By Kunwar Gill*
The adoption of technology in hospitality is not a new phenomenon, but, in recent years we’ve definitely seen a vast acceleration, with more businesses implementing technology into their operations than ever before.
According to a 2020 Statista survey, over half of global travel and hospitality executives stated that “new technology to better serve customers and/or suppliers,” was a business priority.
The industry was already facing several challenges with rent inflation, staff turnover and profit margins often making headlines. However, after the unprecedented disruption of 2020, many realised that, in order to compete, technology was no longer an option but a necessity.
So what technology trends are appearing in the hospitality industry? And how can this technology help business owners overcome the challenges they face?
Technology trends in hospitality
Although contactless payments have been increasing in popularity for years, the pandemic cemented just how essential this payment method is. Customers are more readily abandoning cash, opting instead for contactless payments to reduce interactions.
Mobile Check-in and Chatbots
Mobile check-in hospitality tech is another trend that has become increasingly popular. It allows customers to have a frictionless, flexible experience when checking into a venue. Venues are able to screen travellers for contact tracing, while the addition of chatbots allows the ability to up-sell or promote certain amenities to travellers. Plus, similarly to contactless payments, those who feel uneasy about face-to-face interactions due to COVID will feel much more comfortable and welcome.
A report looking at New Zealand’s online food delivery industry found that three-quarters of consumers would rather stay in and order takeaways than dine at a restaurant. New Zealand boasts 14 different online ordering providers.
That’s almost more than Australia and Canada combined. Online ordering is here to stay, and restaurants that do not offer takeout options may struggle to compete in the upcoming years.
With fewer people eating in-store, a significant trend we’re seeing worldwide is the rise of ghost kitchens. Ghost kitchens are restaurants that operate on a delivery-only basis. Restaurateurs require less space with ghost kitchens, and in some cases, many brands can work simultaneously in the same rented space. This reduces the rent and operating costs substantially.
Gone are the days when hospitality businesses had to rely on outdated cash registers. Cloud POS systems act as the foundation for your restaurant, linking the front of house with back of house.
Merchants can access their business data from anywhere in the world, offering greater mobility for business owners. They’re also compatible with many app integrations. Business owners can streamline workflows by automating sales data to accounting platforms, employee scheduling systems and online ordering.
Believe it or not, we’re actually closer to seeing robots in the hospitality industry than you may think. The rise of robotics in restaurants and hotels has already been introduced into hospitality venues around the world. This year the Sergio’s Restaurant chain in Florida welcomed the Servi robot into one of their stores. Servi helps waiters and waitresses by using cameras and laser sensors to carry plates from the kitchen to table. ‘Rob’ the robot was introduced by MSC Cruise as the first-ever humanoid robot on sea. Rob speaks eight languages and can mix up signature cocktails and mocktails.
These robots can carry out several front-office tasks, and many businesses have trained robot cleaners, hosts and even concierges. Automation plays an essential role in the customer experience. Businesses benefit from improvements in speed, price and accuracy. Plus, robots could play a pivotal role in solving staffing shortages with employee turnover so high in hospitality.
- Kunwar Gill, is VP of Product and Hospitality at Epos Now. Epos Now is a leading cloud-based software and payments provider supporting over 45,000 retail and hospitality locations across 71 countries.