Adversity often gives rise to innovation and the Covid-19 outbreak looks set to create a new attitude towards digital technology within the hospitality industry. It has fast tracked the need for future proof ways of adapting to life after Covid-19. Although there isn’t one approach that is the golden ticket to digital transformation success, there are ways to adapt quickly. Businesses across the world have implemented new technology and ideas in readiness for the recovery of the hospitality sector. Andy Stanford-Clark, the chief technology officer for IBM UK and Ireland says, ‘For everyone, technology is now being viewed as a source of real value, rather than simply as an enabler. The changes we are experiencing today are a preparation for the future.’
The digital transformation
Covid-19 has dragged industries, businesses and people kicking and screaming into the digital era, even the Queen is on Skype. Technology sits at the heart of any digital transformation, and we are starting to see innovative and creative ways the hospitality industry is responding. For example, the 1 Hotel chain is preparing for their reopening by adapting the guest experience to consider Covid-19. On arrival, luggage and belongings will be sanitised using UV technology and thermal imaging cameras will be in place to take temperature readings of all guests and visitors. There are also new features in their booking app including contactless services such as room key, concierge support, TV controls, food ordering and check out. There are also internet-enabled thermostats, which are used to automatically, and efficiently, adjust room temperatures.
New Technology trends
People are continuing to turn to Zoom to keep connected during the pandemic, and the hospitality industry is no exception. Bars are using Zoom for masterclasses helping to educate people at home and retain brand awareness at a time where people they are unable to open their bars and interact with customers in person. The follow on from this is the rise in cocktail delivery services, enabling you to experience your favourite cocktail in the comfort of your own home.
This is one of the most important emerging technology trends, and its uses within the hospitality industry are especially impressive. For instance, biometrics are being used to push a new age of seamless authentications, with payments being authenticated by touch. Travellers visiting the Marriott Hotel in China can already use a kiosk with facial recognition for check in. It scans the guest ID and the person, then the room key is issued in less than one minute.
Games, surgery, and flight simulators are the most well-known uses of virtual reality. However, recently, the world’s first Virtual Reality travel search and booking experience was created by Amadeus. This advanced technology could change the way the travel and hospitality industry interact with guests in the future.
Within the hospitality industry, there have been exciting experiments with ‘virtual food’ where you can taste and smell food through VR. This incredible technology uses electronics to emulate the taste and feel of the real thing. It sounds a little sci-fi, but this could add new sensory inputs to virtual reality or augment real-world dining experiences. This would also be ground-breaking for people with restricted diets or health issues that affect their ability to eat.
The rise of robots is no longer just science fiction. Robotics and artificial intelligence are infiltrating nearly every area of our lives, from self-serve checkouts in supermarkets to screening legal documents, robots are now working efficiently and economically, challenging our human counterparts. The latest tech trend to emerge has been the use of robots within the hospitality industry. Many companies are using robots for booking purposes, such as ‘Connie’ the concierge from the Hilton hotel chain who uses speech recognition and AI to respond to queries from customers and intelligently learn from interactions. And, robots in bars have been trialled on cruise ships to cater for the high demand. Whilst these new technologies have obvious efficiency advantages, people visit bars not just to drink, but for the whole ‘experience’ and the human interaction. The connection between the bartender and the customer is unique. They can anticipate customers’ needs unlike a robot and can create taste experiences and interactions that robots would struggle to emulate.
There is no shortage of advanced technology that will help businesses across the globe to thrive once again. Covid-19 has demonstrated the importance of digital readiness, and there are many ways new technology trends are enabling us to adapt to our ‘new normal’. Most notably, they can help rebuild a tougher, more resilient society, establishing a new way of living our everyday lives.
Global Bartending is at the height of innovation and technology within the drinks and hospitality industry. We are leading brands into new exciting ways of interacting with consumers, using the latest technology and sensory experiences. Don’t just take our word for it, check out our latest case studies.