2021 has been another year of highs and lows for hospitality, with the joys of reopening shadowed by enduring challenges, including staff shortages, no-shows and supply issues.
As we move into a New Year, there will be several priorities we need to consider as we navigate our way through these turbulent times. We must not neglect the core values of sustainability and personalisation, as well as the duty of care we have to our customers in terms of safety and security. Hospitality technology will play a big part in the hospitality sector facilitating and embracing these values.
Reducing power consumption
Sustainability will be ingrained within every part of our lives moving forward. Technology companies should be reviewing the power consumption within their organisations, as well as assessing and strategising on how they can support clients in managing and reducing their power usage.
This relates to both hardware and software. Investing in, and providing products that, have lower power consumption, or building into software code hibernation modes, which allow for power cycles and automatic updates before opening every day, will help ease power usage reduction.
Keeping customers informed – safety and sustainability
Allergen management will continue to be a big topic and there is an ongoing process to develop the most seamless and effective processes to keep customers safe. As personalisation and data collection in the sector grows this will improve. For instance, automatic allergen alarms built into apps or software could support hospitality providers in safeguarding themselves and their customers.
As well as allergens, consumers are expecting more from hospitality providers in terms of detailed nutritional information and the carbon footprint of their products. They are interested in the whole supply chain, product origins, and what companies are doing to cut back on their carbon footprint.
Environmental information that visually flags products with a high carbon-footprint, or shares the product origin, could begin to appear alongside allergens and nutritional data on app and self-serve unit menus, as well as on PoS software. Carbon-footprint calculators could be built into apps to allow users to calculate the environmental impact of their meal or drinks, down to the type of milk they choose for their coffee.
Apps have peaked
As predicted, apps have been prominent in 2021. Yet, we are now in the early stages of maturity and subsequent diversification in the tech life-cycle of this product. Their use will settle and solidify, particularly playing a big role for larger hospitality organisations and corporate caterers.
However, consumers don’t want to download an app for every visit or experience. Web-based ordering, particularly in-house will remain a big trend. Tableside ordering, with QR codes, browser-based menus, ordering and payments software will continue to be popular in 2022. Technology providers need to ensure a secure, seamless process and complete integration with back office and kitchen, as well as loyalty and payments.
Payment method experimentation
New products and entrants to the market will continue, as the industry and consumer habits shift and experiment in the ‘new normal’. In 2021 we saw the extensive rollout of QR codes, and on a lesser scale pin-on-glass and e-wallets. These products are going to continue to change the marketplace and create more seamless payments. New products will also improve accessibility by reducing payment costs for merchants.
Direct bank transfers (via QR codes and pay-by-link) are currently free, but at some point this will be commercialised by banks etc., as revenue is lost from other payment methods. Ensuring consumer protection should be a priority for technology providers, and hospitality businesses need to understand merchant liability.
Windows 11 operating system was launched in October 2021, and with most hospitality tech operating on Windows software, in 2022 we will see a hardware refresh, as companies who are upgrading systems change their hardware to be compatible with the new OS.
Alongside pin-on-glass and other more streamlined PoS and payments methods, this change will result in hospitality environments evolving to look slightly different and more modernised. This will happen slowly, but there are many bigger sites and companies with legacy systems that are going to need to start investing in upgrading their systems, so this will speed up the shift.
In line with sustainable practices, technology providers should be advising hardware updates only where it is necessary or beneficial from both a business and an environmental standpoint.
Continued tech adoption and acceptance cross-generations
The older generations are still using tech and adopting new ones, which means that hospitality providers have even more reason to embrace technology – they can be confident the majority of their customers are ready.
Generation Alpha are coming into the marketplace. They have fewer reservations about sharing their information, and this openness with data will impact and improve the hospitality experience, leading to greater personalisation.
As we move into an uncertain 2022, technology adoption will continue to be critical for the mover and shakers of the year.