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January 3, 2019

Four new advances that are revolutionizing the hospitality industry

Technology has become the driving force behind many industries over the past decade. As technology innovations continue to transform every industry in the United States, the hospitality industry is certainly no exception. Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms and point-of-sale (POS) tools are examples of ways the industry has transformed from the days of handwritten thank-you notes and simple cash registers. Today’s mobile payments and cloud-based technology are examples of the dramatic changes technology has brought to the hospitality industry. Here are 4 technologies poised to impact the hospitality industry.

1. Biometric authentication

Improving the guest experience is an ongoing initiative for most hospitality businesses. One key technology that is consistently improving and finding applications within the hospitality industry is biometrics. Facial recognition has been valid for some time now; within a hospitality context, seamless processes where authentication can be achieved without a phone, wallet or digital device are becoming a reality. Technology is being developed that will enable diners to leave right after a restaurant meal with the confidence that their bill was paid automatically based on facial recognition, without the need for someone to process the bill and take the payment or pay terminal interaction.

2. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Gartner, Inc. predicts that, by 2022, 1 in 5 workers will rely on AI to do many of the routine tasks associated with their jobs. Natural voice processing and machine learning have advanced enough to truly interpret questions and deliver intelligent answers. Custom voice programs are getting smarter and more intuitive. AI virtual assistants will be programmed to handle everyday, mundane tasks, thereby allowing humans to dedicate more of their time to meaningful customer service interactions and handling more complex issues for guests.

3. Augmented reality (AR)

Augmented reality will be adopted by the hospitality industry more frequently in the near future. For example, AR-powered signs can help route customers to specific locations, including check-in or pickup points. Some hotels are using AR to make the hotel experience more compelling. Holiday Inn has devised an AR experience related to the Olympics that enables guests to view realistic, virtual representations of sports celebrities by using their smartphones.

Restaurants are getting in on the action. Restaurant chain Bareburger recently ran a Snapchat contest that offered free food to people who posted stories about their Bareburger experience. The restaurant chain also used an AR filter to allow customers to access menu items in detail.

4. Off-the-grid hospitality

Ironically, as more and more technologies are put in place, the concept of “tech detoxing” is gaining popularity. Some hotel chains are offering guests incentives to give up their devices during their “off-the-grid” stay. The concept is that guests will then be better able to relax and enjoy the amenities offered by the establishment and will utilize more hotel services. Customers report that “unplugging” is helping them have a more relaxing and fulfilling experience.

While these and many other exciting technologies are being developed with applications in the hospitality industry, concerns about cybersecurity and privacy continue to plague many industries that are experiencing digital transformation. Cybersecurity is an increasing fear reported by consumers that will need to be addressed as new technologies are rolled out. The future of hospitality will accommodate more advanced, efficient technologies while, at the same time, support human interactions that serve both customers and businesses alike.

Today’s hospitality organizations face a wide range of challenges, from data breaches to Affordable Care Act penalties and more. The experts at March & McLennan Agency (MMA) understand these challenges and are here to help members of the hospitality industry mitigate their risks while enjoying smart and cost-effective insurance programs.

Contact us today to learn more.