The last few years have been a complex and turbulent time for the hospitality industry. Larger hospitality brands have survived but have struggled: the leading hotel brands contracted in value from $70 billion to just over $47 billion in 2021 alone.
In this context, the gradual return in 2022 to something resembling normal is a welcome development. Still, the hospitality industry is right to wonder what 2023 will hold.
Travel Purposes Are Changing (and Mixing)
There was a time when most trips could be categorized as business or pleasure: either you’re on vacation, or your company is footing the bill, expecting you to focus solely (or nearly so) on work.
These two purposes have very different needs and expectations, leading to the proliferation of “business hotels,” such as extended stays, separate from pleasure-focused luxury properties and resorts.
But as the pandemic created a meteoric rise in remote work — one that shows few signs of softening — the line between business and pleasure has become murky.
When workers can work from anywhere, they often do, and sometimes they bring the family along. This phenomenon isn’t new, but it’s far more widespread than it was twenty years ago.
So, while the guests of decades past often gravitated toward specific hotel brands that fit their trip purpose, today’s guests are harder to categorize. Some will choose more family- or resort-style accommodations but expect or demand business-friendly amenities. And, with less overall business travel, those hotels and brands most aggressively tied to business lodging may need to adjust their positioning, refreshing their offerings and spaces to offer a mix of amenities.
Tech and Automation Adoption for Sustainability and Cost Savings
Sustainability has gone a little more mainstream in hospitality, no longer relegated to ecotourism or tired messaging about washing towels and bedding. Technology has helped drive the shift.
Some properties have implemented smart energy systems, where guests must insert a room key into a smart reader inside the room to activate all but basic functions. In this way, hotels can ensure they aren’t wasting energy (and money) on TVs, lights, and excessive heating and cooling in empty rooms.
Filtered water taps in guest rooms also reduce the dependence on single-use plastics — and save costs over time.
Contactless, Self-Service, and Limited Contact
With a heightened concern for person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 came shifting consumer opinions and preferences surrounding customer interactions. Despite overwhelming evidence that surface-to-surface contact is nearly a non-factor for COVID, the public has embraced the idea of contactless service wholeheartedly.
As we look ahead to 2023, expect contactless (or some variation of it, such as self-service or limited contact) to remain a priority. Here are just a few examples:
- Self-service pickup shelves for online orders
- Self-service app-based check-in and check-out
- Contactless room keys and payment terminals
- A menu of choices for service or concierge interactions
At the same time, not every customer will expect or even want a contactless experience: that hands-on touch is part of the draw to many corners of the hospitality sector. So, brands must find ways to offer both approaches — and make clear to customers that both approaches are available to them.
Stronger Emphasis on Virtual Connections
Consumers have adapted to virtual methods of connecting to customer service throughout every other sector; for example, many will look for a chat option on a brand’s website before picking up the phone.
Expect this trend to continue expanding into the hospitality sector. According to a research study from 2020, a great many guests were interested in conducting hotel interactions via app or mobile (including check-in, check-out, room service, and concierge interactions).
Digital concierge offerings are also on the rise: numerous startups are offering remote, digital concierge service in one of several forms, from phone-based to app-based to multichannel.
Again, not every guest will appreciate or want these virtual connections, but many will prefer them. The key is diversifying your service channels, not pivoting all resources to a new approach.
Greater Opportunities for Outsourcing
With this pivot into virtual connections instead of or alongside physical ones comes a new opportunity for hospitality businesses: transitioning guest relations functions to outsourced customer service.
Anything related to guest services that does not happen face-to-face can be delivered as a service.
Tyme Global offers over a decade of exceptional hospitality service and sales expertise. Tyme provides a range of virtual or remote functions, including these:
- Responding to inbound calls, texts, and emails
- Handling the human agent side of ticketing and booking
- Wake-up calls
- Restaurant reservations
- Smart IVR (interactive voice response) system for basic and routine tasks and queries
In similar ways, functions across human resources and operations can benefit both from better tech and software tools and (at a certain scale) as an as-a-service offering.
Tyme Global: Your Partner for Technology-Driven Customer Service Outsourcing
As you look to the future for your own hospitality operations, outsourcing some or all of your customer service functions is an attractive option worth considering. Partnering with Tyme Global gives you access to a broad range of service offerings and a scalable pool of customer service resources.
Whether you’re dealing with hiring challenges, struggling to maintain consistent levels of service, or are simply looking to trim costs, our tech-driven approach to modern virtual customer service is a powerful solution to your guest relations and customer service needs.
Tyme Global acts as an extension of your brand, and we integrate seamlessly with your existing operations and team. The results? Better, more consistent customer service. Savings of both time and money. And one less thing to worry about (or a whole lot less things, really) as you navigate the unknowns of the coming year.
Ready to learn more? Reach out to our team today to learn how our cutting-edge tech, rapid deployment, and legendary high-caliber customer service agents can transform your brand’s capabilities.