By Adam Mogelonsky, Larry Mogelonsky
Yes, there are lots of tech projects hotels have to undertake to bring their tech stacks forward to accommodate a more frictionless experience for guests. And yet, even then it’s important to keep one eye ahead to the technologies that will become important nearer to the end of this decade and into the 2030s. Of course, there are opportunities for brands that are the early adopters of these trends, but for the rest of you, this article is meant more for imagination in advance of any tech vendor demos or tradeshows where you can ask them about what’s in the near future for hospitality technology.
Before looking at specific use cases, know that ‘web3’ is today’s rebrand of the terms ‘blockchain’ and ‘cryptocurrencies’ after both of those got burned by the FTX, Celsius and other debacles. As we see it, though, web3 can also be a banner cry for metaverse or 3D world technologies because of how both of these fields are rising together and are interlinked in several fascinating ways.
The concept of ‘try before you buy comes into play here. The more a customer can interact with a product or service in advance, the more likely they are to make a purchase. Imagine creating a realistic digital replica of your wellness facilities that guests can explore through an online portal as part of the prearrival upselling process. This would enable them to take virtual tours of the spaces and even get a sneak peek of specific treatments. These digital twins could also seamlessly integrate with a tokenized loyalty or rewards program (more on this later).
From a management perspective, virtual renderings of wellness spaces can be invaluable when planning new construction or renovations. While drafting software for generating floorplans remains essential, digital twins significantly reduce costs by helping decision-makers visualize how the space will function. This streamlines the consensus-building process and minimizes the need for later corrections during development.
The growing demand for hotel wellness services has highlighted a unique challenge: the availability of skilled labor and practitioners. While many roles can be filled with passionate individuals who can be trained for the necessary skills, wellness-related positions often require highly specific expertise, leading to longer onboarding times and the need for continuing professional development (CPD) programs.
Incorporating advanced technology related to the metaverse can address this issue by shifting much of the training away from in-person sessions or job shadowing, allowing new hires to undergo virtual training at their convenience in a bite-sized learning environment. With the advancement and affordability of sensory hardware, AI and remote human-assisted guidance and testing for standard operating procedures (SOPs) are viable options in this regard, especially by having a library of Augmented Reality (AR) or Virtual Reality (VR) tutorials at the ready. Think cross-training amongst departments to incentivize team retention and the formation of onsite ‘utility players’.
Loyalty and Rewards
Skipping over a tutorial on how Web3 blockchains work, know that blockchain-based tokens promise several advantages for hotels, most notably the reduction in administrative overhead and the facilitation of point interoperability which in terms allows for secondary, market-driven exchanges for these reward points as an incentive.
The integration of wellness components within this context, namely the ability to generate more ancillary spend and catering to experiential travel. Tokenization allows guests to seamlessly convert between local currencies with proper itemization within different property management systems with different databasing standards. Think frictionless to bring in a buzz word. Furthermore, the strategic integration of third-party wellness enterprises, equipped with their own Web3 governance, holds the promise of unlocking cross-selling opportunities for your establishment among their clientele. The incorporation of wellness incentives also extends to the metaverse, where tokenization and NFTs present an efficient means of unique attribute administration.
Exercise & Physiotherapy
In the realm of mixed reality (MR) experiences aimed at guests, movement tracking and digital workouts have found a niche. This becomes relevant as wellness-focused travel, which involves staying active while traveling for various purposes, continues to grow. Given labor constraints, an efficient approach at scale involves offering on-demand exercise programs, either through the hotel app or via the in-room TV.
The next level above this would be to incorporate remote trainers (like what Peloton does) or AI guidance (although we aren’t quite there for this latter aspect in a D2C manner). Still, the differentiating factor for a hotel brand lies in providing access to highly skilled practitioners with expertise in various disciplines of physiotherapy and body alignment.
Metaverse technology can play a pivotal role in scenarios where a guest meets with a physiotherapist at one property within a brand then continues the relationship with a virtual reassessment from the same physiotherapist when visiting another property within the same brand. This may involve in-person assistance from a different practitioner, creating a hybrid and value-added experience. Furthermore, in the realm of hybrid experiences, this blend of AI and AR may find its feet in the realm of sports training.
Mixed Reality Experiences
To conclude, the primary challenge that hotels will encounter when striving to expand revenue sources, beyond simply increasing ADRs, is the availability of labor to expand service offerings. An effective approach involves combining existing teams with immediate access to tutorials or remote AR. This approach can be particularly beneficial for various wellness-oriented experiences such as cooking classes, aromatherapy, sound therapy (neuroacoustics) or guided mindfulness sessions.
While some of these examples may appear impractical in today’s context, the overarching idea is to demonstrate the wide array of possibilities and lucrative use cases, which in turn will incentivize vendors capable of turning these theoretical concepts into fully realized turnkey solutions. Thinking psychologically, exponential trends can be challenging for we humans to identify, especially when the principle of induced demand significantly alters current total addressable market (TAM) estimates. Hence, stay aware and understand that some Web3 action will be needed sooner rather than later.
This article may not be reproduced without the expressed permission of the authors.