Emerging hospitality tech stack trends point toward personalized, customizable approaches that keep guests at the center while opening new revenue streams and giving operators more control over creating comprehensive guest experiences.
Here are six future hospitality trends sure to make a mark in 2022 and beyond.
6 Hospitality Trends to Watch
1. Hospitality tech stacks will become more integrated, fundamentally changing commerce and operations.
The hospitality software marketplace has become cluttered with niche solutions aimed at improving operations in various ways. While this is a positive development, trying to juggle too many technology solutions can quickly become cumbersome and expensive.
Integration solutions that enable various tech tools to work together from a centralized interface are set to improve this situation in a meaningful way. Integrated resorts that leverage multiple, integrated resort-wide systems enjoy benefits like finding new opportunities for cross-selling and upselling, and for creating the kind of multi-amenity resort experience offerings that appeal to modern guests. On the operational side, the next generation of integrated tech stacks will make it easier to train new hires, enable teams to provide on-demand guest services or bookings, and see all their data in one place.
2. Contactless and mobile options will become a requirement, not an option.
UrVenue’s Head of Product, Mitchell Zak, says that resorts should be looking toward contactless and mobile enhancements to the booking experience. “Mobile capabilities have become imperative for guests to manage their stay on their own time, without external involvement,” he says. “Staying with an analog approach also can easily overwhelm operations and guest services teams, especially during pandemic times with labor shortages.”
Gen X, Gen Y, Millennials, and beyond expect a contactless, mobile-friendly experience from the booking experience through check-out. These guests are less likely to pick up a phone to make an inquiry or send an email. Zak says they want a “simple, straightforward experience for getting what they need out of the resort.”
3. Resorts will make a big push toward reclaiming their inventory.
The “love-hate” relationship between travel aggregators like Expedia and the inventory providers (such as airlines, resorts, car rental companies and so on) is likely to shift as resorts upgrade their tech stacks.
“There’s always a cost to putting your inventory on someone else’s system or on someone else’s marketplace,” Zak explains. “By upgrading their tech stack and working on their own direct channels and user experiences, hotels and resorts can start taking back some of that inventory and regaining control over how they sell it.” On direct channels, hotels and resorts can easily create personalized promotions and offers, manage pricing in real-time, and keep guests updated with any changes to their bookings. Ultimately, reclaiming their inventory is about improving the bottom line.
4. Cryptocurrency could become more common as a payment option.
Recently, Resorts World made headlines because of its partnership with Gemini, a cryptocurrency exchange that facilitates the sale and storage of digital assets. The partnership will allow guests to pay for certain services with crypto.
While this is still a new space and it’s unlikely we’ll see widespread adoption across all target markets anytime soon, crypto is becoming quite popular among several generations. Recent research reveals that one in four Millennials holds some amount of cryptocurrency.
5. Self-service offerings will become the norm for the average guest.
Self-service features related to itinerary building and unified shopping experiences are becoming more commonplace. Consumers across industries are now accustomed to being in control of their own, personalized experiences. Imagine a diverse marketplace where different kinds of travelers can embark on different kinds of booking paths. “With more self-service channels popping up on both direct and indirect channels, travelers of different demographics may take completely separate booking paths to plan their stays beyond the room. For example, luxury travelers may book directly through a hotel site while a business traveler may book through a third party conventions app,” Zak says.
The divergence of booking paths stems from an emerging guest expectation that properties meet them where they are, and where they spend the time, rather than the other way around. They’re expecting a one-way street.
In order to meet these expectations, we’re likely to see resorts opening up their inventory on more channels so that guests can access it when creating multivariate experiences. Soon, experience-based inventory will be ubiquitous the same way flights and rooms can be found everywhere.
Currently, consumers can embark on booking journeys that “package” together hotels, flights, and car rentals all in the same booking path using a third-party aggregator such as Expedia or Kayak. But that’s it. Travelers are unable to book experience-based inventory like restaurants, cabanas, spa treatments, show tickets, and beyond in the same booking journey. Being able to complete traditional travel plus experiences in a single booking journey will be a significant leap forward in the coming years – and UrVenue is making this a reality.
6. Data will be used more effectively throughout the hospitality industry.
Data literacy is on the rise, both for consumers and operators. There has been a lot of growth in leveraging technologies like AI and machine learning, for example, to power conversational chatbots on resort websites.
Operators will also benefit from data insights to increase personalization in the guest experience. Guest data can help resorts identify attributes that can be used to create tailored offerings they are more likely to buy into — in other words, data drives better cross-selling and up-selling opportunities.
Data will create fundamentally new revenue drivers: dynamic, intelligent, real-time pricing adjustments and more effective upselling. At the center of any effective data-driven approach is transparency. Modern hospitality tech will need to be sophisticated enough to run complex data analytics, but accessible enough that operators who lack extensive knowledge about data can still wield that data skillfully.
“One of the holy grails of analytics in hospitality tech is turning complex datasets into actionable intelligence,” Zak says. “The hospitality tech stack will eventually include data solutions that tell users what to do with their data beyond dashboards and reports.”
Hospitality — Today and Tomorrow — Will Always Be Guest-Driven
Tech advances will drastically change resort operations over the next several years, but no matter how advanced hospitality tech stacks become, one central tenet will remain: hospitality is about the guest experience.
“Staying ahead of the curve is about more than just keeping up with the latest technology,” Zak says. “It’s about developing better relationships with your guests. And if there are cloud and mobile solutions that can help deepen those relationships to better understand their needs, then technology really is just a means to an end.”