Next year will see not only public WiFi hotspots reach a ratio of 1 to every 20 people on the planet, but also an attempt at using 3D printing to create the world’s first fully functioning printed car. Whichever way you look at it, 2018 is an exciting year for technology.
While advancements in tech are undoubtedly impressive, you might be thinking this isn’t directly relevant to the hospitality industry. That’s where you would be wrong. Here are 6 trends that are making immediate (and revolutionary!) impacts to 2018:
1. Supersonic Transport
Brainchild of tech titan Elon Musk, the HyperLoop One is a vacuum train with the ability to take you from London to Edinburgh in just 45 minutes flat. With its beta version set to finally become “passenger ready” in 2018, we can expect the subsequent years to make quite the hefty impact on weekend breaks as we know them.
With the intention of “networking the entire continent,” The Hyperloop’s incredibly progressive method of transport approaches the sound barrier at a speed close to 700 mph, and will have a remarkable effect on things such as commuting, the housing marketing and the transport of cargo, as well as the reach of hoteliers, restaurateurs and other businesses in the hospitality sector. With long-distance travel time significantly reduced, businesses can expect a wealth of new customers coming from much further afield to enjoy the local hospitality.
US airline JetBlue will be implementing a new boarding procedure this year using only biometrics (the use of biological data such as fingerprints, facial recognition, retinal scans etc.) for flight authentication, which if successful, could render passports and boarding passes wholly unnecessary.
JetBlue plans to make the shift to passenger biodata on selected flights as of 13 June 2017, making travel security much more straightforward and time-efficient. Although only one of many forward-thinking brands using biometric security to improve customer experience in recent years, (Apple, Google, Samsung, Fitbit, Phillips and Paypal – as well as premium nightclubs such as London’s Mahiki – to name a few others), JetBlue could very well be the pioneers of airline security in 2018.
In recent years, the word “cryptocurrency’” has been hot on the lips of every tech professional in the world. It is the term used in Fintech for the wave of virtual currencies making everyone ask the question “are banks dead?” Why? Because cryptocurrency enables value exchange transactions that completely eradicate the fees and charges incurred when using the bank or credit card providers as middlemen.
Goldman Sachs claims: “It has the potential to redefine transactions and the back office of a multitude of different industries.” For hospitality professionals, cryptocurrency can enable smoother overseas trading while making them more profitable for all parties involved. With the cryptocurrency known as Bitcoin set to triple the value of gold in 2018, the future of the financial landscape could be about to change forever.
4. CRM and Booking Management
Given the concern for safety in the events sector in recent years, technology has also aided protective security measures. One particular software born of this issue is bar and nightclub management company, Cluboid.
Cluboid software enables nightclubs and bars to automatically match up a customer’s booking data with their social media profile and gather photos of their guest list for the night, as well as providing an internal channel of communication between venues. This means that any concerns or known troublemakers listed by one venue can be monitored and reviewed by another using secure cloud computing, helping to curb problems before they even arise.
5. Machine Learning
Machine learning is a strand of artificial intelligence where computers are trained to get better at understanding complex patterns in data without human intervention. Audi previously used it to refine self-parking technology, US retailer Target predicted a woman’s pregnancy by studying her user behavior and consumption patterns — the concept itself is not new, but it is bringing customer service to new heights in 2018.
Machine learning is now affording hospitality professionals the ability to provide preemptive service by surveying a customer’s probability to want or need something based on data. That means that your hotel stay may already know which newspaper you would like readily available or that you would like to watch a particular sports game, and therefore cater to you accordingly.
6. AI-Assisted Support
2017 sees 88% of businesses in the travel and hospitality segment already using artificial intelligence (AI) to automate things such as bookings, navigation and customer service, but it’s about to get a lot stranger as global retailer Amazon endeavors to have Alexa — their A.I. assistant — answer their customer support calls and texts.
Within five years, Amazon hopes to have their natural language processing tech so robust that it can answer your queries, in real-time, more thoroughly than a human could. Seeing as 44% of US consumers already admit to preferring chatbots to human customer support, we can expect customer service automation such as this to continue to rise well into 2018.
One US hotel has even began debuting smart hotel rooms, where patrons can access and control their entire hotel room using voice commands and therefore do away with remotes and key cards entirely.
Combined with biometric technology replacing passports and boarding passes, it looks as though we’ll have very little to carry in 2018. While there appears to be a lot of tech in the future, there doesn’t seem to be much hand luggage! Here’s to a thoroughly hands-free 2018!