Tomorrow's Hospitality A-Z – Navigating the future

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The COVID-19 pandemic created an unprecedented crisis for hotel operators. However, as with many crises, the pandemic also presented unique opportunities. For example, many operators deployed technology for safer, healthier environments and an improved guest experience.

Authors: Tony Alfonso

At the onset of the pandemic, technology adoption focused on equipment sanitization and contactless payment systems to safeguard physical environments for guests. A newer trend is moving hotel operations to platforms that take advantage of web3 and blockchain technologies, thereby allowing owners and operators to capture, organize and use data to improve hotel operations.

Adoption of contactless payment systems can allow use of cryptocurrencies to streamline the payment process and decrease costs. Although adopting new technologies brings challenges and obstacles, such as the volatility of cryptocurrencies, these technologies do improve and overcome barriers. For example, “stablecoins,” which are tied to traditional fiat currencies, now provide stability in the use of cryptocurrencies. Blockchains also can help hotel operators manage their loyalty programs and create more efficient processes for guests to redeem rewards.

Hotel operators now use internet-of-things technology, such as sensors, to gather real time data related to the use of electricity and other resources in hotel operations. This real-time data gives operators the detailed information required to reduce operation costs and environmental impacts. As companies continue to focus on adopting environmental, social and governance (ESG) plans, reducing costs and environmental impacts in hotel operations can also contribute toward reaching a company’s decarbonization and other ESG goals.

As hotels increasingly use new technologies in operations, operators need to be mindful of unintended consequences from the legal and risk management perspective. Replacing employees with technology can increase liability, which hotel operators may need to consider and mitigate. It is important to make sure that the hotel operator’s risk management procedures and insurance programs cover new technology from both property and liability perspectives. This important consideration gets overlooked when risk management teams are unaware of new technologies being added to hotel operations.

In spite of the benefits technology brings to hotel operations, there are always risks in replacing human interactions with technology. It is important for hotel operators to carefully consider how technology can effectively enhance the guest experience without detracting from it. Guests can sometimes be frustrated when, as we have all experienced in our daily lives, robots or automated systems cannot perform as effectively as humans in solving problems. Hotel operators need to be especially mindful of this issue since customer satisfaction is the foundation of the hospitality industry.

Key takeaways
  • Hotel operators use technology to decrease costs and enhance the guest experience.
  • Technology can improve efficiency and mitigate environmental impacts.
  • Watch out for unintended consequences when technology replaces human interactions.
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