New technologies for the hospitality sector
Hospitality is a special case in the services sector because it combines a service (such as cooking, service, housekeeping) with a significant material input (ingredients, hotel building). Although the core of the service, i.e. accommodation or meals, cannot be replaced with virtual services, digitalisation has made inroads in recent years into many areas of the hospitality sector. One third of all hotel rooms is today booked online, and many guests check rating portals before they book a table, or they use their smartphones and order meals directly from a delivery service. However, the driving force and the beneficiaries of this trend are often not the restaurants and hotels themselves, but new providers who enter the space between guests and restaurants.
However, this is only the beginning: Today, guests in some restaurants can already use digital technologies in order to book a table and make their choice from the menu online even outside opening hours and, when leaving the restaurant, pay using their mobile phone. Kitchens are increasingly equipped with smart kitchen appliances which help to better manage and sometimes even automate the preparation of meals. Routine processes in hotels, such as checking in and out, can be largely automated and thereby significantly simplified by digital solutions.
Another important trend is big data, i.e. the collection and combination of data in order to generate new information on this basis. Big data can help hotel and restaurant owners, for instance, to deepen their knowledge of their guests and to better understand their needs and expectations. Knowing one’s guests also means that the right offer can be made at the right time and poor ratings avoided by offering the appropriate service.
Digitalisation can therefore help the hospitality sector to not only make its services for guests more customised, faster and convenient, but often even at a lower cost. Furthermore, digital channels create new opportunities to reduce dependency on booking portals and to communicate directly with (potential) customers.