In the past few years, hotels and restaurants have grown into hubs for entertainment, leisure, and human connection. In an effort to best serve their guests, operators have begun rethinking their technological investments and working to adapt to recent shifts in consumer preference and operations. To ensure that guests have the best on-site experience possible, brands are increasingly looking to new technologies to make their experiences more convenient and comfortable. Advanced property management systems (PMS) and point-of-sale (POS) systems can increase operational and staff efficiency, while also meeting changing customer expectations for a high-value but relatively low-touch experience.
Connecting with customers through personalization
To increase engagement and meet skyrocketing customer expectations, the hospitality sector are working to create more personalized experiences. The data shows consumers are willing to pay more for unique experiences catered to their wants and needs -- for instance a recent Oracle study found more than half of hotel guests (54%) are willing to pay more to choose their view; 38% to choose their room; and 32% to choose their room floor.
One essential benefit that personalization can provide is the creation of more opportunities for upselling to maximize conversion. As both industries accumulate more data, they can more seamlessly flag perks and benefits that a specific customer or demographic would appreciate. For instance, hotels can offer visitors a free night around the time they normally book vacations or offer customers a free treat around their birthday or anniversary. These data-driven offers can be based on guests’ behaviors starting from the booking process all the way to check out and beyond.
Meanwhile, restaurants are creating loyalty programs that promote experiential dining and exclusive offerings catered to specific customers. Both tactics leverage their consumers’ desire for unique experiences to uncover and produce plentiful upselling opportunities backed by data.
Technological investments support operators’ abilities to meet consumers where they are, giving them what they want and going beyond the norm, even through emerging avenues. For instance, with the rise of short-term rentals, hotels are now blending accommodation styles. Meanwhile, restaurants are increasing customer engagement through platforms like the metaverse and newer business models such as ghost kitchens and virtual brands.
Assisting staff and consumers with self-service and automation
Across industries, operators are leveraging self-service tools and automation through AI and machine learning technology to improve operational efficiency and experiences for customers. Tools like chatbots, applications, and self-service kiosks at restaurants and hotels give guests a self-service option to instantly fulfill their requests. For example, according to Oracle Food and Beverage research, about half of customers want to manage their dietary preferences when ordering at restaurants. Self-service kiosks give diners complete control over their meals, further reinforcing their need for customization and personalization while providing restaurants with valuable insights into specific customers’ wants and needs.
Self-service and automation tools also support fast on-boarding, which is critical in today’s growing workforce. A report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found 23.1% of the projected 8.3 million new jobs between 2021 to 2031 are expected to be in the leisure and hospitality industries. With millions of new employees moving into the industry, ensuring they are all well-trained will be an essential goal. Enhancements like gamification can make the training process more enjoyable and reward employees in unique ways for reaching certain milestones or achieving goals. The result is a more encouraging work environments and increased employee retention, even as the labor market ebbs and flows.
On the day-to-day side of things, self-service and automation tools free up employees from time consuming tasks, creating a more efficient environment. In the restaurant industry, self-service kiosks and chatbots simplify the ordering process so employees can take on more back-of-house roles like distributing meals and cooking. Meanwhile, data-driven insights from AI-supported upselling tools enable hotel staff to offer the most appropriate upgrades and amenities to their guests.
Supporting all efforts through streamlined operations
The way establishments traditionally store their data – on all different systems such as property PMS, CRM, and ERP – can cause inconsistency and difficulty in retrieving information about customers. Today, restaurants and hotels see the value in implementing tightly integrated technology strategies to support overall innovation. With the increased importance of personalization, lodging and dining preferences do not have to be viewed as totally separate sets of data but rather can be integrated into one record that creates a more complete guest profile. Cloud-based technology enables businesses store all data on one system, providing easily accessible information and generating consistent service.
Additionally, cloud-based solutions provide centralized control and continuous updates so restaurants and hoteliers can easily deploy new services and initiatives. For example, operators can simplify payments processing by embedding it into their core systems while evolving with new fintech solutions. In turn, they can then use their transaction data to inform and automate businesses operations. A cloud-based system also enhances work environments by enabling on-premises and off-premises work models and allowing workplace flexibility for backend employees that aren’t on the frontline. Overall, reliable cloud infrastructure enables establishments to build their own custom solutions using a wide range of third-party integrations for loyalty, payments, kiosk deployment, and other hospitality operations.
Looking ahead, the hospitality and restaurant industries will continue to leverage smart, connected technology to support their customers’ constantly changing needs and preferences. In the next few years, hotels and restaurants will likely continue to blur the lines between human-centric and tech-driven hospitality to evolve with their competitive landscape and their customers.