The world is currently battling with the unprecedented effects of the COVID-19. The severe situation had stalled travel plans for the majority of the people around the world but it is expected that hotel bookings will see a recovery after September 2020. However, it is also predicted that people will be more inclined towards traveling domestic rather than international. Thus, it is imperative for the hotels to be prepared before the business starts to ramp up and use this interim period as an opportunity to overhaul their legacy systems. In a post COVID scenario, technology will have a big role to play in furthering the digital transformation journey of the hotels. Digital solutions that can identify touchpoints and ensure minimum physical contact among the guests and the employees at each point of contact will take the center stage.
Gone are those days when a visit to a brick-and-mortar travel agent was mandatory every time one needed to plan a family vacation. Fast forward to now, in the era of digital transformation and next-gen mobility, travelers today, are playing a much larger role in building their holiday experiences.
Technology has revolutionized the way we travel, and with an exclusive focus on customer experience today, it is only set to get better in the following years. Let us look at a typical customer journey through their travel itinerary from holiday planning to its completion.
Technological advances have been instrumental in driving change in human lives and in steering the digital transformation journey of several industries. The hospitality industry is one such industry that has been reaping rich dividends by the application of technology. Right from enhancing the customer experience to streamlining front-end and back-end operations, technology is helping hospitality service providers conduct efficient resource utilization, optimize costs and improve customer experience. The introduction of over-the-top content has transformed the hospitality television landscape. Guests prefer the interactive and content-based OTT services to the linear content that was once the norm. Guestroom TVs have evolved from mere devices that help watch movies and shows to comprehensive interactive systems that entertain, inform and control guests thereby elevating the customer experience.
The hospitality industry must deal with ever-evolving customers’ tastes every single day. Major advances owing to digital innovation has enabled the market entry of brand new segments which are also performing wonderfully. What were once fledgling private accommodation and ride-hailing brands in 2009 are already at par with the Goliaths of travel.
Quite obviously, technology has brought in an unprecedented revolution as guests now demand and judge the premises based on the level of personalized experiences they get. It is no mean feat, therefore, to satisfy the trifecta of expectations that the modern customer has. This includes hyper-personalized services, seamless user experience and availability of technology that helps bridge the gap.
A lot of the ‘video as applicable to Travel and Hospitality Industry’ articles focus on brand new experiences that are not mainstream today. Most of the focus here is on Augmented, Virtual or Mixed reality. Virtual Reality (VR) is primarily focused on giving potential customers a view of their ‘target destination’ in the first person. In this use-case, they put in specialized VR headsets and they see themselves in target destinations. In other words, this is very similar to the VR gaming industry, just applied to a different ‘end user experience’. Augmented Reality (AR) on the other hand is becoming more mainstream and is actually offered by many vendors today. For example, Amazon today allows you to shop for items, then ‘place the item anywhere in your house’ to see how it would look using your phone camera and AR. Similarly, several fashion brands allow you to try on catalog items on yourself using AR.
In today’s connected world, access to Wi-Fi is a necessity. Players in the hospitality industry are expected to offer Wi-Fi access to their guests during their stay at their facilities for a connected experience. There are several technology companies across the globe that are enabling digital transformation in the travel and hospitality sector with numerous offerings that help design, develop and deploy an effective WiFi services management solution.
In today’s world, guest Wi-Fi is ranked among the top desired amenity across the globe and therefore it is a critical component of the digital experience for many companies. A frictionless Wi-Fi experience is defined by various factors which play an important role in the end-user experience such as accessibility, speed, coverage, and security of the network. Though much has been done for improving the speed and coverage part, however when it comes to providing seamless guest access to Wi-Fi there is still a long way to go.
Social data analytics helps Hoteliers to get a clear understanding of segment behavior, needs, and expectations. It helps them identify profitable customer segments, their buying preferences: personalized methods can be devised to target profitable segments. Right Positioning for these segments helps to encourage repeated visits, increase sales during their stay by upselling profitable services like fine dining, exotic wines & cocktails, gyms, spa services, golf theatre, local site trips etc.
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