Within past years, increased access to technology has changed the hospitality industry in more ways than one. From the way fast food workers prepare meals to AI technologies in hospitals, the impacts of technological advancements are taking the service industry by storm. Advancing technologies can take an establishment from four to five stars, taking stress off of employees and simplifying the customer experience. From financial savings to a reduced work load for staff members, technological advancements in the hospitality industry offer new and changing alternatives to the ways things have always been done.
As stated even a decade and a half ago in the International Journal of Hospitality Management, the main objective of utilizing information technology (IT) in the lodging industry is to improve productivity (Ham, 2005). Throughout the study summarized within the journal, it is recorded and found that within the US and internationally, there is evidence to support that IT advancements in the “back end” of hotels and similar service establishments have excellent positive effects. On the other hand, technological advancements in relation to guest interaction yield less of those same results. Significantly seen in higher end hotels and establishments, this means that IT advancements may make processing and administrative work a smoother experience, but guests still prefer to have human interaction when it comes to experience-based stays.
On the side of productivity that the guest rarely sees, environmental sustainability is making strides in the hospitality industry for more than the idea of going green. While green based practices are celebrated by guests (and may even draw more in), there are numerous advantages to advancing technology in an ever evolving world. Jeffery Smith, Vice President Sustainability at Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, states his viewpoint on Hospitality Net by addressing the possibilities that incorporating sustainable technologies in our hotels could offer. Most traditionally speaking, there is of course a financial draw to becoming more sustainable. Smith explains that utilities are the second highest cost to a hotel, and that by introducing energy conservation methods, the industry can not only reduce its carbon footprint but also its utility bill (Hospitality Net, 2019).
Furthermore, Smith dives into the concept of occupancy sensors and room automation. Citing the Hilton brand member app, guests are exposed to sustainability in a way that directly benefits them: by incentivizing utilizing occupancy settings through allowing clients to earn reward perks when they do their part. In this way, guests are able to lessen their own environmental impacts and earn instant gratification for it, too. Likewise, José Koechlin von Stein, founder and CEO of Inkaterra Hotels, contributes that travelers are often fueled by research, conservation, and authenticity. Changes implemented by Inkaterra through their collaboration of “Sustainable Machu Picchu” have given new life to a region that was once on its way to the top of UNESCO’s “Patrimony at Risk” list. Since beginning efforts in 1975, Koechlin and Inkaterra have incorporated waste-reducing concepts into the area. Along with reducing the wastage of nearly 2,000 liters of used cooking oil on a monthly basis, the addition of a compacting machine is capable of processing up to “14 tons of plastic waste each day,” (Hospitality Net, 2019). Furthermore, organic waste materials have also become transformed: high temperatures achieved through a pyrolysis plant are capable of decomposing the waste into Bio-char, a soil described by Koechlin as “a nutrient-rich … amendment used for local high-mountain agriculture and forest restoration.” It is clear that entering this year, the biggest concept on the forefront of everyone’s mind when it comes to technological advancements in the hospitality industry is the ability to minimize our future environmental turmoil on the Earth. Going green has become much more than installing solar panels and turning lights off, it is now a movement made possible by IT advancements.
On the other end of things, guests are also critical facets of advanced technology integration in the industry. As mentioned previously, guests are not generally looking for a human-free experience, but are beginning to expect a higher standard of technological capabilities when visiting a hotel. A more connected and responsive connection between staff, guests, and the experience itself is becoming the new norm. Megan Pope of INTELITY, the self-titled global provider of the broadest enterprise guest experience and management, shares the expansive real-world network of the Internet of Things, or IoT. The concept of IoT is revolutionary in providing the most personalized and personable experience that our industry has ever been able to offer.
The Internet of Things encompasses over 26 billion devices worldwide that collect and transmit information and data in real time, and that number is expected to nearly triple in the next five years (Pope, 2020). In the up-and-coming technological era that is developing the hospitality industry, seamlessly incorporating IoT in order to best serve both staff and guests will soon separate the most and least successful establishments. Examples of IoT in the hospitality industry can be using their own devices for remote check in, unlocking room doors, communicating with staff, and adjusting TV, room, and reservation preferences. Automating guest room controls and autonomous occupancy monitoring are technological advancements that have never been feasible before, but are now transforming the industry. From reducing emissions and carbon footprints to changing the entirety of a guest’s customizable experience, changing technologies ensure that the industry never gets old school.
From staff to guests, next door and across the globe, the implementation of technology in the hospitality industry allows for a simpler and more functional interface for communication, sustainability, and an undoubted long term importance.
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