Finding the balance: human touch versus high tech

Millennials and the future of the hotel and restaurant sector

July 2018

Hotels and restaurants are increasingly expected to deliver a new and different experience; one that leaves a lasting memory, distinguishes them from their competitors and embraces not just technology, but the future.

And what is that future? Here come the millennials. A generation of digital natives with significant spending power. In fact, millennials already account for 28% of revenues for hotels and 29% for restaurants, according to our research.

This generation is clearly having an impact on the sector. However, our survey of over 5,000 millennials in 18 countries, contrasted with the views of over 170 leaders in the hotel and restaurant sector, dispels several myths and stereotypes. It’s clear, for example, that there is no typical millennial. Life stage and geographic location heavily impact their choices. And they do not always value high tech over the human touch. At least in the world of hotels and restaurants, experience trumps technology.

So how do hotels and restaurants respond? How do they invest in a future driven by the most tech-savvy generation to reach adulthood yet? How do they create efficiencies to solve pinch points in the businesses without alienating the very market they’re trying to attract?

For example, our research suggests that hotels and restaurants overestimate the value millennials place on automated processes using apps and tablets. This generation still wants to place a food order or check out with a real person. 78% say they prefer the human touch throughout their whole dining experience. Robots beware.

Tech does have an influence though. Hotels are estimated to be investing over 9% of annual revenue on technology, equivalent to USD 1 trillion. The most popular hotel tech are high-speed WiFi, an app for hotel services, music streaming and an in-room tablet for room controls. In restaurants, the most popular facilities are the ability to order food and drinks before arriving, paying via an app and ordering food electronically at the venue. But globally only 16% thought 3D virtual entertainment would improve their dining experience. By contrast, 28% of restaurants expect to implement 3D virtual entertainment in their restaurants within the next 24 months.

These are just a few of the surprising findings of our research. Combined with our own insight, we also share the latest thinking from several high profile industry figures who have plenty to say on this subject. We hope you enjoy reading their views and the report and look forward to discussing it with you in more detail.

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Finding the balance: human touch versus high tech
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Authors

Thomas Page
Thomas Page
Partner
London
David Roberts
David Roberts
Partner
London