hotel room Image credit PIxabay/stocksnapNew research from Oracle and Skift has shown that travellers expect a radically different experience than the one they had before the pandemic. The research is possibly good news for hoteliers, despite the required investment for many. In November, Skift reported that the Labour shortage was not going away. The latest findings seem to back this and the strategy that the CEOs of several global hotel chains discussed in a panel covered by Skift.

Travellers want less contact with staff. 71% of people want hotels to offer tech that minimises contact with the staff and other guests. The most convenient methodology is for the mobile phone to be the access point for checking in and out, paying, ordering food, and unlocking room doors. Some hotels already offer these experiences. However, the checking in and the door locks probably provide the greatest challenge and cost.

Alex Alt, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Hospitality
Alex Alt, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Hospitality

Alex Alt, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Hospitality, commented: “The pandemic has established technology’s role in the guest and associate journey, and the industry is never going back. Whether a hotel organisation has two properties or 2,000, guests are looking for the highly digital, self-service experience they have come to expect in other parts of their lives, from banking to ordering food. For hoteliers to meet these demands, especially given the current labour shortages faced by the hospitality industry, they need systems that will enable them to quickly adapt. This means being able to ‘plug in’ new services better and more efficiently, in order to serve a diverse group of travellers.” 

The study, “Hospitality in 2025: Automated, Intelligent… and More Personal”, was based on a survey of 5,000 travellers and over 600 hotel executives from the UK, the United States, Germany, France, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Brazil, and Mexico. Enterprise Times only had access to the UK numbers as of writing.

What will holidays look like

The pandemic has left people wary of contact with other people. What is missing from the research provided is whether people will look to travel independently to their vacation destination, and avoid using airlines where they risk contact with Covid. Once they arrive at their destination, 91% of travellers don’t miss being around other people during their hotel stay. It is not clear what this means for communal events and entertainment. One suspects that there is also a difference between the generations, but this was not highlighted in the information provided.

The survey also doesn’t look back at historical data. It is unclear how big a trend shift the report has uncovered. Interestingly, the figures in the Oracle report are less drastic than those from an earlier survey in August 2020 by Criton. That found that 80% would download an app that gave them a touchless experience to check-in and out and get information about the hotel.

What do travellers expect

The report is extensive, below are some of the factors where the majority of travellers expected change were:

  • 87% said they would be likely to book a hotel that allowed them to pay only for amenities that they use
  • 72% are interested in metaverse experiences like sightseeing, art exhibits, and fitness classes if hotels provided VR headsets
  • 71% of UK travellers are interested in using automated messaging or chatbots for hotel customer service requests
  • 71% agree that they’re more likely to stay at a hotel that offers self-service technology to minimise contact with the staff and other guests
  • 58% are looking for contactless payment (only 2.51% want to pay in crypto)
  • 57% of UK travellers are very or somewhat interested in using the metaverse/VR to explore a hotel virtually before they book
  • 55% are willing to pay more to choose their view (from the room window)
  • 51% are willing to pay more to check in early/check-out late
  • 53% said on-demand entertainment access seamlessly connects to their streaming or gaming accounts and is their #1 must-have during their stay

And what do hoteliers think?

There is good news for travellers. Hoteliers are looking to adjust their experiences. In 2021 Oracle also published the hospitality benchmark report that found that 47% already have contactless experience for payments. This study found that 98% are investing in contactless technology. This is not just about payments. 76% are looking to introduce “a fully contactless experience”. It will likely be the most widely adopted tech in the industry in the next three years. Slightly contradicting this, the release also stated that 52% of hotel executives said an in-room entertainment set-up is what they’re most likely to implement by 2025. This addresses a number one demand for travellers.

There was another piece of good news for travellers in the UK. 84% of hotel executives say their hotels are likely or somewhat likely to adopt an ‘unbundled’ model for services in the near future. For travellers, they will only have to pay for services used. Hoteliers will be able to cross-sell and up-sell. Travellers beware, however. It isn’t clear what this model will look like, and it may mean that services they expect for free are no longer included and hotel stays will come with a base rate and micro (or larger) payments are required for certain amenities that historically they would expect.

It will also mean that hoteliers can collate more detailed information about their guests. In fact, 64% of travellers were happy with that data collection. It will enable hoteliers to leverage AI to tailor service offerings to travellers to help increase revenue. 88% of hoteliers expect a big service model shift between now and 2025.

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

This is undoubtedly an interesting report for Hoteliers. It is one that will highlight the importance and value of partnering with a technology partner that can offer the technology that hoteliers will need in the next few years.

What will be interesting is how they decide to invest. Some changes will require major investment; others can be implemented and covered by the staff savings that might be generated. There are some other benefits from the advances in technology not covered by the report as well. A shift from key cards to mobile phones will mean that travellers no longer wipe their cards as they place them next to the mobile device. This only applies to certain cards. For hotels that have the older, more susceptible, it is a change that they might see an ROI on sooner.


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