A study conducted by Expedia in July 2019 surveyed over 1,200 hoteliers to compare spending on technology between chain hotels and small independent properties. They found chain hotels nearly twice as willing to spend on tech investments as independents, with complexity of integration cited as the group’s foremost reservation about tech spending. Such properties favored directing funds to room renovations instead.

“We’re witnessing chain hotels place significant investments in technology, which opens the potential for a greater divide between properties that are not able to match those investments” observed Ait Voncke, senior vice president for Expedia Group.

Tech-Forward Benefits

Telecommunications company Mitel shared a list of top communication technology trends in hospitality, with overarching tendencies including mobile guest options, service automation, tech-enabled meetings spaces and “social listening”—engaging with platforms to monitor and interact with authentic guest feedback.

Streamlining simple services such as check-in for guests is a surefire way to increase satisfaction, provided tech is well-integrated and intuitive. The clear tool for centralizing guest experiences is, of course, the mobile phone, making a well-designed app prospective for everything from loyalty program access to keyless room entry.

With more options to customize your experience via your devices, free Wi-Fi is no longer a boon—sitewide, high-speed internet is an absolute requirement. Mitel listed expanding bandwidth capacity as a necessity to support everything from personal devices to multi-tool presentations.

On the same note, keen hoteliers are updating their offerings of communal, tech-integrated gathering areas. Guests want options to work, connect and meet outside of their rooms. Venues that offer stylish semi-private and communal spaces with updated tech capabilities and curated creature comforts to boot may be a requirement in the future.

Keeping the Humanity in Hospitality

Given the numerous advantages inherent in tech solutions, from simplifying operations to enhancing guest experience, does Expedia’s study spell trouble for independent hotels that aren’t investing in advancements?

Maybe, maybe not. Another Expedia study found a 72 percent likelihood that guests value hotels with high-rated guest reviews over brand, signaling that value and consumer ratings are still the first point of interception when booking. While guests may come to expect efficiencies such as digital check-in, friendly service and stellar upkeep are still the prevailing factors in positive reviews.

“In general, technology should be giving hoteliers more opportunities to be hoteliers and show their guests hospitality,” says Shayne Paddock, vice president of product development and innovation for TravelClick. At least for the present, technological additions are game-changers only to the extent that they boost capacity to focus on the interactions that matter most.