Hospitality In The Digital Era - Cognizant

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The Road to 2025Hospitality in theDigital EraAcross-the-board transformation is disrupting thehospitality industry. Here’s how organizations canprepare for a future of chatbot services, expandedloyalty ecosystems, staff-less lobbies and tech-drivenguest experiences, while facing new competition fromnontraditional contenders.June 2017

The Road to 2025Executive SummaryThe way we purchase and consume hospitality services ischanging dramatically as the lodging industry transforms itsofferings, products, services and infrastructure to meet theneeds of the digital age.By 2025, many technologies that are just emerging today will have moved into mainstreamoperation. Robotic process automation (RPA), for example, will disrupt hotels’ bookingand loyalty processes in positive ways. Chatbot services will integrate with booking andpurchasing, forming a new notification channel for guests. Biometrics will keep us moresecure, robots will bring us breakfast, and drones will deliver us hamburgers.Loyalty and streamlined rewards redemption will be another key focus. Hotels will activelypartner with other providers as they expand their role in the travel experience, leading toloyalty networks among hotels, airlines, restaurants and retailers.As technology reinvents every stop on the travel journey, the on-site experience is noexception. Guests’ growing comfort with technology is driving several disruptive trends.Staff-less hotels will appeal to independent-minded travelers – and slash human resourceand operating-related costs. Guest acceptance of tech-enabled hotel lobbies will greenlight hospitality companies’ big bet on the Internet of Things (IoT).2/Hospitality in the Digital Era

The Road to 2025Look for experience-based guest services to become the hallmark of hotel offerings in2025. The more memorable the hotel experience, the better. The brands we frequentwill gain ever sharper insights and be able to anticipate customer needs. Consumer- andbusiness- driven tech-enabled shifts are only part of the 2025 scenario for hotels. Otherchallenges include rapid transformation of the business, the complexity of large franchiseownership bases and the high-turnover labor environment.This white paper identifies the changing dynamics of hospitality, including the expectedboom in Chinese outbound travel. We also examine the advent of new segments, such asdriverless cars and their expected impact on hospitality. We conclude with guidance forhow hospitality providers can assess their readiness: Invest in getting to know their guests. Evaluate labor innovations. Leverage information as an asset. Determine IoT readiness.While the most successful hotels know how to nurturetravelers’ dreams, the stakes in 2025 will have grown evenhigher as digital convenience and options continue toevolve along with mainstream consumer expectations.Hospitality in the Digital Era/3

The Road to 2025Inspiration: change starts at the beginningThe hospitality industry has always excelled at sparking travelers’imaginations. Today, however, digital intermediaries have encroachedon hospitality providers’ traditional territory, grabbing a significantpercentage of the industry’s revenues. Every time a customer isinspired to book through a provider’s proprietary channel rather thanan intermediary’s, it results in savings of up to 20%.In a world cluttered with options and intermediaries, inspiration has become an increasingly important toolfor retaining market share and revenue. We can only image where Priceline will be in 2025. Will Amazon beselling hotel rooms?While the most successful hotels know how to nurture travelers’ dreams, the stakes in 2025 will have growneven higher as digital convenience and options continue to evolve along with mainstream consumerexpectations. The inspiration that converts views into purchases will include a mix of experiences thatappeal to travelers by blending technologies that enable hyper-personalization.Dazzling, “you-are-there” imagery will fill content and programmatic advertising. For example, imagineinviting environmentally aware, tech-savvy millennial travelers to view content that includes a virtual tour ofa hotel chain’s “green” resort in Bali.Even more persuasive will be experiences driven by virtual reality. For tech-savvy consumers, exploringa prospective hotel room through a virtual reality (VR) headset is a far more compelling sales pitch thanbrowsing a static image. While VR is relatively new, leaders in the hotel space are already experimenting tounderstand best use cases.Marriot Hotels launched VR Postcards, a series of immersive travel stories that guests view in 3-D on1Samsung Gear VR headsets. UK travel agency Thomas Cook created a video that lets UK and Germancustomers experience New York City through VR. The “Try Before You Fly” campaign boosted excursions2to New York by 190%, and generated a 40% ROI for the travel agency.Backed by VR and personalization, inspiration will be more fluid in 2025, finding its way to entertaining inroom experiences such as VR-assisted sports or other activities. Customized experiences will be the rule,not the exception. Powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and automated processes, personalized offers willbe at the heart of inspiration.Booking with a provider or an intermediary will be the moment of truth: In hotels’ struggle for ownership ofthe customer relationship, the ability to inspire customers and prospects of all demographics to book withthem, via the preferred channel, will be a core survival skill. To attract the lucrative Chinese travel market, forexample, providers will need to be able to inspire them (see Quick Take, next page).4/Hospitality in the Digital Era

