Technology is revolutionising the way people travel, so it’s vital for you as a tourism operator to understand what digital facilities your guests need and expect at your establishment. But the good news is that applying simple tech-savvy components to your business can make you competitive and “on trend” in the industry.
With South Africa becoming a destination of choice for sporting, business, leisure and cultural events, it is important to be able to cater for every type of traveller. The business traveller, for example, has different technology needs to those of a family on holiday.
Having said that, many tourists seem to depend heavily on technology at some point in their trip – whether it’s to search for a family-friendly restaurant or to check in for a flight. So it is important to know your market and to be geared up to accommodate different technology needs.
The average traveller visits about 22 travel-related websites prior to booking a trip and 70% of business travellers will check into their flights and hotels via their mobile devices. It's no wonder, then, that technology and tourism are becoming closely intertwined.
Here are some ways in which your hospitality business can be at the forefront of anticipating and providing for your guests’ technology needs:
Hotel guests who travel with devices such as cellphones, tablets and laptop computers no longer see Wi-Fi as a perk, but as a must-have. Guests expect to be able to connect to the internet seamlessly, so it’s worthwhile for hotels (and even guesthouses and B&Bs) to invest in reliable, high-speed Wi-Fi infrastructure as a value-add offering.
Digital conference facilities
Being equipped with high-density Wi-Fi is considered par for the course if you want to be regarded as a leading conference venue. Facilities must also be able to offer easy access to audio-visual presentation equipment such as digital projectors and screens, should they be required.
Concierge in your pocket
The “concierge in your pocket” concept is fast gaining popularity, enabling the user to check in to a hotel, order room service or a taxi, browse local attractions and even book a spa treatment or a wake-up call via their mobile device. Investing in a check-in/concierge app requires an initial investment but can lead to greater efficiencies and savings. It allows hotel staff to focus on customer service by doing away with the need for large, static reception desks.
Heard of virtual tourism?
Travellers are using technology from the point of booking to the actual holiday – with some even embarking on a virtual globe-trot before booking their trip. Virtual tourism has allowed travellers to see the world without leaving home or spending a cent. It may be worthwhile for your hotel or establishment to consider investing in a facility or app that serves as an online tour guide, enabling prospective guests to immerse themselves in digital simulations of your offering, whetting their appetites for the real thing.
Many companies in the hospitality industry are using social media to their advantage as guests check in on location-based social media apps, tweet about their experiences on Twitter and share their holiday photos with friends and followers on Instagram and Facebook. Establishments should therefore invest time in constantly refining and updating their online and social media presence – it needn’t be costly but the returns could be substantial.