Hoteliers have long known that the notion of luxury is changing. Emerging trends in sustainability, social responsibility, technology and innovation are all shaping the future of luxury hospitality and the guest experience. As today's consumer shifts away from prioritizing mass-manufactured luxury goods, technology can help luxury hoteliers create effortless, authentic guest experiences that streamline operations and deliver value.

That being said, balancing the use of technology and human interactions can be a delicate balance. Increased investment in digital technologies has brought concerns over a battle between the automation of jobs and the human workforce, especially in the tourism sector. While some luxury hoteliers rush to adopt new technology, others carefully consider how they can use technology as an enabler to improve the guest experience and not the end goal. One thing that remains true is that businesses are listening to guest feedback and insights more than ever. Increased competition between hoteliers forces brands to continue innovating, either through technology or other means.

Here's some food for thought on the status of technology in the luxury hospitality industry.

  1. 72% of hotel operators believe that guest recognition via facial biometrics will be in use within the next five years. During the check-in stage, biometrics enables hoteliers to provide personalized customer service for their guests. Facial recognition helps identify guests, and fingerprint scans offer secure access to rooms and amenities. For luxury hotels, the straight-to-your-room arrival experience can make a real difference to the guest experience by giving them a way to continue their routines without interruption.
  1. Luxury consumers might eventually rely on AI-powered digital assistants to help decide how, where, and when to purchase travel. In a study by Oracle, 50% of guests said that ordering through a virtual assistant would improve their guest experience, while 33% said that they would visit the hotel more often. It's easy to imagine how voice search would speed up the hotel booking process, especially for last-minute room bookers, making the user experience much faster. So what does this mean for luxury hotels? With the rise of voice interfaces, travel marketers and luxury brands should realign their strategies to move towards simple, conversational content styles on their sites and social media. This will not only help with voice search, but also gives your brand a more approachable feel that will motivate more guest bookings.

  2. Having user-generated content (UGC) on social media is now a cornerstone for luxury hotel brands. Hoteliers that feature UGC in their Instagram posts see six times more interactions per post, while UGC on brand sites increases conversion rates by 9.6%. As luxury travelers find importance not only in the experience but also sharing something few people can, featuring UGC on social channels boosts their social recognition. Brands that leverage UGC well can foster stronger customer relationships while building an authentic brand that influences potential customers' decision-making.

  3. Big data is going to play a major part in the future of every industry – by 2020, humans will create 44 zettabytes of data each year. Luxury brands are now adopting customer data analysis through guests' backgrounds, preferences and feedback to generate insights. Frontline staff and customer feedback technology can work together to identify and solve guests' problems, since information tools can’t always find out why people react or feel the way they do.
  1. There are currently 23 billion “Internet of Things” connected devices installed worldwide. IoT is opening up home automation to the everyday consumer, with 28% of U.S households expected to become “smart homes" in 2020. As such, travelers now expect similar comforts in the hotel environment, where they can enjoy the same conveniences from smart devices without much friction. In reality, luxury chains such as Hilton have already been testing the concept of a connected room in different hotels. However, hoteliers must consider things such as seamlessness and the individual user experience when adopting technologies into their systems. By knowing when to incorporate IoT and when to utilize the value of humans in building relationships, luxury brands can truly enhance the guest experience and allow human needs to be at the heart of every guest interaction.