The future of hospitality: how to stay ahead of the game?


The future of hospitality: how to stay ahead of the game?
Constant growth of the global hospitality market and tourism, changing media habits, increasing demand for special experiences, competition with Airbnb, Expedia and the likes – all this poses both a great challenge and a great opportunity for hotels. People are always on the hunt for something novel, as novelty evokes interest. Thus the appeal of digital experiences that represent a new way to communicate and command people's attention. Hotels that want to be ahead of the game are finding ways to enhance the guest experience with digital solutions to ensure engagement and make the visit special and memorable, at the same time generating additional revenue.

Global hospitality market and tourism are growing strong


The global hotel supply, including accommodations in tourism residences and extended stay brands passed the benchmark of 22 million rooms, growing by some 4% with respect to last year’s listed supply. According to Tourism Towards 2030, the number of international tourist arrivals worldwide is expected to increase by an average of 3,3% a year, reaching 1,4 billion by 2020 and 1,8 billion by 2030.


Meanwhile, hotels all over the world are under constant pressure to respond to increasing demand for comfort, equipment and good quality for a reasonable price. Compared by industry, customer satisfaction in hotels seems to have quite some room for improvement. In-room internet quality (Wi-Fi) and in-room entertainment (TV, movies) are especially rated low in surveys about guest satisfaction.


The way media is consumed is changing


Consumer behaviour in media consumption is also changing a lot. In addition to traditional linear TV, the usage of audio and video streaming services is growing fast. Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime, Spotify,.. – the list is extensive. The challenge for the hotels today is to enable guests to combine THEIR technology and THEIR access to media with the technology provided by the hotel. If this comes with additional benefits for the guests, even better! However, this might bear quite a lot of challenges for hotels. Due to the complexity and the costs involved, those offers have been limited to very sophisticated independent hotels or the luxury brands of the main chains.


Hotels need to react to increasing pressure from OTAs


One of the main challenges of todays hotel industry is the “frenemy” relationship with online travel agencies (OTAs). Therefore hotels are searching for additional ways to communicate with guests to promote ancillary revenue sources to “own” more of the whole travel experience and to establish a tighter relationship with the brand or the property itself. Using more “contact points” is also creating valuable data about guest preferences. This is seen as a main leverage when protecting a direct guest relationship against the OTAs.


Interactive TV, mobile apps etc. are perfect examples for those contact points, enabling guests to browse the room-service menu, check available time slots for a spa treatment, receive a message about the starting happy hour or read the promotion about an event nearby. The fact is, hotels have enormous (but often unused) potential for generating ancillary revenue.


Make the hotel special with experiences and engagement


The good news is hotels have the chance to own the experience! The best way to become special is to engage with guests and offer memorable experiences. The more guests can engage with the hotel and its services, the more experiences they have, the better the reviews and also, the higher the chance they come back. Constant communication with the guests is the key.


Ancillary revenue options offer higher profit margins while profit on room revenue declines.  Moreover, ancillary revenue has not to be shared with OTA’s – yet!, Expedia, TripAdvisor, Airbnb – they all are starting to focus stronger on launching ‘experiences’ apps etc. And why not? OTA’s want to tighten the relationship with the customer, own more of the experience, gain valuable data and make additional revenue. So should the hotel.


There are so many options for ancillary revenue – from upgrades, spa treatments, fine dining, drinks at the bar, wine tasting, retail products, tickets for events, sightseeing tours, bike rental, personal trainer sessions, local art exhibitions, an airport shuttle to late check-out and the list goes on… To make it work, ancillary revenue options have to be well promoted and communicated by the hotel.



Unified digital guest experience platform


Engagement, more experiences, personalization, ancillary revenue:  it is clear it all comes down to communication. This is what at-visions Group does, providing additional channels to interact with guests on and off site in a unified way delivered through managed services. With unique technology and extensive know-how at-visions is able to connect all pieces for guest communication on ONE unified platform.


First of all, a unified platform Mobile App, which is the most direct channel, always and everywhere, very versatile with many use cases. The ubiquity of smart mobile devices is combined with an ever-increasing number of applications. With the mobile app the hotel is with the guest wherever they are at any given moment, on and off site, along their whole journey!


The mobile app’s main features include a mobile check-in/-out for smooth process without waiting in line and a keyless entry, so guests can use their smartphone to open doors, no keycard needed. The app is also an easy way to provide guests valuable information about hotel services and surroundings, in addition to being an ideal platform for promotions and ordering – push notifications and simplified ordering processes for spa treatments, in-room dining, etc or 3rd party promotions.


Secondly, a unified platform In-room TV, a very obvious choice for an additional contact point. Sophisticated user interface, easy to navigate, instant messages for promotions – all enabling to make use of existing assets. It also allows for the convenience of streaming your own content via the hotel TV as one would do at home. TVs are placed prominently and hard to be missed, providing a very good focus point in every room to communicate with the guests. Smart TV sets are nowadays given in almost every hotel, so no additional hardware investment in many cases is needed. More digital content, more “digitized” screens, more connectivity – all this makes IP based streaming more and more important.


The third component of the at-visions ONE platform is unified platform Digital Signage – eye catching and flexible. No matter if wayfinding, pure information or promotional content, with digital signage you get your message delivered. Moving elements and bright screens with HD visuals make for comparable high attention. Placement in areas with high guest frequency and/or dwell time increases visibility. Content is made relevant by dynamic adjustment to time, location, utilization or other criteria. Screens are centrally controlled with roles-based user rights management system. Similar to mobile apps, digital signage has numerous use cases among a wide variety of industries.


Last but not least – Networks. The underlying network technology – wired and wireless – is the basic infrastructure for all applications and IP based technologies now and in the future. A unified platform WiFi splash page – one of the most visited sites in any hotel brands digital presence.  It is an additional and hard to be missed contact point, featuring easy authentication via various methods and redirection to mobile app right after sign-on.


Stay ahead of the game – own the guest journey


To summarize, hotels should focus more on communication with its guests, informing them about what the hotel has to offer, to make the guests aware how they can enhance their stay. Including more and more contact points and special services into ONE unified digital platform increases engagement with the hotel establishment and its brand, creates more data for personalization and brings more revenue.


Hotels can use this data for creating and offering exciting and memorable experiences, by getting the information about what people really want. Hotels are the “Hub” of the entire stay – or at least should be. So why not claim more of the whole travel experience and stay ahead of the game.


Reaching guests right where they are with novel digital solutions hotels are able to engage people immediately, give them rewards and establish a longer-term relationship through its digital components. More experiences, more guest satisfaction, more revenue – it’s as simple as that.