Interaction, Personalization, and Tech: The 3 Biggest Trends in the Hospitality Industry 2017

New food & hospitality entrepreneurs should be constantly researching and looking at current customer habits and trends that will bring them the best return on investment. Owners need to perform a tricky balancing act, managing human interaction, personalization and technology, to keep customers coming back for more.

So let’s take a peek at three big trends that are at the forefront of the industry.

Connecting with People Where They Are: Personalizing Customer Experiences through Mobile Technology

Smartphones, tablets and wearables are only gaining in popularity, making mobile the top new technology focus for food & hospitality. Businesses can now reap the benefits of customers using their Bluetooth enabled mobile devices on property by providing two-way communication with localized beacons.

During the HTNG North American Conference this past March, Atmosphere Research Group founder Henry Harteveldt said, “Mobile has produced a permanent sense of immediacy. It’s changing forever how our guests interact with us and how they expect us to interact with them.”

Retailers were at the front of the pack experimenting with the technology to track customer habits, and nowadays, big box retailers such as Target, Walmart and Macy’s have implemented beacon technology on their sales floors. Business Insider’s BI Intelligence projects that this technology could create $40 billion in retail sales in the United States.

Restaurants, airports and museums have successfully rolled out beacons, with hospitality slowly dipping their toes into the water to test if they can be used to add additional profits. For example, Marriott has placed beacons at 14 locations near spas, restaurants and bars, where they can send promotional messages to nearby guests about things like spa packages, drink specials or restaurant offerings.

Starwood Hotels are now using beacons in select hotel lobbies to provide seamless mobile check-in, send guest names to front of house staff and any prior booking details from their mobile bookings. It’s only a matter of time before other features will be integrated, such as wayfinding, local tourist attractions, partnerships with local vendors, room service and personal shopping experiences.

With New Technology Comes Risk: The Importance of Security

With the steady increase in online services that require both personal and financial data to be sent through the web, investment in data security is quickly becoming a top priority. This will always be a hotly contested subject in food & hospitality tech circles, as hackers and cyber attacks become a greater threat. “People’s attitudes toward security are totally changed, and this area is highly funded,” says Hotel Technology Next Generation CEO Mike Blake. (

According to the 2016 Lodging Technology study, payment and data security was the top priority for hotel spending at 62%, while guest room technology (56%), internet bandwidth (45%) and customer engagement (43%) were not far behind.

As new technologies like mobile room access to replace key cards emerge, guest privacy is a growing challenge that the industry must face head on. With more mobile and social channels broadcasting sensitive information, more and more money will be spent on intrusion detection and prevention.

Big Data, Big Profits: The Monetization of Big Data

With all of this new technology and the Internet of Things embedded into our culture, hoteliers and restaurateurs now have massive amounts of data from mobile bookings, PMS Systems, guest review sites and Google. What do you do with it all, and how does it convert into cash?

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Using this collection of hotel guest data to create a guest-centric culture can be even more effective than old school points systems at keeping loyal or repeat guests. Companies such as Cheerfy help the hospitality industry consolidate all of this information and make it more useable and actionable, ultimately delivering more remarkable guest experiences. Revenue and operations can use Cornell verified study data that shows the correlation between guest satisfaction and increases in financial performance of a property.

Mobile technology is exponentially increasing data inputs, and by 2020, Gartner Research firm predicts that 25 billion devices will be generating data about almost everything. Using this data effectively and prioritizing key data should be a focus for hospitality. These strategies will free up time for staff to focus on human interactions that make use of the data analysis effectively.

Where do we go from here? Hospitality and the connected customer

As technology and the Internet of Things have a growing impact on the bottom line of the business, it will be interesting to see how great a role these trends will play in 2017 and beyond. Which do you think will be the most impactful moving forward?

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