We can say with certainty that the Internet will be the biggest driver of change in any industry by 2020.

Hoteliers born in the 20th Century can recall a time when 2020 seemed far away. People would then be paying for flying cars. Like in the early Star Wars movies, we would send holograms. The world would look drastically different, no matter what. Arthur C. Clarke predicted the Internet with astonishing accuracy in 1964. At the time, flying cars were also a possibility.

We can say with confidence that the Internet will be the biggest driver of change in 2020 for any industry, including the hotel industry. Online bookings and OTAs have changed the way hotels promote themselves and compete against other properties. Online reviews allow guests to influence a hotel’s inventory and reputation. Guests are as concerned about reliable Wi-Fi, charging points, and better workstations as they are with hot water and clean linen. The new horizons are “chatbots” to provide customer service, mobile check-in, keyless access, digital controls in the room, virtual reality booking, and energy-saving systems.

You’d think that given the rapid pace of change, hoteliers would have no time to relax and enjoy their success. Our foray into the world of science fiction is still a long way off. Here are some of the key developments that we can look forward to by 2020.

Artificial Intelligence will reveal its strengths and limits.

Amazon and Google have been pushing artificial Intelligence for a while, and they are aggressively promoting devices that can answer questions and perform shopping for you. Hoteliers will continue to have an interest in sophisticated chatbots and voice-command software as we strive to find the right balance between digital convenience and personal warmth. A.I. can also take on more assertive forms. They are already being explored. In several Aloft Hotels, as well as the Yobot Hotel, robotic luggage handlers are already in operation. You can check in at a Japanese hotel with cyborgs.

Will guests find this technology “creepy” if they interact with it beyond a certain level? Will guests miss the days of hotels with people behind them and personalities? It’s not that the technology is a problem, but it’s how A.I. It remains to be determined whether A.I.

In-room advanced controls will become the norm.

The Peninsula Shanghai has joined the list of properties that now offer digital touch panels to control in-room functions. Smart entry is also available at the ARIA Las Vegas. When the guest enters the hotel room, three simple things happen: the lights come on, the HVAC starts, and the curtains open. This simple act can surprise and delight guests.

Also, it’s important to mention that the “internet of things” has become more common in homes. In 2020, the devices installed in hotels in 2017 may seem outdated. Hoteliers must decide whether they want to invest now in high-tech infrastructure or wait until it evolves. Custom-built apps could even dominate the market when it comes to in-room controls. This would allow guests to control everything using their mobile devices.

Smaller guestrooms and bigger bathrooms

Since millennials began to flood the workplace and leave behind ping-pong table after ping-pong table, traditional wisdom about guestroom dimensions is being reassessed. It’s not only millennials that have inspired a change in the way guestrooms are designed. The reason is a shrinking urban area and a changing sense of importance.

Hotels are known to have larger bathrooms as a sign of luxury. A larger bathroom will reduce your living and sleeping space, but what if you used open storage instead of bulky closets? Add foldaway tables and workstations. By 2020, new and renovated hotels will follow these optical and space-saving trends. The use of wall-sized screens to simulate forests and deserts could also help solve some spatial problems. But we might see this more often by 2025.

Hotel designers will consider social media when designing.

In 2020, guest reviews will remain a key driver of success. But so will social media sharing. The use of photo-sharing sites such as Instagram, Pinterest, and whatever comes next will be more effective for hotels. A property that can create a guestroom, amenity, or common area that inspires Instagram posts will be able to harness the best kind of publicity. Negative posts will, however, become negative reviews.

The guest experience will continue to be defined by personal interactions.

Our profession faces a great challenge in finding ways to adapt and invest in the changing times while remaining flexible. No matter how much the futuristic hotel looks like something out of a science-fiction novel, the importance of personal interactions will not change. It will be able to give the guest an experience that no other device can provide: warmth and personality. Ask Siri if you’re not sure.

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