December is the time of year when experts across all industries come out and make their predictions for the next year. They look at trends and performance from the previous year, five years and decade, to make data-driven projections about the future, and depending on who these predictions come from, they can carry a lot of weight.
However, this year’s predictions will be like no other, just as many industry experts' predictions for 2020 were destined to be wrong by mid-March, how can we know anything about 2021? How do we go about making predictions in an uncertain future?
Times are still tough for hoteliers, and while certain parts of the hotel industry’s future are unpredictable, many of the themes that we saw emerge in 2020 will continue to be relevant in the new year. In this new normal of hotel operations, hoteliers need to focus on cost efficiencies, health and safety, and maintaining a happy and effective workforce even at reduced sizes; all while continuing to deliver on their guests’ expectations of service and hospitality.
Here at ALICE, we have three predictions for the hospitality industry in 2021:
Hoteliers will need to do more with less
Doing more with less can seem like a daunting task, but with the proper tools, focus, and streamlined task management, hotel employees are enabled to achieve much more than they are without.
Tools that empower staff to play multiple roles, will provide the best support for lean teams. In a housekeeping department, flexible user permissions will enable staff to quickly switch roles throughout a shift to go from supervisor, to manager, to room attendant depending on the workload, and whether or not they need to approve, inspect or clean rooms. Flexible user permissions are just one of many features that help teams get more done, with fewer staff members. (Need tips on how to evaluate which housekeeping software features will benefit your hotel most? Read our article!)
Hotel technology that makes each staff member’s work more impactful and efficient (quickly knowing where to go, what to do, and how to do it in a transparent way), frees them up to be hospitable and offer the guest experiences that guests have come to know and expect. Hotel technology that is user-friendly, and easy for staff to use will have the most impact.
Platform technology will also play a large role in helping teams do more with less. Technology trends show the adoption of platform technology across many industries, and hotels are no different. Reducing the need to buy multiple systems not only saves hotel brands and management teams money, but it also saves team members time trying to learn multiple digital technology systems.
In 2021, teams will have to do more with less, and the teams with the most user-friendly, robust, and streamlined technology systems will have the most success at providing the customer experience that hotel guests expect.
Contactless solutions will prevail
Contactless technology solutions will continue to thrive during a time when in-person, face to face, human interaction is not happening in the way that we know it (handshakes, hugs, or even close conversations are no longer the norm). Tools that enable staff to talk to each other, as well as engage digitally with guests will be essential for hotels in 2021.
At ALICE, we’ve seen an uptick in inquiries and requests for guest messaging software and it seems likely that it will continue into 2021. Messaging guests before, during and after their stay has proved a great way to engage and build trust with hotel guests. We’ve created guest messaging templates for hoteliers to use when reaching out to guests -- check them out!
The trends towards keyless entry and hotel room devices that allow the guest to interact with the property (tablets and voice controlled smart devices like Google and Alexa) will also likely continue to grow in popularity. Keyless entry can streamline the check in process, allowing guests to forgo physical keys and extended amounts of time in public spaces like the lobby.
Contactless solutions minimize physical touch points and face to face interactions.
Connectivity is key
Software that doesn’t play nice with others has been, and remains, an ongoing contributor to lower efficiency, added manual work, and a lack of transparency for the hotel industry. Hotel employees typically need multiple pieces of technology to run every single department of a hotel. Property management systems, accounting systems, operational software, channel management and guest-facing technology work best when they integrate with each other.
When times are good these things can sometimes be overlooked, but in a world where every dollar and every minute matters, this state of affairs should no longer be acceptable.
Open APIs and seamless integrations between currently siloed systems have been picking up steam, and we expect to be hearing a lot more about this in 2021. Dmitry’s Koltunov, ALICE’s CTO & Co-Founder works closely with the Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG) API Workgroup, building, growing and maintaining a registry of hotel technology partners.
Dmitry’s dedication and efforts to HTNG earned him a spot on the HTNG Advisory Council, which was announced in July. The need for good working partnerships between hotel technology providers are essential to connectivity between systems.