Quick TakeHow hotels can attractChinese outbound travelersA seismic shift is under way in the demographics of international travel. The boom in China’s economy and soaringdisposable income has given rise to the Chinese luxury traveler. Here’s a close-up look at how hotels will need tocater to this sought-after market.By 2025, more than 220 million outbound travelers from the world’s most populous country will be globetrotting.3The young and affluent are predicted to spend 35 billion in the U.S., according to research by Goldman Sachs.To serve this market segment, major hotel chains must do the following: Create personalized travel programs. Features that attract and retain outbound Chinese travelers includemulti-lingual, customer-facing mobile apps and brand websites that support Chinese languages. Chinesespeaking concierge services will be a must. Young luxury travelers are a tech-savvy market segment. They favorservices such as high-speed Wi-Fi, interactive digital concierge services and digital entertainment updatedwith the latest Chinese content. Organizations will need a digital infrastructure to support these demands. Gain the high ground with social media marketing. China’s young luxury travelers rely on WeChat as theirprimary source of travel information, along with other popular travel sites such as Ctrip and Qunar.4 With socialmedia predicted to serve as the source for 90% of travel inspiration and information by 2025, connecting withChinese social media sites is a key move for hotels. Marriott Rewards has teamed with DaoDao, TripAdvisor’s5official Chinese website, to provide search capabilities through the hotelier’s WeChat platform. Anticipate consolidation in China’s domestic market. The sizable presence of major global hotel chains in theChinese hospitality market will likely lead to market consolidation, with small regional players being taken over6by the global giants. Hotel chains are investing heavily to capture the market. InterContinental Hotels Groupintroduced HUALUXE Hotels and Resorts, an upscale brand. It also launched an employee-training program to7enhance the outbound travel experience for Chinese guests. Hilton Worldwide’s Huanying program featuresa concierge app that allows Chinese-speaking guests to order room service in their own language – and thentranslates the order into English for the hotel staff.8 Marriott, Starwood, Intercontinental and Accor have acombined pipeline of 400 new hotels in China and are still building.The key to successfully serving this fast-changing demographic is customer research, including guest behaviordata from companies that specialize in the Chinese travel market.Hotels would also do well to stay abreast of outbound travel from India, Latin America and Africa. Although currentresearch data doesn’t support a huge outbound travel spend from these geographies, macro-economic scenarioschange rapidly.Hospitality in the Digital Era/5

The Road to 2025Instead of the automated e-mails that hotels typically sendguests to suggest amenities – such as spa treatments, airporttransfers and dinner reservations – chatbots in 2025 mightsuggest these offers themselves, increasing offer relevanceby asking guests questions.Booking and purchasingThink of the routine booking questions fielded by the front-desk hotel staff on a daily basis. “Do you have any rooms free tonight?” “My dog is well-behaved. Can I bring her?” “Do you offer conference facilities?”In 2025, conversational software bots could be answering these basic inquiries. Chatbots simulateintelligent conversation through text and voice, enabling humans to converse with computers throughtheir native language.Following the hospitality industry’s widespread adoption of in-house apps and instant messaging – andthe prevalence of text messages in everyday life – chatbots are expected to flourish in hotels, winning outover phone and e-mail communications. Dealing with a chatbot feels familiar and convenient to customers.Guests can explore options at their own pace, and chatbots are on duty 24x7, ready to be quizzed wheneverthe need strikes. (To learn more, please read our white paper “The Chatbot Imperative: Intelligence,Personalization and Utilitarian Design.”)Conversational AI is already hard at work in hospitality, taking fast food orders and helping travelers plantrips. While still in its infancy in the hotel sector, robotics holds enormous potential in several areas ofbooking and purchasing. For one thing, it lowers the cost of service via automation. Coupled with theindustry’s growing operational costs, that potential will drive hotels to adopt bots aggressively during thenext decade.Equally important is chatbots’ potential to integrate with booking. By 2025, chatbots are likely to form anew reservation and notification channel for guests. Modeled on text conversations with call center agentsand website navigation paths, booking bots may be able to not only fulfill reservations but also upsell roomsand promotions in line with customer preferences.Instead of the automated e-mails that hotels typically send guests to suggest amenities – such as spatreatments, airport transfers and dinner reservations – chatbots in 2025 might suggest these offersthemselves, increasing offer relevance by asking guests questions.Providers of hotel reservation systems will need to integrate with chatbot software to ensure bots’responses are accurate and the offers they make are relevant and welcome. It’s important to make sureguests can opt out easily and connect with contact center staff.6/Hospitality in the Digital Era

