The global hotel industry needs to embrace technology to keep up with consumer demand as it continues to lag other sectors in terms of investment, says Deloitte, an international financial consultancy.
To be successful, hotel companies need to spend more on initiatives such as mobile phone booking technology, smart cards, social networking and product innovation in rooms, Deloitte said yesterday at the launch in Dubai of its Hospitality 2015 five-year report on the future of the hotel industry.
Among predictions for the sector highlighted in the report, by 2015 hotel rooms could have floors with built-in sensors that light the way for guests; doors that can be unlocked through mobile phones; and alarm clocks that wake guests by increasing the amount of light in their rooms.
Guests should be able to text or e-mail their preferences so their rooms are set up to meet their requirements. "As an industry we are dreadful at technology," said Alex Kyriakidis, the global managing partner at Deloitte's tourism, hospitality and leisure division.
"We continue to lag everybody else in terms of investment."
Technology spending in the sector is predicted to rise by just 0.9 per cent a year between 2008 and 2013 in terms of the compound annual growth rate.
"In our industry, of course, the airline is leading," said Mr Kyriakidis.
"Now the airline has converged the entire experience on to your PDA [personal digital assistant]. With some carriers today you can do everything on your mobile phone from your booking, to your check-in, to boarding at the gate by scanning your mobile phone, all the way through on to your chosen seat on the aircraft.
At what point is our industry going to catch up and deliver this kind of guest experience?"
Online social networking is also expected to become an increasingly important marketing tool that cannot be ignored.
"We can forget Conde Nast. We can forget what the travel agents say," said Mr Kyriakidis.
"More than ever before our consumer is going to turn to social media to understand what they're getting into.
"Heaven help us as an industry if we're not up to speed with that and one step ahead. If you talk to the majors today, this is an area of significant investment.
"That is, how they are going to respond, react, and deliver, and defend the brand promise on the social media websites.
"Certainly the industry is waking up to social media as a huge threat on the one hand, but a massive opportunity on the other to communicate your brand."