As 2018 gets underway, investment in technology cannot be far from the agenda of the forward thinking hotelier. We took some time out to catch up with leading hospitality academic, Professor Dimitrios Buhalis, Head of the Department of Tourism and Hospitality and Director of the eTourism Lab at Bournemouth University, to understand what key technological developments are driving change within the industry.
What are the most significant technological developments impacting the future of the hotel industry?
Firstly, without a doubt, Artificial Intelligence. It will revolutionise the industry as we know it. The immense volume of data that it will provide access to will help us truly understand customer behaviour. It will ultimately enable us to anticipate needs and provide the guest with what they need, when they need it. This will prove transformational in developing our relationships with our customers.
Any investment in AI needs to be well thought out though. There is a real risk that the over investment in too many machines all working against each other and causing chaos. There needs to be control.
Anything else that hoteliers cannot afford to ignore as we embark on a new year?
Robots will be used more and more to deliver cost benefits and service efficiencies. We are already seeing robotic butlers being used to deliver room service in some hotels. With the ability to speak over 50 languages and offer 24 service on demand, they provide a level of service that can never be achieved by humans. It is a balancing act though, as they lack the emotional intelligence so important in the hospitality industry. But huge efficiencies can be made in the more labour intensive roles such as house-keeping and room service.
How soon will hotels need to explore these technologies so as not to be left behind?
The required speed of adoption will ultimately depend on prevailing market conditions. Large hotels in London with a sizable headcount and international customer base will be under greater pressure especially with the potential impact of Brexit looming– the cost efficiencies could prove significant. Hotels need to understand their market position and how this new wave of technology can drive both cost and operational benefits.
Professor Buhalis will be joining us at Revenue Management 3.0-Where Next’ where he will be moderating the panel discussion ‘ Driving Efficiencies through Technology' .Here, hotel technology leaders will discuss how this new wave of technology can be leveraged for ultimate efficiencies. Read more here about this industry-leading one-day event here www.opportunity2018.co.uk