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Key hospitality technology trends to watch in 2021 | By Andrew Metcalfe

As we start to look forward to the new year, there are two key trends which we have already begun to see emerge throughout the course of 2020.

Both have been driven, in the most part, by the advance of the Coronavirus pandemic - digitisation and the use of data.


However, as the industry seeks to work towards recovery, I expect each will continue to accelerate at pace. Much of this acceleration will be led by not only the increased need to prioritise a different mix of revenue streams, but also the need to continue to enhance the guest experience as the way to meet the marked shift in guest expectations. Another significant and seemingly enduring consequence of the pandemic.

The need for urgent hygiene and process changes to prevent the spread of Coronavirus meant 2020 saw a big surge in technological change, accelerating many years of adaptation alongside other physical space concessions such as perspex screens.

The need for social distancing has meant many spaces have had to meet the requirements of a restricted capacity, which in turn has helped speed up more of the administration of hotel stays (food ordering, invoice retrieval, for example) to go online. I see no reason why this will slow in 2021. Many guests who may have been reluctant to adopt mobile check-in for example, have not only grown used to it, they now demand it. I expect this sudden increase in adoption will in turn lead to a number of further adaptations:

As an industry, we have been overhauling all of our reporting gradually over the last three years and will continue to add more and more information and tools to analyse performance, however we have one request this year that we hope is a one off - "Can you remove 2020 from our data comparisons?". We created that exception but it highlights the different challenge of using data in the coming year. Couple this shock with the need to be ready to adapt to the new trends, many are seeing more local travellers, less business travellers, shorter lead times. Understanding how this will evolve as we come out of the pandemic will be at the forefront in 2021 and probably last for a few years to come.

The increased adoption of both data analysis and digitisation will both be driven by not only the need to manage operations correctly, but also the need to manage operations more efficiently. In order to do that, hoteliers need a clearer understanding of the facts and figures that drive their operations and the technology available (such as contactless payments) to digitise and deliver a first-class guest experience. I am certain both will have key roles to play in the recovery of the hospitality industry in 2021 and beyond.

And if you have an extra 5 minutes, check out Andrew's thoughts on what technologies would be key in 2020 and see if his crystal ball rang true! Click .