The use of technology is key in keeping hotels and venues moving forward as the hospitality industry rebounds. Understaffing, reduced business travel, and rising costs are all contributing to setbacks in the recovery, but technology can go a long way in compensating for some of the problems hoteliers are facing.
Every other month, Cvent and Northstar Meetings Group conduct a survey of event planners, compiling data on planners’ thoughts and feelings about the industry now. Unless otherwise stated, all data cited in this article came from that survey. The goal? To provide information that helps hoteliers make educated decisions about the myriad of technology available.
Planners are largely back to business as usual, with around 60% planning to host events with over 500 in-person attendees this year. But staffing remains a problem for hotels and venues. The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) predicts that 500,000 hospitality industry jobs simply won’t be returning as the industry inches back to normal. That’s a massive hole for hoteliers to fill.
Automating manual processes is a first step in bridging the gap that understaffing has caused. But technology can do much more than help alleviate the struggle of understaffing. It can attract more planners to your venue, bringing in new business.
Around 50% of planners look for an easily accessible and user-friendly online system to book small, simple meetings. They’d also like to access an abundance of information about your property before they book larger events, whether on your website or an external advertising site.
Planners also want to see the space before they’ve stepped into it. Utilizing an online listing on a platform like the Cvent Supplier Network will provide this information – and so much more – to those sourcing an event. Meeting room specs, pictures and videos, and reviews are must-haves, but around 40% of planners also want to see elements like 3D floor plans, and virtual tours are starting to gain a foothold as well. While only 29% of survey respondents think virtual tours are necessary, adding one to your listing can give you a competitive edge.
Technology doesn’t just impress planners when they’re sourcing; it’s also a critical component during the planning process. Over half of those surveyed want venues to be more active in the planning process. That means making suggestions for creative space usage and offering more diverse food options, for example.
While technology can’t change what a chef is cooking, it can help hotels and venues create unique experiences and capitalize on trends. In-person events are continuing to grow in popularity, but hybrid events are still a popular option for many planners. That means using tech and gadgets to enhance the hybrid event experience is still critical.
Consider simple additions like QR codes as an easy and accessible way for venues and planners to communicate with attendees. QR codes can be read by most phone cameras, which means hotels can use them to communicate COVID protocols or a new diverse menu to everyone on the property.
For virtual attendees, there’s a whole world of tech enhancements available that venues can offer to planners. Investing in live translation software means planners can broadcast to a wider hybrid audience as a standard part of a meeting and event package. Live translation software can help hotel chains as well. Large chains may be accustomed to internal meetings in English with a worldwide audience but imagine the ability to hold those meetings when everyone can listen in their native language.
Holograms are a newer trend in events of all types. They can project anyone or anything from anywhere in the world without setting aside much-needed space, opening a lot of opportunities for event organizers. Plus, hologram machines are small and easy to store. It’s a minimal time and energy investment with high yield to offer to planners looking for unique options for their events.
Want something for both virtual and in-person attendees? Try virtual reality. Still an up-and-comer, VR is a great way for events to include VIPs who can’t attend in person. Headsets can be sent to guests or provided on-site. Having a space (just three-square feet of space needed for each person) in the venue dedicated to VR could push a hotel or chain ahead of the competition in the coming years.
Even small changes to the way hotels and venues do their normal business with technology will set them apart from the competition. For example, switching from regular email to multimedia messages, with branding and embedded videos, can quickly make an impact on any audience.
Clearly, technology is an invaluable tool in helping a venue stand out. Hotels need the best and latest information to keep business on the right track. Cvent’s insights into the latest trends and planner needs can help hoteliers be more efficient and get a leg up on the competitors. To explore more of the most recent key insights, visit: cvent.com/plannersourcing