The hospitality industry across the world has been put to a standstill. Hotels, restaurants and travel agencies were made to shut their doors to visitors due to the COVID-19 restrictions in place. Although many restrictions have started to ease, some parts of the industry are still unable to operate to full capacity. This has encouraged businesses to implement innovative solutions to sustain their revenue. What’s new in the hospitality industry? Read on.

From the basics – what is hospitality?

Hospitality has many definitions; in principle, any business involved in making visitors feel welcome, providing an enjoyable experience to their customers and with revenue relying mainly on customer satisfaction, can be classed as hospitality.

It is most commonly broken down into the Big Four: food and beverage, travel and tourism, lodging, and recreation.

Digital transformation in hospitality

It goes without saying that the pandemic has had a massive impact on the hospitality industry. Unable to travel or dine out, many people tried bringing and the holiday experience into their home. To meet the changing expectations – as well as generate revenue – companies had to come up with new and creative ways to attract customers.

VR tourism

While virtual reality is not going to replace traditional tourism anytime soon, it can be used as a very powerful tool. Airlines or travel agencies can give customers an opportunity to experience the holiday beforehand using Virtual Reality Technology – such as “Try Before You Fly” offered by Thomas Cook.

Virtual tours

Customers no longer need to rely on photos alone when booking accommodation. Using their smartphone, laptop, tablet or VR headset, they can take a virtual tour of hotel rooms or a B&B from the comfort of their home. Airbnb has already prototyped a similar experience. The company showcased a VR prototype that lets users explore properties from their homes with a smartphone or VR headset.

Online events & conferences

It’s not easy to recreate the atmosphere and feel of a real event or conference in an online space. However, businesses found ways to give customers the experience of walking between the exhibition aisles. A great example is The BCS Virtual Festival of Digital Skills, which took place back in November 2020. Not only did it consist of live online sessions or videos – the main event page was an interactive networking lounge, where you could see various stands and auditoriums hosting a variety of live sessions to attend.

This past year has been a particularly challenging time for the hospitality industry, where face-to-face interactions with customers are at the heart of day-to-day operations. While virtual & hybrid events seem to be the current trend, they might lack a few features of in-person events. However, as more businesses adapt to the challenging situation and move towards digitisation, this trend of virtual events and conferences may continue to grow even after the pandemic fades and the digital revolution takes on.