is also an increased preference for quality experiences and cultural immersion among travellers today. 60% of millennial UK travellers said that the most important part of travel to them is authentic cultural exposure, according to a report from Expedia and consumer insight analysts Future Foundation.

On top of these trends is, of course, the biggest event that has changed the hospitality landscape in the recent past: the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic put the spotlight back on hygiene and the safety of travel, and hospitality’s place in it. Reducing physical touchpoints while maintaining the same high standards of service expected of the industry seemed almost counterintuitive. How could an industry that traditionally prided itself on the human touch, now remove that very element from their service?

The solution to all of these changes, necessitated by both circumstance and preference, has quickly become apparent in the form of contactless smart solutions, such as self check-ins and independent guest messaging.

Using contactless technology, hotels can meet travellers halfway on their preferred platform of choice and provide what they are looking for – tech-savvy solutions that enable independent travel experiences off the beaten path.

Enabling guests to use their own phones to communicate their needs and requests empowers them to proceed through their travel plans at their own pace, without the discomfort of relying on a communal device or going through the traditional front desk. The easy access to the internet and guest data also means hoteliers can make more informed recommendations to better serve the guest’s unique preferences, instead of giving generic suggestions that do not speak to the guest.

Because that is the keyword for today’s hospitality: “independence”. Travellers today do not need hoteliers to be at their beck and call; rather, hotels that can serve the traveller’s individual needs, to the traveller’s comfort and convenience, are the standouts in today’s hospitality world. By understanding the guest as an individual through big data and smart tech solutions, hoteliers can provide personalised attention, enabling them to go above and beyond the traditional definition of hospitality.

The prospect of such drastic technological change may be intimidating, especially for properties who are using traditional hospitality management software and hardware. Every new function seems to demand a new software to be installed, swiftly racking up costs and increasing the number of systems for staff to monitor and manage.

Here’s where Trabble’s guest engagement platform comes in. Trabble works in conjunction with your existing systems and data, and brings them all together on a single platform so that staff no longer need to juggle between apps and software to get their work done. At the same time, it enables guest self check-in and automated guest chat functionality with a straightforward setup process and no additional hardware requirements. By doing so, Trabble aims to be a technology that takes the stress off your staff, so they can pay full attention to your guests.

After all, in spite of all the ways that the travel and hospitality industry has changed, hospitality as a concept remains much the same. At the heart of it, hoteliers wish to welcome their guests, connect with them, provide quality experiences that will leave a positive impression, and have them return for future stays. In the modern day, only the means by which hospitality is delivered has changed. It is time for hoteliers to embrace the potential of smart technology to elevate travel experiences for the guests they serve, or risk being left behind.

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