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Latest Trends in Hospitality Industry - Summer 2023

3 key takeaways for busy readers

  • AI & Digital Evolution: AI is revolutionizing hospitality with innovations like holograms, while digital advancements offer personalized guest experiences.
  • Security in Digitalization: As hospitality embraces digital solutions, from tipping to room personalization, prioritizing cybersecurity is crucial.
  • Investing in the Future: Combat data silos by choosing long-lasting tech solutions, and stay updated on industry trends through resources like the Modern Hotelier podcast.

Summer always delivers a fun mix of hospitality conferences in North America. Traveling from ILC’s INDIE Confab - Denver in May to HITEC in Toronto in late June on to  ILC INDIE Cultivate - NYC in July, and finally STR’s annual HDC in Nashville this August, I gained tremendous insight into what’s going to drive success in hospitality and what you should consider to be as successful as possible. 

Part One brings focus to some newer trends and ways to consider thinking about what adoption means for you. And upcoming in Part Two, I’ll focus more on statistically how group travel is changing, and what you should consider adjusting related to your strategies.

#1 AI is here to stay - consider how best to adopt it into your business


AI can benefit hospitality in many ways, and it comes down to thinking about how to make yourself and your business more efficient with it, not replaced by it. 


While attending ILC in NYC, we were invited to Google’s Pier 57 Office. (Side note - this building houses a massive amount of public and private space, including a ‘living room’ that is over 74,000 SF, and many bookable rooms and space, making this building similar to large hotels in certain ways - so much so that they employ a GM who manages the building and events.)


During the stop at Google, we discussed the value AI can bring to marketing. As a marketer, using AI effectively can take your idea from concept to reality quickly, now allowing your time and focus to be applied to what AI cannot offer - your unique creativity. If you aren’t using AI to help you become more efficient, the next marketer is, so don’t leave yourself behind. Instead, test new ideas and own the application of your originality. 


On a completely different AI spectrum - holograms are coming! With staff shortages impacting over 80% of hotels and the rise of flex accommodations, holograms have a place in hospitality. I first saw them in person at HITEC this year showcased by Holoconnect. While holograms offer the feeling that we may be entering the matrix, VR is also here to stay. It can serve very effective purposes that help properties offer value to their guests through humanized experiences, without suffering the challenge of needing humans to facilitate when they can divide and conquer. 


These are merely two examples of the AI that was present at these conferences, but they gave me a new excitement for how it will support our industry. 

#2: Digitalizing to match consumer behavior will require a side of security


There are many forms of ‘digitalization’ happening and it has been happening for decades. While continuing to watch it evolve, I also believe it has taken on so many new meanings in how to use to benefit different industries, and most often consumers have been the ones to reap the benefits first. 


Tipping is part of the hospitality industry, but fewer and fewer people are carrying cash these days. Apps used to order food online or for rideshares, where you pay for these services digitally, have baked in ways to tip for the services provided to you, and we are accustomed to them. But what happens when it comes to the cash exchanged tip most common while staying at a property? 


The CEO of Highgate Hotels, Arash Azarbarzin, was interviewed on a panel at ILC - NYC and mentioned that they are debuting digital tipping platforms with a few of their properties. 


As a consumer, I find this very valuable, as I want to tip in the proper ways when traveling. Room service and holding your baggage are two I fully support on property, but sometimes I’m low on cash or only have large bills and digital tipping resolves these issues and allows me to be able to show my support for services I value. 


Digitalization is used on property to make your guests feel at home. This is being done by leveraging the value within personalization, but does it come with an added complexity?


Digital signage has been around for decades, but taking digital personalization into the room allows guests to have a more ‘at home’ experience while away. Every new option is presented at HITEC, from Samsung and LG showcasing personalization through tablets, TVs, and more, to companies selling new door locking systems, like Dormakaba who sponsored my key for my hotel at HITEC. There are many forms of digitalized personalization on the market today. What’s most important here for adoption is that hotels will need to consider the security investment these new offerings introduce. 


70% of guests don’t believe that hotels invest enough in cybersecurity protection. It’s an acknowledged concern and one much discussed at HITEC 2023. 56% of hospitality IT leaders name cyber security as one of their top-three business concerns.”


Ensure you are selecting the right technology partners putting security at the forefront of their offerings, so you can ensure your property remains secure and competitive in the most appealing ways. 


#3: The Time is Now: Invest in technology today that can withstand tomorrow 


Data silos and disparate systems have been the existence of hospitality for far too long. They are a consistent discussion topic in the industry, but with the rate at which technology is advancing, and security is required, the time is now to invest and ensure you have the right solutions in place to run your business. 


According to a HTR 2022 survey, 80% of hoteliers said technology makes them more efficient. But is this efficiency benefitting the entire organization or just a part? How can you ensure you’re selecting the right technology? 


At HITEC during the session ‘Bridging the Gap Between Legacy and Cutting-Edge Technology,” speakers Gina Johnston, Leonel Domingues, and Matt Schwartz shared advice on how to make smart decisions when it comes to deploying new solutions meant to set you up for the future. They emphasized the importance of understanding the costs of staying up to date with a system paired with its ROI will show you the TOC (total cost of ownership). This helps you determine if the technology you’re looking to invest in has staying power. 


Knowing why your technology partner is in business, who their partners are, the significance they put on security, and how they partner with their customers to continue to deliver future value, are just some of the additional indicators to help you pick the right solutions. 


Whether or not you had a chance to attend these shows, my hope is sharing perspectives will offer you new ways to consider how these trends are transforming the hospitality industry. Until Part Two, I’ll leave you with an episode from one of my favorite industry podcasts. My friends at Modern Hotelier interviewed attendees live from the Hockey Hall of Fame at  HITEC, check it out!

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