Guest expectations has always been the focus of industry leaders in hospitality and food service. Today, the hospitality consumer is tech savvy to an historically unprecedented degree. So, what elements, processes, and solutions will evolve or even become entirely obsolete in the near future in hotels, restaurants, and food services concepts to meet and exceed their expectations?
In no particular order, let’s take a look at a selection of 6.
1. Hotel front desk line-ups for check-ins and check-outs
The line-up to the front desk has been an unavoidable reality to weary travelers checking-in. A catalyst to mitigate and even remove this bottleneck in the process is mobile technology and the parallel development of literally millions of apps that are downloaded every day. Through mobile options for their guests, leading hotel chains including Marriott and IHG are making the traditional front desk line-up unnecessary.
This isn’t just about diversifying where the check-in and check-out happens. It’s also about the when, very often before the guest even hits the lobby. Mobile-based “room keys” go hand in hand with this process, making swipe cards and other formats unnecessary, too. The guest experience of going directly to the room without having to line up to check in and to check out in the same way becomes a given as the old paradigm disappears.
2. Necessary face-to-face ordering and payments
An important trend that’s driving the industry is guest empowerment to manage the order process themselves in their own time without necessary staff intervention. This means that line-ups to traditional staff-operated POS terminals as the single means to order and make payments are beginning to disappear as well.
Mobile ordering plays a significant role in this area. So does the growing presence of kiosk technology installed in restaurant locations, cafeterias, food courts, and other settings that allows guests to bypass the traditional POS terminal entirely.
3. Food order delivery as we know it
The success of applications like UberEats, Door Dash, GrubHub and others has wider implications when it comes to how food delivery will be managed in the near future. There are some negative effects of these models as well, with some third-party apps taking a debilitating chunk of the profits in exchange for their services. But what is clear is that the nature of food delivery is becoming more nuanced, with so-called “ghost kitchens” designed as delivery-only models offering a vision for a possible future as well.
Organizations and the industry as a whole will need to think about how they can apply the principles of convenient mobile-based food ordering applications while not detrimentally giving up profits to third parties.
4. Inflexible and disconnected menu management
Allowing customization of menu items is a part of the increasing emphasis on personalization of the hospitality industry overall. This has a bearing on the menu options open to a consumer at the ordering stage, ideally with substitutions and modifiers allowing guests to customize their orders being a matter of course.
Beyond that, the menu management process must also be about accurate reporting that allows organizations to manage menus based on the trends of what guests want and apply changes across all locations simultaneously. All of this must be efficient and cost-effective, and achieved within in a narrow window of time. That means inflexible and disconnected models for menu management with slower turnaround times that don’t support fast-changing guest behavior and preferences will have to disappear.
5. Limited payment options
The global payment landscape is expanding and new markets are emerging internationally for hospitality organizations. As travelers come to North American hospitality, food services, and restaurant locations, it is becoming more and more important for organizations to remove the barriers for visitors to make payments according to their native preferences, particularly as cash payments continue to be rivaled by digital payments globally.
This new and expanding payments arena that include mobile-based P2P payment options for guests like AliPay, WeChat Pay, and others will require hospitality organizations to offer a wider field of payment options. Companies will have to rethink their strategies and begin to build relationships with new partners to allow for a more seamless and welcoming payment experience for guests wherever those guests make transactions.
6. Closed data ecosystems
Historically, each hospitality location in a chain has been a walled garden of information that was disconnected from the whole. That presented a challenge to quickly connect the dots from one location to all the others. The same goes for disconnects between CRM, HMS, RMS, POS, and other systems and solutions within those same single locations.
With the increasing prominence of cloud technology, mobile applications, IoT, and a myriad of other technologies whereby data is collected and managed, that earlier model is fading out. The data-rich nature of the business demands that the walls between locations, systems, solutions, and even company org charts be eliminated in favor of a more holistic model that also places an emphasis on data security. Creating an accessible, visible, and open environment that more easily connects to strategy is the clearer road to staying competitive.
The only constant is change
Emerging technology and the culture developing around it continues to drive the evolving expectations of guests. Those same forces are driving change for industries, too. How flexible and scalable will a hospitality and food services technology platform be when demands for a better guest experience go beyond what’s currently in place?
Addressing that question now could be the deciding factor to success or failure as a new paradigm for hospitality and food services comes into being.
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