The Road to 2025Owning the guest experience, beyond the hotel stayIt goes without saying that retaining existing customers is far more cost-effective than acquiring new ones.So perhaps it’s no wonder that 2025 will see the hospitality industry’s participation in the guest experiencego beyond booking rooms and additional services. To retain customers, it will be increasingly importantfor hoteliers to collaborate with other partners in the hospitality ecosystem, such as airlines, restaurantsand retailers. (For more information, see our white paper “Own the Travel Ribbon for Ultimate CustomerEngagement.”)Loyalty programs will grow similarly collaborative. Currently, loyalty programs’ lack of interoperability amongindustries is a limiting factor in their usefulness for consumers. But as the loyalty network expands amongpartnering hotels, airlines, restaurants and retailers, so will the programs’ appeal to consumers.A downside will be the increased complexity of tracking points and rewards. Monitoring the accrual andredemption of loyalty rewards is already difficult for program providers. Each year, organizations issue 16trillion loyalty reward points, according to Loylogic, a provider of loyalty solutions. The estimated value is a9staggering 117 billion. Unused rewards represent large balance sheet liabilities for many companies.Even more challenging will be meeting travelers’ expectations in 2025 for the easy, immediate transfer ofpoints. Cumbersome redemption processes will be replaced by instant redemption. A loyalty member earningrewards for a hotel stay might trade points for, perhaps, a lift ticket at a nearby ski resort on the afternoon ofcheck-in. Imagine travelers paying their hotel bill with airline points. Or coffee lovers sipping lattes paid forwith car-rental rewards.Hoteliers are already taking first steps. La Quinta’s recently revamped loyalty program lets members redeem10points for everyday purchases at restaurants, grocery stores and online bookstores.Easier tracking of loyalty pointsBlockchain technology holds great potential for helping hospitality organizations manage the accrual andfrictionless redemption of loyalty points. The distributed ledger technology is secured by encryption, and itworks without the need for a centralized authority such as a bank or government agency.Because it eliminates the need for third parties, blockchain reduces transaction costs. It makes tracking points lessexpensive, more secure, instantaneous and visible to both the owners of the points and the companies issuingthem. (For more information on blockchain, read our report “Demystifying Blockchain.”)Analyzing redemption patterns will generate even more opportunities for personalization. With suchconvenient interoperability, the number of transactions could snowball – and reduce the cost per transaction.Although blockchain adoption offers these and many other benefits, several hurdles remain. For one thing,there are few standards in place for the technology. For another, blockchain requires high computingefficiency, which is costly. It also demands shared infrastructure and an ecosystem of partners willing toexperiment and engage using distributed ledgers, public key infrastructure (PKI) encryption and resources toprocess all the blocks.Hospitality in the Digital Era/7

