Vikas Suri, Senior Associate Vice President, Lords Hotels & Resorts
Internet has always influenced the way we work socialise and travel our decision are highly influenced by what we read Hospitality industry has gone through radical changes in last 5 years with the advent of newer technology.
The ease of communication and transparency in information is the premise on which the internet has flourished. It has become an inevitable “go to” place for any and every kind of information that is accessible to the public. The internet has woven itself in the guest life cycle from pre check-in to post check-out at hotels or the destinations that they visit. Searching for destinations, travel and stay options online is almost a default practice today and which is one of the most important reasons contributing to the surge in traveling. The internet has caught the imagination of the masses. Because of its interactive platform and capability to offer personalised itineraries, the traveller feels engaged and compelled to execute their dream travel plans.
“Internet has build an open community of travellers and industry people among others which has led to more engaged and more vibrant tourism and hospitality culture across the world”
Today much of any travel and accommodation arrangements, unlike a decade ago when they were made through an agency, can be entirely made online. Hotel bookings are now routinely made online by a majority of tourists and with the option to pay at the time of check-in, it has offered a favourable proposition for the customer. Internet has made communication and offers more personal to the consumer depending on the consumer’s demographics.
The structuring and the method of sales too have witnessed a paradigm shift from the previous standard rate cards to customization by choice. Even different travel agents offered very limited choices and everyone travelled and stayed with the choice provided by the agency. However, the internet has opened up a whole new world of possibilities which allows travellers to make a choice that is based on reviews posted by fellow travellers, best experiences, price matching, and exploring options. It allows tourists to map out their travel itinerary and plan hopping trips that cover multiple locations. This especially has made travel a lot more convenient and fun for international tourists.
Previously international tourists only had a single option provided by inbound travel agents. But today tourists can practically travel anywhere in the world with the complete information and plans right from the comforts of their homes. The customer involvement during the life cycle of a travel plan has also changed with the introduction of internet. It has kept travellers more engaged with dream destinations, exploration choices and unique offerings. Travellers today are constantly reviewing everything and sharing it with the world on social media. This has also helped build an open community of travellers and industry people among others which has led to more engaged and more vibrant tourism and hospitality culture across the world. Promotional activities too have undergone a massive change with online promotions being preferred over offline promotions. Tools like HD videos, 360 Degrees photos, experience sharing via pictures and blogs, brochures, presentations, pop-up displays and so on are the norm today and are much more effective in influencing the audiences.
Internet - The Game Changer in the Hospitality Industry
The internet has given us the freedom and confidence to connect with over 400 million active mobile internet users across the country. This has had an unprecedented effect on the way businesses operate today. The entire room booking system whether for accommodation or travel has become so easy, convenient and transparent that travellers have the choice in their hands. Internet has made competition healthier and bigger.
Room service and on-site restaurants also are vulnerable to technology influences. Apps allow for easy food delivery and pickup, will eliminate the need for room service, The guest can even view the actual dish image, details of ingredients and nutritional value on it app before ordering a drink or a meal. Technology even is in place for guests to purchase goods through automated vending machines or other self-service cases that allow the use of a smart phone or room card to charge items to a room.
Another area where technology is affecting the guest experience is with in-room entertainment. With television available on demand, guests can simply sign into their streaming services for customized programming during their stay.
Also on the cutting board are 'Do not disturb' signs, along with infrared and heat sensing scanners that will tell hotel staff when a guest is in the room, thereby avoiding potentially uncomfortable encounters.
The customization of the room experience will continue to expand. Already technologies are being implemented to set a desired room temperature before a guest arrives. The same network can be used to set up lighting levels or even preferred colour of light.
Soon we will be able to pre-determine the color of our rooms, the ambient scent, the light level, and our preferred sounds. All this-and more-will be preset before guests even enter their hotel rooms.
The next big thing expected to hit our hotel industry would be robots sooner or later where in they can be effectively utilised to deliver a meal or a housekeeping request.
Social media will continue to influence where we book our next stay. Reputation management for hotel is must were on time revert to the comments, Mico analysis of the comment leading to higher NPS (net promotor score) would be the key for successful business generation.