Technology Innovations in Hospitality and Tourism 2022

August 02, 2022 Mihaela Lica Butler

In 2022 the technological trends fuelled by the coronavirus and other global events advanced enough to become mainstream. Widely adopted by most hotels and travel companies around the world, things like contactless technology, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and IoT continue to evolve. Here are the things that maintained and advanced the momentum of last year's hospitality and travel tech trends.

Contactless Payments

The most common use for contactless technology implemented since the coronavirus outbreak was contactless payments; this became a norm in tourism, hospitality, retail, and other businesses. Contactless payments offer unique advantages to companies and customers alike:

  • less handling germ-infested cash;
  • faster payment processing;
  • tap-to-pay technology no longer requires PINs;
  • safer transactions due to built-in encryption and fraud protection;
  • cashless transactions: NFC technology allows users to pay with smart devices (mobile phones, smartwatches), not only with cards;
  • banks offer customers loyalty programs to encourage customers to use tap-to-pay devices;
  • tap-to-pay offers businesses better operational efficiency (no more counting cash, less time spent on operating card machines);
  • a faster check-out experience for customers;
  • no added processing fees.

Touchless Technology

Touchless technology has substantial advantages for businesses and consumers alike. For example, during the COVID-19 outbreak, people were strongly encouraged to limit the surfaces - door handles, remote controls, etc. - they touched in order to curb the spread of the virus. The need fuelled a trend and all the technological advances that followed. Here are some examples of touchless technology in use in hospitality and tourism today:

  • Touchless faucets: sinks now have sensors that allow people to turn on the water with the wave of a hand. Similar sensors are used for soap dispensers, paper towel dispensers, etc.
  • Touchless flush technology: smart sensors allow users to flush the toilet with the wave of a hand; this is a reliable no-germs, no-touch technology providing excellent hygiene standards.
  • Voice recognition is not yet widely used, but some high-end hotels have already implemented it in elevators and rooms. In addition, with voice-controlled digital assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, voice recognition is already widely used in homes worldwide. Statista suggests more than eight billion digital voice assistants will be in use by 2024. This means that voice recognition is no longer a trend but a mainstream technology.
  • Touchless access control: automatic doors already have smart controllers that allow access based on motion detection. However, touchless access control has evolved: today, it also involves biometrics authentication. Despite some privacy concerns, the technology will continue to grow and reach a market value of nearly 8.8 billion U.S. dollars by 2026 (Statista).

Touchless technology is not only trendy but an inevitable evolution for consumer convenience, frictionless access, and hygiene.

Mobile Check-in

Hotels use this technology to allow guests to check in using their mobile devices. It is a necessity fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, according to Statista, as early as August 2020, 62% of travellers worldwide preferred to check in and check out using a hotel app, and 30% chose to use a website. In addition, a Metova survey showed that 86% of guests would choose one hotel over another if one offered mobile check-in.

Hospitality Innovation 2022

Credit: Metova

The new guest preferences and expectations powered advances in this technology, which is now mainstream. Mobile check-in has significant advantages for hoteliers and guests:

  • check-in from anywhere before arriving at the hotel;
  • safe and secure check-in, with data-protection technology that offers guests peace of mind;
  • lessen the workload for reception staff, who now can focus on tasks that boost guest satisfaction;
  • apps used for hotel check-in can also drive monetization by promoting other hotel services (spa, premium lounges, a la carte restaurants, tours, special offers, room upgrades, etc.).

Like voice recognition and touchless technologies, mobile check-in is a mainstream occurrence poised to spread and advance in the following years.

Virtual Tours, VR, and AR

Many luxury hotels, cruise ships, and other hospitality venues use virtual tours to enhance the guest experience, offering guests an immersive experience before booking. With virtual tours, guests can explore a hotel from the inside, getting a clear sense of what they can expect during their stay.

There are countless examples of hotels offering virtual tours, from luxury resorts to more affordable hotels. Virtual tours (do not confuse with virtual reality VR tours) use Google Tour Creator technologies to create 360 panoramas showcasing every aspect of a property.

Google also offers affordable virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies through its Google AR & VR service.

These technologies have applications not only for hotels but for flights, culture, and tourist attractions. Take for instance, Google's latest immersive experiences, including "Step into the Meroë pyramids with Google," or "Augmented reality brings fine art to life for International Museum Day."

Travelers can use a browser to explore these tours or a VR headset for virtual reality tours.

Augmented reality is more accessible, only requiring a smartphone with an Internet connection. Unlike VR, which is immersive, AR overlays certain elements over real-world images for entertainment purposes.

Rise of Robotics

Robots are not new in hospitality and tourism. You find them in hotels like Henn-na Hotel Tokyo Ginza (manned by robots and human staff) and airport terminals. These robots interact face-to-face with guests, acting as concierges or providing information. These robots added a plus of cool and entertainment to the customer experience in the past and they are still employed successfully in many hotels around the world.

What COVID-19 brought along robots for cleaning - and we are not talking here about robot vacuums. For example, the Westin Houston Medical Center - a hotel, despite its name - was the first to use germ-zapping robots to disinfect rooms, destroying SARS-CoV-2.

LG is now developing Cloi UV-C Robot, featuring a UVC light system that aims to destroy 99.9% of microorganisms to automatically clean high-traffic, high-touch areas in different spaces.

Yotel Boston uses Vi-YO-Let, an autonomous robot with UV light that disinfects surfaces and the air.

These examples show that self-cleaning robots have a clear role in the future of hospitality, reducing the workload for cleaning staff and adding peace of mind for guests and hotel employees alike.

Final Thoughts

These are just some examples of technology that continues to advance for the betterment of the customer experience in hospitality and tourism. Other fields like cybersecurity, big data, and artificial intelligence keep on developing with limitless applications. For example, AI powers robots, chatbots, VR, data analytics platforms, search engines, and much more. AI also makes sense of big data and offers strategic defence mechanisms for cybersecurity, assessing vulnerabilities and cyber threats. Finally, AI will power many innovations in hospitality and tourism in the future. 2023 will likely be the year of AI in most industries.