The Road to 2025The on-site experiencePersonalization and security: the role of biometricsArrival continues to be a frustration point in the travel journey. While how we arrive at hotels is set tochange dramatically, so is the means of our arrival (see Quick Take, page 9). Our research shows travelers14overwhelmingly want easy, frictionless check-in. We believe by 2025, the straight-to-your-roomexperience will be mainstream, and check-in lines will be a distant memory. Once guests are in their room,safety is a paramount concern. By 2025, biometrics will feature prominently in the on-site experience.Facial recognition will help identify guests, and fingerprint scans will offer secure access to rooms andamenities.Casinos were early adopters of biometrics-based solutions, using facial biometrics for surveillance andfraud detection, and user authentication systems for payment authorization and controlled access to15player tables. With the rise of easily installed and programmed biometrics readers, the technology will16soon be within reach for large hotel properties that need to update access daily to restricted areas.Other factors will drive hotels’ adoption of biometrics. One is the growing number of biometrics-enabled17mobile devices. By 2020, all smartphones will have embedded biometric features. Another factor is hotelguests’ growing acceptance of biometrics. Forty-one percent say they’re likely to choose hotels with facial18recognition technology, according to research by Austin-based Software Advice.A challenge for broad acceptance of biometrics is convincing the public that the highly sensitive19information is secure. While fingerprint readers are widely accepted, facial recognition is a tougher sell20among privacy-conscious consumers. When adopted for short-term uses such as fingerprint scans forroom access, however, biometric data need not be stored in a central database as a permanent record.If possible, it should be stored locally on smart cards or security tokens to reduce the risk of data loss or21inappropriate cross-linking of data across systems.The industry’s implementation of biometrics to enhance existing card systems and reduce “card clutter”should always be customer-centric: Guests should feel comfortable using the technology. Promoting facialrecognition as an experience enhancer during check-in should result in easier adoption of biometrics.8/Hospitality in the Digital Era

Quick TakeDriverless cars: getting to hotelswill impact how and wherewe travelThe democratization of cars will have a profound impact on hotels.Auto makers and transportation providers are collaborating to make driverless cars available when and wherecustomers need them. Will the hospitality sector’s focus on comfort as its primary service become redundantin era of autonomous vehicles? Autonomous vehicles let riders work, eat and sleep as they motor along. Thatstepped-up comfort in cars will likely mean fewer nightly stays at hotels.Room nights are the most perishable and highest revenue contributor to hotel balance sheets. What products andservices should hospitality organizations create to remain relevant to business and short-haul travelers? Hourly room rentals. Instead of overnight stays, travelers on road trips of six to eight hours in driverless carsmay begin to view hotels as places to shower and change clothes, or to hold meetings and events. Optionsfor hotels in 2025 might include subscription services in partnership with car manufacturers and rental ortransportation providers. Vehicle leasing programs. Will car ownership become a thing of the past? One 2025 scenario predictsthe rapid rise of car sharing, with drivers purchasing subscriptions to car manufacturers rather than owning11vehicles outright. By offering daily hotel credits to travelers in exchange for use of a vehicle, hotels willreduce operational costs for fleet maintenance and insurance. Repurposd parking lots. Autonomous vehicles could reduce the need for parking space in the U.S. by more12than 5.7 billion square meters, according to a report by McKinsey. Moreover, it’s estimated that autonomouscars will require only four inches of parking space on either side, making parking garages 60% more efficient,13reports Boston-based architectural firm Arrowstreet Inc. With less demand for parking and fewer nightlystays, hotels will need to explore new revenue-generating uses for parking lots, such as restaurants andconference centers. Rethinking of hotel rooms. The room of the future will be smaller, and some may not even include beds.Properties with studio-size guest rooms that are within 500 miles of major locations will offer short-termservices.Hotels need to invest in smart partnerships and technologies to be ahead of the curve. New services andbusiness models can enhance hotels’ role in the travel journey.Hospitality in the Digital Era/9

The Road to 2025When less is more: going staff-lessNot every customer experience requires the human touch to beexceptional. For independent-minded travelers, staff-less hotels canoffer a better on-site experience. It may seem contrary to the peoplecentric business of hospitality, but reducing hotel staff does notnecessarily correlate with lower service quality. In the digital era, manytravelers even prefer

4 / Hospitality in the Digital Era The Road to 2025 Inspiration: change starts at the beginning The hospitality industry has always excelled at sparking travelers’ imaginations. Today, however, digital intermediaries have encroached on hospitality providers’ traditional territory, grabbing a significant percentage of the industry’s revenues.

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