February 12, 2019 · Stuart Butler
Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast: Episode 104 – 6 Game Changing Tech Trends in 2019
Guess what? It’s no longer the “Year of Mobile”. While it seems as if mobile has been the “trend for the past 5 years, I think it’s time to acknowledge the fact that mobile is the minimum ante to play these days. If you don’t have your mobile strategy figured out by now, you’re so far behind in terms of consumer expectations that you may be beyond help. Assuming you’re still with us, let’s discuss some of the real trends that you should be paying attention to in 2019.
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STAT OF THE WEEKffffff
20% of all Google searches are voice searches. Google predicts that this could reach 50% by 2021
Voice Search Goes Mainstream
We’ve done an entire episode on Voice Search and how your hotel can prepare for this oncoming Tsunami. (Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast: Episode 87 – Is Voice Search Finally Killing SEO?)
The bottom line is that how people interact with technology is fundamentally shifting. It won’t be long before we are living in a world where a combination of voice and an adaptive touch screen is the prefered method of controlling our computing devices.
Demand Increases For In-Room IoT Devices
As consumers become accustomed to smart home devices such as lights and thermostats, not to mention being able to set alarms and timers with their voice, or telling the tv what show you want to watch, it’s not hard to imagine what happens next. Just like Wi-Fi was once an optional luxury that rapidly become as much of an expected utility as running water, so will be the case with smart rooms. It will start simple with TVs that have Netflix or Amazon Prime, but it won’t be long before Alexa’s or Google Homes are in every hotel room.
More Hotels Will Test On-Property Guest Experience Technology
Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, right? That’s the idea, at least. Barely a day goes by before another property grabs headlines with some high-tech initiative that’s supposed to revolutionize the guest experience. We’ve now got self-serve kiosks, properties testing real-time translation devices, robots that do everything from delivering room service and carrying luggage, to actually talking to guests and checking them in.
Our advice is to start simple with things like a mobile app for express check-in, or a chatbot that actually helps answer the guests questions. Be sure to think through the entire journey from the guest’s perspective and be sure that your staff are trained and know how to manage the knew technology appropriately.
This trend of testing new guest experience technology will no doubt intensify, but there’s a cautionary tale. A Japanese property just laid off half of it’s automated workforce because it was causing more problems than it solved: https://www.hotelmanagement.net/tech/japan-s-henn-na-hotel-fires-half-its-robot-workforce
AI Powered MarTech and Operations Software Makes Us All Smarter
Despite not being a fan of the portmanteau “MarTech”, it’s the best word we have to sum up a category of software suppliers that perform an important role in the hospitality industry. Many suppliers, including Fuel Travel, are investing heavily in Machine Learning tools that augment marketers and Revenue Managers to enable them to make smarter decisions and outperform their competitors. At Fuel, we’re using AI to help improve personalization within our Fuel CRM product. This is allowing us to target guests on an individual level with the precise content on the device of choice at the optimal time. Early testing shows this having a tremendous impact on revenue and guests are the ones benefiting. Bur Fuel isn’t leading the charge on our own, there are vendors in every one of these categories that are actively leveraging AI to make their products do things that weren’t possible a year ago:
- REVENUE OPTIMIZATION
- BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE
- CHANNEL DISTRIBUTION
- DATA SYNCHRONIZATION
- ONLINE REPUTATION
- GUEST ADVOCACY
- CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS
- ATTRIBUTION MODELLING
- VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS & CHATBOTS
VR/AR Begins To Show Niche Promise
It seems like folks have been speaking about Virtual and Augmented Reality for almost as long as they have been talking about mobile. The real reality is that neither VR or AR has made a meaningful impact on travel. Don’t count them out just yet though. There seems to be a push towards these technologies being able to solve unique problems and serve a real purpose. While it’s unlikely that the average consumer is going to strap on a VR headset and walk through a hotel before making a booking for this year’s vacation, there’s a real possibility that group sales could provide prospects with a better taste of what their specific event will actually look like, How cool would it be as an event planner if you could not only see the set up for your conference, but that the setup also included your logos and your colors. That small touch could be what seals the deal.
Another real application of AR is Wayfinding. Several startups are embarking on creating resellable solutions in this space.
There are also startups doing more novel things such as virtually controlled drones, enabling prospective guests to fly around and view the property before they visit. While this may be more of a gimmick, early adopters will no doubt benefit from the PR buzz that such an offering will creat.
Internal Infrastructure Overhauls Begin
The hospitality industry isn’t famous for it’s cutting edge approach to technology. Looking at some of the largest players in the industry, they are stuck on legacy systems that are antiquated and cumbersome. Many of these systems have grown organically over the past few decades, making them hard to modify and harder to replace. In our 2018 Tech Study, the industry overwhelmingly indicated that ‘a lack of integration’ was the biggest tech challenge that we faced. 2019 is the year when we are finally in a position to start fixing that problem. The fact that there’s a lot of compliance pressure regarding security, accessibility and privacy is going to help push this along. Given that companies are going to have to invest heavily in infrastructure anyway, they may as well do it the right way. That’s why we’re beginning to see both hoteliers and vendors move to the cloud, with Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud leading the pack This is a long overdue but much welcomed shift as it will make systems more scalable and will breed moe innovation as large organizations will be freed up to make more rapid change
So, there you have it 6 technology trends that are shaping up to change the way things are done. These trends will impact you to varying degrees depending on your organization’s size, but you should pay attention to all of them nonetheless. As a society, many people believe that AI, especially, is going to be more disruptive than the internet itself. Are You ready?
SNEAK PEEK AT 2020 Trends:
- 5G Will DELIVER STUPID FAST CONNECTIVITY
- QUANTUM COMPUTING MAY BREAK EVERYTHIN
In The Newsaroos:
Disney Minimizing Marketing Dollars Toward New Star Wars Land:
English People Putting An End to “Only One Room Left”
Submit your questions and topic ideas on Twitter to @_travelboom.