Facial recognition, virtual reality, cryptocurrency – how the hotel experience is changing

In 2022, we won’t be opening hotel room doors with a plastic key card but rather our fingerprints. — AFP Relaxnews

With the aim of making guests more comfortable during their stays and offering them peace of mind on the hygiene level through contactless exchanges, after nearly two years of disruptions due to the pandemic, the hotel industry is going all in on new technology in the hopes of offering a more customised experience for travellers.

For future vacations, you should expect facial recognition, virtual reality, check-in via smartphone and payment by cryptocurrency to all be part of your hotel stay.

Open the door to your hotel room through facial recognition

Forget the plastic, credit-card-like keys that you’re used to receiving at the front desk of a hotel to enter your room. According to EHL, a leading hospitality educational group, the digital reinvention of the guest experience will be one of the major trends in 2022.

The leading Swiss hospitality university urges hoteliers to implement facial recognition systems in their establishments, for the simple reason that travellers have become accustomed to using this technology with their smartphones.

According to another report, issued by Open Geeks Lab, the facial recognition market is set to grow by 15.4% annually between 2021 and 2028. Similarly, some people prefer to unlock their cellphones using their fingerprint. So why shouldn’t we have the same options for opening our hotel room door?

Choose a hotel with the help of virtual reality

What if you could select the hotel for your next trip not by scrolling through simple photos but by virtually walking through your potential room? Widely deployed in the real estate sector, this technology is set to be rolled out by an increasing number of hotels next year. And it makes sense since psychologically the travel experience starts from the very first moments of the search process for our next trip.

According to the Lausanne hotel school, augmented reality will also help travelers project themselves into the vacation space and thus facilitate turning dreams of escaping to distant destinations into reality.

A host of new gadgets in your room

A wireless holder to charge your smartphone, instant access to the concierge through video link, control of the TV or the lights through voice recognition... If hotels actually get on board the trend of offering all these new forms of technology in their guestrooms, you might be feeling like you’re in the world of Tony Stark. Equipping rooms with such tech will simplify the lives of guests, reports Open Geeks Lab, a Ukrainian company specialising in the creation of mobile applications.

Contactless check-in via smartphone

Given health authorities’ recommendations to reduce contact during the pandemic, hoteliers could even do away with the reception desk – or at least check-in of guests on arrival – on a long-term basis. Several mobile apps, such as Octorate and Sabee App, have already been developed to enable guests to check in and obtain a digital key for their room.

Settling the bill with cryptocurrency

In Barcelona, PortAventura has got on board the crypto movement, as have booking giants Booking and Expedia as well as Pavilion Hotels & Resort hotel network. Bitcoins, Ethereum and other crypto coins will become an essential in the digital wallet of connected travellers. A revolution in the travel world is on the horizon when it comes to making payments. Airlines like AirBaltic and LOT Polish Airlines are already embracing this payment method. Establishments that ignore this new trend could miss out on a post-Covid comeback in the ultra-competitive tourism sphere.

Optimising data for a more personalised experience

Sharing your personal data is not all bad. In the hotel industry, at least, establishments could use it in innovative ways to enhance clients’ stays, rather than just bombarding them with promotional emails. According to Open Geeks Lab, collecting customers’ preferences when they stay at a hotel could ultimately result in greater satisfaction and loyalty. For example, indicating your preferences regarding the temperature in the room or the hour at which you have breakfast could make for a more seamless stay. – AFP Relaxnews

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