High tech has become the norm, and it may be growing faster in the global hotel industry than almost anywhere else. As you finalize your property’s 2019 budget, make sure you’ve considered this high-tech trend and have allocated the right amount of spending for the hospitality technology that will best serve your property, your staff, and your guests.

The New York Times quotes Scott Dobroski, who works in corporate communications for Glassdoor, as saying, “All companies are becoming technology companies to some degree, and this is especially true in the hospitality industry.”

And guests are taking notice. Hospitality Technology’s 2018 Customer Engagement Technology Study found that 65 percent of guests said they would pay more and are more likely to return to a hotel that provides the technology they consider essential. Another study shows that 44 percent of travelers are more likely to book a smart hotel and 69 percent prefer to opt-in to smart-room features.

For 2019, this includes digital check-in that lets guests to check-in and out from a smart device, the ability to communicate with hotel staff through messaging, and access to high-tech features in guestrooms. Twenty-first-century guests expect to have access to the same sort of seamless technology in their hotel room that they have at home. They want to find easy-to-use, lightning fast Wi-Fi with Internet speeds that are as fast as at home—or faster. They want to be able to stream content from their phone right to the TV, and they want to be able to make requests without having to pick up the phone.

Other critical areas to prioritize in your technology budget  are booking engines, digital concierge services, keyless entry, and beacons.

But let’s not forget about staff-facing hospitality technology. It’s invaluable having a mobile platform that allows staff members to respond to guests in real time, even when they are away from the computer. This type of platform also provides metrics on task management and request fulfillment timelines. Not only does this automated technology help streamline operational efficiencies, it also frees up staff time to allow your team to focus on guests and create an exceptional guest experience.

With AAA’s newly revised Approval Requirements and Diamond Rating Guidelines, it’s important to incorporate  technologies that connect guests and lodging operators so they can “interact on an increa­­singly personalized basis.” To qualify for one of the higher AAA Diamond Ratings in 2019 you need to make sure your budget allows for the appropriate technologies.

  • A 3-Diamond rating requires a hotel to have mobile technology that supports check-in and check-out.
  • A 4-Diamond rating requires that, as well as remote guest-service access through mobile devices.
  • A 5-Diamond rating requires all that and mobile key access to guest rooms and advanced connectivity across all guest interactions.

Prioritizing tech spending in your 2019 budget will help you to remain competitive within the industry. According to Hospitality Technology’s 2018 Lodging Technology Study, 71 percent of companies that consider themselves technology innovators plan to increase their IT budgets, and 40 percent that considered themselves “laggards” plan to do so.

Ask yourself: Are you communicating with guests from the moment they book their room? Do you have guest engagement and communication throughout the entire guest journey – before, during, and after their stay – and is that helping you earn guests’ loyalty for the long-term?

As for your staff, does your hotel provide tools that ensure five-star service and experiences? And do your digital systems integrate with the other important property management solutions you use?

Intelity’s enterprise level platform provides a one-stop shop that offers 20 of the 24 mobile functions that guests revealed wanting the most in that HT 2018 CETS report,” says Intelity Founder David Adelson. The Intelity platform also easily integrates with more than 100 other applications you might already be using – or wanting to add to your 2019 operations..

Make sure to think carefully about where you’re at with technology as you finalize your 2019 budget. The worst thing you can do is to fall behind the industry’s tech curve. Guests may stop coming, and it may become difficult or impossible to regain your relevance.