Recent Tech Innovations and What They Mean For The Future of Hospitality

Innovative technologies are transforming every industry, moving them into the digital age; here’s how hotels can utilize new emerging technologies in the near future.

All tech is interconnected; when new advancements are made in other industries, there is a natural ripple effect. Whether it’s transportation, internet, or even gaming related, as tech progresses new advancements eventually become relevant to hospitality. Here are a few tech innovations that have people talking and how they might provide exciting opportunities for hoteliers in the near future and down the line.

Cryptocurrency

Guests Are Already Using It
Cryptocurrency, a digital form of payment, has grown widely popular in the last few years. Because crypto functions through the internet, its accessibility and its gold-standard digital security have been integral to its rise in usage. As the world moves further into digital spaces, security is paramount, and because of this, crypto has the potential to be a preferred payment for travelers in the coming years–especially when it comes to large payments at an upscale resort or a high stakes game. And since crypto is not tied to a certain region or physical currency, using a crypto wallet instead of a physical one can simplify international transactions while providing that added measure of digital security. While some hotels have already been making the shift to accept cryptocurrency, hoteliers should anticipate that guests will expect to be able to pay with crypto, sooner rather than later. Particularly, moving beyond just booking with crypto, but also linking their crypto wallet to the hotel guests app for purchases during their stay.

How Will This Benefit Hotels?
The most notable benefits to adding crypto as a payment option is the additional layer of digital security that cryptocurrencies have. Despite crypto’s consistent value fluctuation, it is becoming so integrated into global commerce, it might actually be able to simplify payments, making it more convenient for guests to make purchases while adding an extra layer of protection against fraud.

Virtual Immersion

Opening a Virtual World of Opportunity
Last year, Facebook announced its intention of building the Metaverse, a Virtual Reality (VR) world where commerce and social connection intersect. Microsoft also announced its own take on mixed reality with Mesh, a communication and collaboration platform that enables team members to have a shared virtual experience. Some in the hospitality industry are concerned about the negative ramifications of virtual immersion, wondering if the ability to “go anywhere” without leaving the comfort of your home will demotivate people to travel. But from a consumer perspective, VR is not, and may never be, a replacement for physical travel. Rather there are many exciting opportunities VR brings to table to enhance guests experience while staying at a hotel, resort, or casino. Here are few ways hoteliers have started to explore VR in hospitality:

Events
When people think of VR, they usually think of gaming. While some hotels have made VR gaming available to guests, VR offers more applications than just games. Adding virtual immersion shopping, gambling, even concerts and conferences, could be a way for hotels to offer unique experiences that don’t require good weather or a lot of space. Instead of thinking of VR as something separate from what a property is already doing or offering, hoteliers could consider how VR can be an exciting addition.

Walk-Throughs
During the pandemic, VR house tours rose in popularity as they offered an alternative for house hunters who were not able to tour a home in person due to COVID concerns or travel restrictions. Hotels, resorts, and longer-term vacation rentals have also been using this application to showcase their property, guest rooms and facilities to guests before they book.

Putting a Face To Automation
“The metaverse could help break the ‘walls’ between humans and machines,” says Linchi Kwok, Associate Professor at The Collins College of Hospitality Management. Kwok suggests VR avatars could help to humanize the more “robotic” services that a hotel has to offer. Automated services, when provided by avatars, could add a personal touch. Beyond that, using AI-powered avatars could further support the hospitality industry during periods of staff shortage, automating tasks to balance a lean team’s workload.

NFTs

Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, represent ownership of one-of-a-kind digital collectables such as digital art. In the last two years, NFTs have become widely popular and their value often depends on their rarity. But NFTs are more than just art pieces to view, they can also be VR experiences, or even act as tickets to access exclusive promotions or loyalty programs.

How is the Hospitality Industry using NFTs?
Since the technology is new, this past year has been a year of experimenting. Some hoteliers are getting creative with NFTs and seeing what comes of it in terms of interest and revenue. Here are few example of innovation with NFTs from 2021:

  • SLS South Beach and SLS Brickell offered a range of physical and digital entertainment and art through the NFT BAZL marketplace from the comfort of their guest rooms.
  • Marriott released three NFTs; attendees of their FaZe Forever were able to enter to win one of the three NFT virtual reality experiences as well as reward points.

What Can Hoteliers Do To Prepare?
While some of the advancement currently in the limelight may seem overwhelming, there are few tech adoption principles hoteliers can always rely on:

  1. Choosing the tech that integrates well with your current tech stack will set you up for success as digital spaces and devices continue to advance.
  2. Partnering with a vendor who prioritizes your needs will make adapting new tech smoother all around.
  3. The guests’ experience is paramount; implement tech that serves your guests to fullest.

To learn more about what tech is available to elevate guest experience, start a conversation today

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