Technology can replace hospitality?

The sector must look outside the bubble to view important markets. Whilst some will always seek the familiar, there are others who want to work with entrepreneurs to ensure they are ready to offer what the consumer now and may desire. EP now works with over 120 entrepreneurs who have original ideas and concepts that bring a point of difference to operations and engage customers. One will look back at this period and see it as the Age of Originality which encourages entrepreneurial thinking.

Last year EP created the Robin Hood Ideal Reworked campaign to promote innovation, ideas and talent. There are many entrepreneurs who are a credit to the industry and this is the platform for them to thrive. They are passionate, have real talent and a belief and courage

in what they are doing. It is now especially important to nurture them

because change is happening at such a fast pace.

At a recent hoteliers conference the argument was put forward that technology can never replace hospitality. The warmth of a personal welcome, of attentive service and the ability to interact with a human being will never be replaced by automation and a robot.

However this is already happening, albeit in a small form, and it will appeal not to different generations but to different consumer

behaviours. Hoteliers may argue it is a trifling matter. Guests will always opt for what they know, but innovation will always appeal in some shape or form to certain people. The turndown in a good hotel is a special touch, the drapes are closed, the lights are dimmed and the temperature is set just right. However, this turndown can now be controlled by automation and suddenly we see the revolution has started.

The Henn-na Hotel in Japan has a goal that in the near future 90 percent of all tasks in the hotel will be performed robotically. With 10 robots already, they know where their future is going to be. It saves costs and labour in the long run and once guests have overcome the somewhat unfamiliarity, it may be embraced.

This example is the ultimate extreme in terms of innovation within the hospitality industry. But major investment and long-term decisions are needed for future competitive edge. Innovation is required to maintain and for advancement, but who is bringing these new ideas into the sector?

The best ideas can often come from those who look at a problem in a different way or from an altered angle. Entrepreneurs are shaking things up and for the first time we are seeing the need for them to


What should we prepare for?

There is no doubt that we have witnessed a rise in the need ‘for an experience’, the growth of Airbnb is a strong sign of this.

Technologist Kevin Kelly has observed that the maturing of virtual reality technologies heralds a fundamental shift. He believes the internet, in which information is the basic unit of currency, is moving to one in which experiences are. Will these digital experiences impact hospitality?

It is now a consumer world of material abundance, and the experiences people pick are often an important part of how they identify themselves. It can be difficult for generations coming through to spend money on limited physical experiences, which are much more expensive than an alternative in the digital world.

Some will argue that guests stay for the whole experience which impacts both physically and mentally, but it is important to watch the infinite and boundless virtual world. Especially as the cost, accessibility and capability are all moving in the right direction, making time the only scarcity.

Real experiences for many are becoming very difficult to achieve. From 1981 to 2012, the price of the average concert ticket rose over 400%. It is these changes that bring new innovation as consumers seek less expensive alternatives. In 2018 ABBA are putting on a virtual and live experience for a new generation of fans. They want to create a sense of wonder and create lasting memories, just delivered in a different medium.

Purposeful companies will find renewed opportunities in taking on the new ideas from entrepreneurs and trying to understand the changing relationship between the consumer and the experience.