How the hospitality industry is shifting from touch-heavy to touch-free.
By John Smallwood, President of Travel Outlook
There’s no doubt about it, travel has returned and is stronger than ever in 2023. Despite things returning to normal in many ways, the landscape of travel and the hospitality industry has hit an inflection point.
Thanks to technological advancements in the last half-decade, and the push for a contactless solution in the last few years, the hospitality industry has shifted from touch heavy to touch-free.
In an ever-changing industry, it’s time for hoteliers to embrace change, technological advancement, and a newfound efficiency that the world has grown accustomed to.
How the labor shortage has pushed the industry toward contactless solutions
After contactless check-in and other technology-infused aspects of the pandemic service were put into practice in the hospitality industry, the labor shortage began. During the height of the ongoing labor shortage, hotels had to choose where to focus their remaining staff.
Hotels that didn’t utilize call centers or technological tools to aid their reservation departments, were often forced to sacrifice reservation staff to the front desk and vice-versa to keep up with day-to-day operations. As a result, hotels embraced more technology and touchless solutions.
What customers want and expect while traveling in 2023 and beyond
According to a study entitled “Hospitality in 2025: Automated, Intelligent… and More Personal” by Oracle Hospitality in partnership with Skift, 73% of travelers want to use their smartphones to manage their stay, from booking and check-in to room selection, checkout, and beyond. The same study revealed that travelers now expect hospitality on their own terms and the ability to personalize nearly every aspect of their stay, including individual room selection, choosing amenities, and more.
In the same study, according to Oracle, almost 40% of hoteliers see this as the clear path forward in the hospitality industry. Many travelers went as far as to say that they wanted a self-service model where staff is only available upon request, rather than being directly involved in guests’ stay. Room service through chatbots and or by phone with contactless delivery, touch-free check-in, and contactless payment are going to be the new normal.
The best path forward
The Oracle Study was illuminating for those in the travel world. With 73% of surveyed travelers stating that they’re more likely to stay at a hotel that offers some sort of self-service technology that helps them minimize contact with the staff and other guests, it’s clear there’s only one path forward.
According to Travel Outlook’s Senior Sales Executive, Judy Cassidy, “While we are all glad to welcome travelers back to our businesses, at these volumes, it’s easy for staff to be overwhelmed. When the Front Desk staff is overly occupied with the demands of current guests, the reservation lines may be ignored. When the reservation lines are ringing non-stop, current guests won’t receive the quality of service they deserve from the front desk. The result is lost revenue and poor reviews.”
That’s where Annette™, the hospitality industry’s leading virtual hotel agent, comes into play. Annette is an AI-powered virtual agent that can answer hundreds of FAQs, speak numerous languages, and be programmed with your hotel’s very own voice talent. When guests call and Annette answers, they don’t hear a robotic voice bot, they hear a friendly conversational tone that can direct calls, answer questions, and even send follow-up texts.”
Annette offers hotels the best of both worlds, advanced tech to increase efficiency without sacrificing a personal touch. She allows front desk staff to do the more robust, human-centric needs, while she handles the reservation lines.
As labor shortages remain a clear and present issue in the hospitality industry, hoteliers must embrace the wave of change and utilize technology and the newfound efficiency that comes with it. Hotels must adopt these new methods and begin the journey towards a more efficient – and profitable – guest stay.
Powered by the latest Artificial Intelligence technology, Annette revolutionizes the way hotels operate, carrying the industry into the future. Learn more about Annette and find out how an AI-powered virtual hotel call center agent can improve your hotel’s voice channel while saving on fixed labor costs.