Industry trends

High-tech, high-touch hospitality: why adopting AI is crucial for hoteliers

Petra Hancz

Petra Hancz

high-touch hospitality concept

The hospitality industry is at a crossroads. A persistent labor shortage, combined with sky-high employee churn, has created a staffing nightmare that the sector seems unable to wake from. This is crippling operational efficiency and service quality across the board. From housekeeping to restaurants, chronic understaffing means those who do still work in the industry feel as though they are working as part of a perpetual skeleton crew. And just when it seemed like the pressure pot had reached a boiling point, the rapidly changing demands of guests continued to add fuel to the fire. They’re tech-savvy and want seamless, high-tech experiences - expectations that traditional hotel models struggle to meet. 

The pressure is coming from all sides, making the need for transformation more critical than ever. Kicking change into the long grass isn’t an option – in fact, it could be a fatal mistake. Instead, the sector’s salvation lies in adopting a new model that blends high-touch with high-tech – essentially, leveraging advanced technologies to upskill and empower workforces.

The shift to high-touch and high-tech

This new approach in hospitality merges high-touch service with high-tech solutions. Previously,  “high-touch" service used to mean a sheer volume of staff interactions. But the addition of the modern high-touch experience changes this definition. 

"High-touch" within the new hybrid model means fewer but better-trained, better-paid employees – each supported by AI-driven technology. This model leverages advanced technologies to enhance the capabilities of the workforce, making every interaction more meaningful and efficient, creating a win-win for both guests and staff.

5 reasons to embrace the high-tech, high-touch model

1. Enhanced competitive advantage 

In an utterly saturated market, being able to stand out is paramount. By harnessing advanced technologies, hotels can offer distinctive and unique experiences that align with the aspirations of modern travelers. Cutting-edge amenities like contactless check-in, mobile room controls, instant guest communication and AI-powered recommendations give hotels a competitive edge - especially among tech-savvy guests. These services not only make a lasting impression but also position a hotel as a forward-thinking leader in customer experience.

2. Boosting employee retention and satisfaction 

The benefits of a more skilled, better-compensated workforce go well beyond reducing turnover. Employees who feel valued and who see a clear path for growth are much more likely to be engaged and motivated. This translates into better service and manifests in anything from a receptionist who remembers a guest’s name because they're no longer overwhelmed, or a concierge who goes the extra mile to make a stay special. Investing in staff through training and technology not only fosters loyalty, it also creates ambassadors for your brand. 

Using technology to automate mundane tasks can also help foster a more engaging and rewarding work environment, leading to higher employee satisfaction, lower turnover rates and a more dedicated workforce. 

3. Superior guest experience 

The guest experience is at the heart of the industry – and hospitality technology will soon be core to enhancing the guest experience. From mobile check-ins that skip the front desk, to apps that allow guests to control every aspect of their stay from their smartphones, hyper-personalisation will be the name of the game going forward, and it will only be facilitated by embracing technology.

When the bulk of administrative and routine tasks are handled by technology, staff can shift their focus from transactional duties to hospitable interactions. They can invest time in understanding and anticipating guest needs, crafting bespoke interactions that resonate on a personal level, fostering truly personalised experiences. 

4. Achieving operational excellence

Behind the scenes, the impact of technology on operational efficiency is picking up the pace. Automated systems can manage everything from inventory to energy use, reducing waste and cutting costs. Smart room technology can alert maintenance to issues before they even become an issue, ensuring that every guest's first impression is always a positive one. These new-found efficiencies not only save money, they also enable hotels to allocate resources where they're needed most. By streamlining operations and maximising resource allocation, hotels can elevate service quality without breaking the bank.

5. Unlocking new revenue opportunities 

Embracing the high-tech, high-touch model unlocks a treasure trove of information for boosting a hotel’s bottom line. New technologies collect a whole range of data, opening opportunities for advanced guest profiling, dynamic pricing, upselling and cross-selling and more. 

By harnessing technology to better understand their guests, hoteliers can create targeted marketing campaigns with offers that are genuinely relevant to them, from spa packages to dining experiences, driving additional revenue streams. 

Benefits of data-driven enhancements with hospitality AI 

The use of AI, fueled by data-driven insights, unlocks a whole new level of guest engagement and empowers staff to deliver exceptional service. The integration of AI in hospitality isn't just about adopting new technology; it's about fundamentally transforming how hotels interact with their guests and manage operations. 

Personalised guest experiences

AI can analyse guest data to blow minds and exceed expectations. Imagine a guest who consistently opts for firm pillows and enjoys a specific brand of coffee. With AI, these preferences become ingrained in their guest profile. When they come to check-in, the room is automatically set up with their preferred pillow, and hotel AI can even suggest nearby coffee shops based on past choices. This level of personalisation extends beyond physical comforts to encompass the entire guest journey, creating an unparalleled tailored guest experience. 

Improved service efficiency and accuracy 

Automated systems and AI-driven tools ensure services are delivered promptly and accurately. AI chatbots and automated messaging, for example, can handle inquiries and requests, freeing up hospitality staff for more complex guest interactions. When a guest has a simple question about restaurant hours, AI can respond with this information while staff focus on fulfilling guests’ special dining requests or room service orders. 

Beyond efficiency, AI can also improve accuracy. Gone are the days of room key mix-ups or inaccurate billing. AI can handle room assignments and billing calculations flawlessly, ensuring a smooth and stress-free stay for guests. 

Embracing the high-tech, high-touch model: the path forward

To thrive in the age of AI, operators must accept that increased investment in next-generation technologies isn’t optional. Cloud computing, AI, robotics and IoT are not just buzzwords but essential tools that can drive the hospitality industry forward. The shift to a high-tech and high-touch model promises not only to meet the demands of tech-savvy guests but also to address labor shortages and enhance service quality through a more skilled and well-compensated workforce. By embracing advanced technologies, hoteliers can unlock a new realm of possibilities, ensuring their businesses are not only sustainable but also primed for growth and success in the digital age.

Wondering how the industry perceives the high-tech & high-touch model? Read more.

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