Sabre, a leading global travel technology company, recently unveiled a report titled ‘Retail Revolution’ entailing the current trends in the global hospitality industry which has led to transformation of hoteliers into retailers. Express Food & Hospitality, over a series, presents excerpts from the report
There are just some of the fundamental, unchanging basic human needs and desires your guests have. In few sectors are these needs being expressed more prominently than in the retail sector. After all, retail brands are the ones consumers are purchasing from, depending on, and engaging with on a daily (if not multipletimes- a-day!) basis. This report explores six actionable trends, alongside examples of how innovative retail and hospitality players are harnessing these trends. Each trend is accompanied by key insights that you can use to fuel your next innovation, and get to the crux of what your guests will need, want and expect from you next.
Busy travellers with places to go and sights to see will expect from their hotel what they’re already being served by retailers: the ability to outsource certain experiences and tasks to algorithms and smart devices. This means the automation of hunting, negotiating, purchasing, and more.
Automation is frightening many: some estimate that it will wipe out half of all retail jobs in 10 years, and hotel employee unions like Unite Here are scrutinising the impact it’ll have on your industry. But as your guests and as shoppers, people are more preoccupied with their desire for simplicity, and how brands will leverage this tech to fulfill it.
Amazon Go (where shoppers are billed automatically, and checkout is a zero-effort process) is still something of a tourist attraction. But by 2021, 3,000 Amazon Go stores are set to open around the US – just one sign that consumers will expect automation-fueled experiences in retail and beyond.
The right timing
Consumers aren’t just expecting automated, simplified experiences. They’re expecting brands to be intuitive, and provide A-commerce solutions when they’re most needed: at precisely the right moment and in precisely the right context.
As per a report by Colliers International, October 2018, artificial intelligence is reducing hoteliers’ costs by 15 per cent and boosting revenues by 10 per cent.
Porter & Sail is an app providing curated recommendations on where to stay and what to do in destinations around the world. Via the app, users can book a stay at one of the hotels Porter & Sail has partnered with and access recommendations during their stay. The app uses location data to greet guests upon arrival. Porter & Sail provides real-time recommendations based on the current weather, where they are and guests’ personal preferences. In Q4 2018, Porter & Sail expanded its services to Bali, Singapore, Sydney and Phuket.
Hotel-switching site Nightly.travel launched a crowdfunding campaign in March 2019 in the UK to raise GBP 250,000, and help guests switch to a second hotel during a trip to take advantage nightly room rate fluctuations. Nightly.travel will use the investment to increase its hotel supply from 75,000 hotels to over 290,000 hotels and trial hotel-to-hotel transportation transfers as part of a hotel switching package. September 2018 saw Amazon announce the addition of a smart microwave to it’s entry-level AmazonBasics collection. Retailing at USD 60, the simple microwave can pair with Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa, enabling users to give commands like adding extra time and stop the microwave. It can also automatically reorder items like popcorn before users run out. The appliance includes a built-in ‘Ask Alexa’ button, as well as voice-activated presets.
Zero-waste grocery delivery scheme Loop piloted in New York and Paris in Q2 2019. Nestle, PepsiCo, Proctor & Gamble, and others partnered with recycling company TerraCycle and UPS to recycle and reuse branded, durable containers. Once the food or other goods inside the containers are consumed, empty containers can be picked up by UPS or dropped off. In a ‘milkman’-style arrangement, users can have their container pickup trigger automatic reorders.
February 2019 saw San Francisco-based grocer Farmstead launch an AI program that predicts customers’ weekly recurring orders. Known for its free and fast grocery delivery service, Farmstead’s Refill & Save program will provide customers with discounted orders on such regular items as milk, eggs, bread, fresh fruit and vegetables. Shoppers can add or delete items from the order – which is generated automatically – or can cancel it entirely.
US-based GPS manufacturer Garmin released its line of Drive navigators in January 2019. The GPS series automatically supplies drivers with information on points of interest they’re about to approach (restaurants and historical sites, for instance) on their current route. The device also displays TripAdvisor and Foursquare ratings for different locations. Drivers can view this information even if they have a weak data signal, as it is all stored in the GPS.
Replenishment services like Loop can apply to more than just CPG retail; they also present sales opportunities in the hospitality sector. What products could you automatically restock for your customers and guests during their trip, without them having to prompt you? Could your company collaborate with a popular retailer or brand on this?
Predict & please
The best in hospitality remember their repeat guests’ preferences, even down to the most minute details. But could you boost your staff’s ability to provide personalised service through the power of AI? Can your brand leverage a repeat customer’s past to predict what will surprise and delight them next (with AI-level accuracy!) and serve it to that guest automatically?
The opportunities for A-commerce aren’t contained to your building. The Garmin Drive GPS and Porter & Sail app harness this trend to support travellers as they move throughout a location. Can your hotel provide automatic guidance on-the-go, that’s tailored to guests’ preferences and context at any given moment? Your customers will appreciate you looking out for them!