Technology landscape of Hospitality – emerging trends and best practices

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Customer experience is all set to become the key brand differentiator, leaving product and price behind. Industries worldwide are investing in the latest technologies that will enable them to garner the highest customer satisfaction ratio. Hospitality industry, being a purely customer-facing domain, should take the lead here. 

Gartner predicts that by 2020, more than 40% of all data analytic projects will relate to an aspect of customer experience. By undertaking digital transformation, companies are modifying their operational and value delivery processes. About 31% of the companies have already invested in technology such as Artificial Intelligence to stay ahead in the competition. 

Edmund Tan, Director of Quality Assurance and Support, recently spoke on our podcast along with Kalyan Rao Konda, President at Cigniti and Head of the North America East business unit. The two eminent speakers talked about the emerging trends and best practices for implementing quality assurance within the hospitality domain. This blog is an excerpt from their insightful discussion. 

How does the technology landscape dovetail within the hospitality domain? 

Given the growing prominence of customer experience for brands, there are several emerging trends that technology is defining for the hospitality domain: 

  • On-board connectivity: Ed believes that on-board connectivity, especially for airlines, will open abundant opportunities in the retail and commercial space. At present, there are more than 8000 commercial aircrafts worldwide that provide in-flight connectivity. The on-board connectivity market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.8% in the next seven years, reaching an estimate value of $24.44 Billion. 
  • Internet of Things (IoT): The IoT devices record everything and thus helps businesses to connect different units and product lines. With IoT transferring and transitioning data across decision-makers, hospitality industry is able to take calculated, data-based decisions for their customer service strategy. 
  • Big Data: Although Ed notes that big data is not a new trend but an ongoing trend, he emphasizes on the emergence of the next level of big data from a predictive analysis standpoint. With the help of predictive analytics, hospitality sector can trace the past behavior of their clients and offer personalized services based on the obtained insights. 
  • Augmented and Virtual Reality: Hospitality companies are leveraging the AR and VR technologies to improve engagement with their customers. As Ed says, combining virtual and augmented reality allows the customers to either experience a specific service or offering before they approach it or relay some critical information through them. AR and VR services help hospitality sector to meet its goal of deliver better and more satisfying service experience to the customers. 

While embracing these technologies, it is also imperative that companies ensure optimal quality management of their applications. 

What are the best practices for implementing quality assurance across enterprises? 

In order to effectively solve the challenges related to quality assurance and management, consider the following key points: 

  • While putting together a test team, ensure that there is enough domain expertise. Involve people who not only understand technology, tools, and testing as a Subject Matter Expert, but also bring along vast experience related to the hospitality industry. 
  • Being primarily a B2C sector, the hospitality industry applications are mostly consumer-facing. Therefore, suggests Kalyan, it is essential to approach quality assurance and testing from an end user’s point of view. Having the mindset of an end-user is critical while approaching the overall test strategy.  
  • As the applications are developed closely in conjunction with the hospitality businesses, testing early and testing often is of essence. This ‘test early, test often’ approach in the lifecycle helps the companies to prevent scope creep while upholding the quality standards of the end product. 

How quality engineering efforts can enable strategic and resultsoriented approach 

Ed points out that all customers look for three main factors in any product, service, or technology – accuracy, reliability, and security. Exercising a quality engineering strategy enables an early and often feedback loop by bringing in the mindset of end users.  

As the emerging technologies are still fairly new, there is a lot of apprehension and concerns surrounding them related to security, reliability, and data. A quality assurance or quality engineering team solidifies the foundation of an application through testing, empowering businesses to maintain the desired levels of quality standard. QE seeks to measure and repeat these tests to perform a series of qualitative and quantitative analysis of the process. 

What challenges does the hospitality sector face during its QA transformation journey? 

QA transformation is initiated to resolve the existing challenges of silos and non cross-functional team structure. Ed recalls, “as a result of having those silos, the teams were creating processes that were very much customized to their particular product and only their products, so they couldn’t be standardized across the organization. Alongside, you have the challenge of folks believing that they were training their replacements. While that isn’t always the case, it was human nature to believe that, so we had a lot of resistance to sharing of information and sharing of access to different things.” 

Communication is another key challenge that organizations face during their QA transformation journey. Transparency is utmost critical for bringing in such a kind of change. 

Also, ownership becomes an ongoing debate. When silos are down and barriers are broken, when such migrations and transitions happen, no one really wants to stand and take ownership for their actions. 

For addressing these challenges, support of an experienced QA partner really goes a long way. Onboard such a partner who has extensive experience with these types of transformations, is adept with different tools and communication methods, and makes sure that the transition gets completed as smoothly as possible. Here, top management layer also plays an integral role in facilitating open conversations and communication channels. 

What are the key things to look while selecting a QA vendor? 

Ed lists three things that organization should look for: 

  • Capability: Ed recommends performing a thorough analysis of what the prospective QA vendor is capable of bringing to the table. Choosing an independent software testing company can prove extremely beneficial as such companies have all their energy, time, and money invested in one particular aspect, and thus have exception expertise in what they do. 
  • Partnership mindset: Instead of a typical vendor-buyer relationship, Ed places importance on building a partnership rapport with the QA vendor. It is essential that the vendor brings in a new approach, shares its information, knowledge, and provides insights beyond the expected deliverables for best optimizing the processes. 
  • Cost-effectiveness: It is important that the QA services are cost effective such that you get the appropriate test coverage without burning a hole in the pocket. 

Kalyan further explains how Cigniti’s IP differentiation has helped clients across hospitality domain to leverage top-notch, state-of-the-art QA and QE services. Cigniti’s IP focuses on improving the overall maturity of the test automation practicestest automation scripts that are being built, along with improving the overall end-user experience. 

Listen to the complete podcast.