It is always an interesting thought experiment to consider the ways in which technology may be integrated into a business in support of the objectives of that business.
It is really interesting when you are talking about an industry that is over 2,000 years old!
While it seems like a “square peg, round hole” problem, the fact is that technology is already highly integrated into the modern hotel experience and becoming more so each day.
Seven Ways Technology Will Support Business Processes
1. Streamlining scheduling. Data analysis and automation will dramatically improve the mundane business processes that go on in a hotel on a daily basis. For example, scheduling is still a fairly manual process in most hotels today. Fully autonomous forecast-based scheduling with some level of artificial intelligence that “learns” and becomes more adept over time could be a game changer. By automating the process and linking in attributes like seniority, requested days off, and overtime minimization algorithms, it will become increasingly efficient to match the need for staff with scheduled staff.
2. Better asset mapping. It will also be increasingly simple to track the geophysical location of both people and equipment throughout a hotel property in real time using RFID tags, dramatically improving productivity and minimizing slack/wait times in any number of daily situations. It will also allow the real-time ability to “spaghetti diagram” workflows which, over time, will led to increasingly efficient property layouts.
3. Removing language barriers. Real-time translation systems will enable much more effective training and staff communication across an increasingly diverse workforce. Language will no longer be a barrier to communication — both for staff and for guests.
4. Sleeker money management. Accounting operations will eventually be completely automated, resulting in a higher degree of accuracy and timeliness, providing management (and other autonomous “learning” systems) with the information needed to maximize efficiency and effectiveness. Cash will likely disappear, along with all of the associated problems of counting, storing, receiving, depositing.
5. Improved supply chain management. Supply chain management is ripe for full automation. From determining when to order product to storage to movement throughout the facility to automation of the physical inventory process, there is much to be done and much that can be done with existing technology. The days of counting things manually will soon be a distant memory.
6. Fine-tuned maintenance systems. The automation of the building and equipment systems will continue, including real time monitoring and recommendation of preventative maintenance to maximize the life expectancy and energy efficiency of these systems. Up to and including dispatching robotic service technicians.
7. Automated labor. As the sophistication of robotic systems improves, it is likely that we will see robotic housekeepers, food preparation systems, food service robots, and much else. If robots can build cars, they can make beds and serve club sandwiches. As the price of labor continues to increase and the cost of technology decreases, the financial incentives to automate large swaths of activities becomes quite enticing. And naturally, guest transportation systems will become autonomous and self-driving.
But this is only the beginning. Next, I’ll discuss how technology will impact guest acquisition and loyalty. Stay tuned for Part II!
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