Despite the industry’s general reluctance, technology now has a firm foothold within hotels and global travel.

Perhaps because hospitality is built upon human interaction and connection, small hoteliers have been slower than most in adopting new technology.

However, 78% of global hotel leaders believe it will be technology that has the biggest impact on the transformation of their business in the next five years.

The reality is that technology will help you provide the sought after people-to-people experience by making it easier to run your business in every aspect; from property management, to revenue management, and customer service.

Hotel technology will save you time and money, giving you the opportunity to nurture better relationships with your customers.

But with so much technology now saturating the market and new trends emerging every day, it’s hard to know what’s essential and what is a temporary fad.

To make things easier, we’ve singled out the seven most important technology trends you should be aware of now and into the future:

  1. Internet of Things – The IoT is based on giving everyday objects network connectivity. It involves facilitating communication between multiple devices, for example a heating system that can be controlled from your computer, TV, or phone. Wearable tech also comes into this discussion, with the steady growth of the Apple Watch and fitness trackers such as Fitbits. This is immediately applicable to the travel industry and your property. With smart technology on their wrist, guests could have the ability to check themselves in and get settled into their room without the need of a physical key or time-consuming check-in process. With technology only getting smarter and more efficient, the IoT will only expand further throughout 2017.
  2. Virtual Reality – Although predominantly used in gaming to immerse players in a virtual 3D world where they explore environments and interact with objects, virtual reality has also cemented a place within the travel industry in 2016. Hotels are using it to provide potential guests with holistic tours of their property so the traveler can make a more informed and comfortable purchasing decision. Virtual reality is forging ahead in leaps and bounds, so much so that guests now expect your accommodation to provide a tour on your website. This technology will only grow in the coming years.
  3. Artificial Intelligence – Just like virtual reality, artificial intelligence is receiving a lot of funding and research with huge progress soon to be made. It’s likely over the next few years people will have A.I as part of their everyday experience when making purchases, visiting attractions, or attending events. Hotels are already using chatbots and intelligent messenger apps to assist customers while others have installed robots to act as concierge’s, guides, and porters. While guests and hoteliers alike are quite split on their opinions of A.I, it’s a concept that is going to become much more prominent very soon.
  4. Tech Security – Protecting the personal information of your guests is by far one of the most serious concerns you should have at your property. Any breach can have dire consequences for you and your customers. Not only will you lose customers and suffer embarrassment in the short-term, the long-term effect on your reputation and potential loss of sales could cripple your business financially. For a small hotel or B&B, there may be no coming back from a fallout like that, so it will be common to see more people investing in security software systems.
  5. Cloud Technology – Cloud technology, like Little Hotelier, is the best way to keep things simple by organizing all your software tools and hotel processes into one centralized location. Using cloud software has the ability to significantly cut costs and save time. Not to mention, all data is constantly backed up for safekeeping. It’s a flexible system that only requires one installation and one login that anyone can be given access to if needed, and allows you to keep track of everything in real time. More hotels will continue to invest in cloud technology as they look to stay ahead of the curve.
  6. Increased Presence on Social Media – Travel and social media fit together perfectly as all customers like to share their trip experiences with family and friends back home. 76% of travelers say they share their photos on social networks while 52% of Facebook users say their friends photos inspire them to travel. It just makes sense that accommodation providers would be trying to increase the impact they have on social media. Here’s how social media can help your B&B get more bookings.
  7. Continued Rise of Mobile and Mobile Applications – More than half of travelers are now using their mobile to source information about hotels. Beyond this, over 20% are using their mobile to actually book their stay and many are doing so using a mobile app. Apps especially are the way forward within the travel industry and it will pay for hotels to cater to mobile users.

All of this technology has the potential to affect your business in a positive manner. It may provide new strategy opportunities, higher levels of customer engagement, better efficiency of operations, more bookings, and boosted revenue. Technology must be viewed as a competitive weapon.

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of Little Hotelier, the all-in-one software solution purpose-built to make the lives of small accommodation providers easier. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at Little Hotelier. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance, and, ultimately, value for small accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations (and live their life).