Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence – The next game changer in the Hospitality Industry
Nasir Shaikh Group Chief Executive Officer - The Lexicon Group of Institutes, MultiFit and EduCrack Advancement in technology has been a boon for millions across the world, whether by improving access to education or contributing to refinements
Group Chief Executive Officer – The Lexicon Group of Institutes, MultiFit and EduCrack
Advancement in technology has been a boon for millions across the world, whether by improving access to education or contributing to refinements in medicine. It has changed the way individuals interact with each other, allowing the formation of communities with individuals living hundreds of miles from each other to share their thoughts, exchange knowledge and communicate seamlessly, all without even moving out of their homes. Technology has influenced or ameliorated almost every aspect of our lives, from the food we consume to our homes, our work, and even our health. Other than our personal lives, today, technology is at the heart of every industry, creating value, boosting ease of access, enhancing experiences, and improving the overall quality and quantity of services.
Curiosity is one of our basic instincts as humans. We desire to explore our surroundings, to know more about the Why, How, What, Where, and When of the world to grow and evolve with our experiences. Technology helps us do just that, discover everything the world has to offer and satisfy our thirst for knowledge. Travelling, whether for business or pleasure, is one of the ways we explore our surroundings and gain experience. The global hotels and tourism industry is vast. According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourism saw a 182% year-on-year increase in January-March 2022, with destinations worldwide welcoming an estimated 117 million international arrivals compared to 41 million in Q1 2021. Of the extra 76 million international arrivals for the first three months, about 47 million were recorded in March, showing that the recovery is gathering pace.
Unlike other industries, the Tourism and Hotels industry comprises numerous businesses, each with unique offerings like accommodation, food, beverage, transport, attractions etc. Post the pandemic, all the sectors of the Hotel and Tourism industry have welcomed and focused on infrastructural overhaul with digitization and invested heavily in the integration of new-age technology to prevent future disruption of the same magnitude as the COVID-19 pandemic while also working to evolve with the times. Working on the principle of ‘Less is More’, hotels across the world are implementing sustainable practices of going paperless by digitizing everyday activities like check-in, check-out formalities, digital or online menus, and elimination of single-use plastic by using glass bottles, eco-friendly packaging of toiletries etc. The industry is also significantly emphasizing reduced human contact by employing contactless payments systems, keyless door technology whereby the guests can use their smart phones to enter their rooms and eliminating the use of key cards etc. The use of robots for in-room cleaning and sanitization is also another significant addition to modern-day hotels, along with Smart-Rooms that use voice assistants to control the thermostat, lighting, wake-up calls, television etc. These measures not only create an exceptional guest experience but also add to the energy efficiency of the hotels.
During this rapid advancement in technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has come to the forefront as a fantastic tool to understand guest requirements, tailor services and deliver personalized experiences to guests. Artificial Intelligence is being utilized by businesses to forecast demands based on past preferences and data analytics and make data-driven decisions to ensure smooth operations and adequate preparedness to serve their customers. AI also assists in speedy resolution of the customers’ queries and requests, adding to ease of operations and improved efficiency. The demand for personalization has grown in leaps and bounds in the last few years. With it directly influencing the overall customer experience,
Personalization has become a priority to ensure positive feedback and guest satisfaction. Businesses in the hotels and tourism industry endeavour to deliver personalized experiences across various touchpoints by utilizing virtual assistants, chat boxes, and tailoring options to enhance guest experiences for reservations, bookings, accommodation, housekeeping, and concierge etc. For example, the launch of concierge applications allows guests to curate their entire stay, including travel, food, and accommodation, using their mobile phones. Such use of technology boosts vital parameters of customer experience and helps achieve excellence in service quality.
The demand for an ‘immersive experience’ is a fast-emerging trend in the hospitality and tourism industry. Offering immersive experiences to guests allows businesses to add to their unique value proposition. From warm sunsets to dark and mysterious rainforests, immersive experiences use technology to elevate and customize your experiences to match your taste. Virtual and Augmented Reality are the technologies used by various businesses and at locations of public attractions in the hospitality and tourism industry like hotels, restaurants, adventure resorts, and even museums and heritage sites. Offering guests 360 degrees view of the rooms, a peek into the ambience of the dining options, and even glimpses of the local attractions, virtual reality and augmented reality both make for unique, engaging and fun experiences for travellers or guests alike. VR/AR have also emerged as a great tool for curating immersive cultural and heritage experiences for the guests. Especially in a country as rich in culture and diversity as India, tools like audio and video guides using VR not only make for memorable but also exceptional experiences desired by every visitor. Technology in the world of hospitality and tourism holds a vital place and will continue to grow and thrive in the future.