How have travel habits changed? What does the new generation of guests expect from a hotel? What can hotels do to meet these changed requirements? These and many other questions on the subject of hotels of the future are addressed in the FutureHotel research project of Fraunhofer IAO. Trends and tendencies in the current hotel market are documented in the project-based study FutureHotel Small Medium.
“It is surprising just how many customers consistently book online and how large interest is in mobile reservation and check-in options,” hotel IT expert Ulrich Pillau summarizes. “That is why hotel software providers should be pushing their developments ahead in this field.”
Hotel Schani – Checking for practicality
The FutureHotel project is much more than an abstract model under laboratory conditions. Rather, the aim here is specifically to find practical relevance. Scheduled to open next year, the Hotel Schani in Vienna is providing an opportunity to put innovative solutions into practice and to develop them further in the hotel’s everyday operations. Groundbreaking took place in February of this year.
The needs of Hotel Schani’s target group were determined in an additional study, the FutureHotel Guest Survey. The survey revealed that guests placed the highest priority on friendliness of the staff and the quality of service. The pressure on the hotel’s staff is already enormous and will only increase with new media and new technology,” Ulrich Pillau reports. “Software solutions should be integrated in such a manner to allow the staff in successful hotels to focus more on service for the guests.”
To make this possible, innovative solutions are needed that take the burden off employees and enable them to respond more intensively to the needs of guests. Wherever possible, all other tasks must be automated and simplified, for example in distribution or in revenue management.
Customer request: simplified check-in and check-out processes
No guest wants to spend a long time waiting at the counter to check in or out. If the employee has to spend a lot of time entering data in elaborate masks, he cannot deal with the guest at the same time. Nevertheless, according to the Fraunhofer IOA FutureHotel study, only roughly a third of all hotels use professional software solutions at the reception.
This is surprising because according to the Fraunhofer IOA Guest Survey guests find a quick check-in process is most important. Followed by initial information about the hotel and the personal contact with the hotel staff. “What I find particularly interesting is guest behavior and how much hotel groups, hotels as well as technology companies could learn by listening carefully to their customers,” Ulrich Pillau commented.
Because there is an easier way: Simplified mobile check-in processes via tablet are already the standard in so-called new generation hotels that are equipped with modern cloud-based software. They speed up the check-in process and allow the staff to focus their attention on the guest. At the same time, the new generation of standard software offers guests an improved technical interaction. For example, travelers can open the door of their hotel room very easily with their smartphone. They also find their familiar living and working environments in the new generation hotel.
Efficient revenue management through targeted data analysis
The basis for efficient hotel management with simplified processes is relevant data – based on own customer analyses as well as on statistical sources. According to the FutureHotel study, between 30 and 40 percent of 4 and 5-star hotels as well as hotel chains use automated revenue optimization. This is used by only 10 percent of small and medium-sized hotels – a lot of potential for big data.
“It is not enough to merely collect data without evaluating it intelligently,” according to Ulrich Pillau. “I think hotels should limit themselves to requesting less, but more important data and use it to take clearly defined actions. I could imagine that hotels’ traditional CRM systems must change a great deal.”
A sensible streamlining of services with lean management
Hoteliers see their hotels marked in future particularly by guests’ increasing price consciousness and their evaluation of the price-performance ratio. This requires a well considered adjustment of services. Are telephones in the rooms really necessary or does every guest already use his own cell phone anyway? Are televisions still desirable or do guests actually watch their own choice of programs on their tablets?
Streamlining services assumes that the factors for success are known and certain blocks of services can be deliberately omitted. Ulrich Pillau is convinced that, “the topic of lean management will gain importance in the coming years. Hoteliers, who recognized this and took action early on, are now successful today.”
The hetras hotel management platform supports all necessary processes to identify factors for success and to manage modern hotels and hotel chains: for a lean hotel of the future that uses innovative technologies to offer guests an entirely new experience.
About the FutureHotel research project of Fraunhofer IAO
The FutureHotel research project began in 2008 as an initiative of Fraunhofer IAO to identify new requirements as well as opportunities for the hotel industry and to develop sustainable concepts and solutions for them. Five years of research have yielded numerous insights. The various questions raised in this research have already led in many cases to pilot solutions, which have found their way into the market. The FutureHotel Forum provides insight into the results of the work over the last five years and presents current developments, which will be considered in future research.