The hotel sector must put mobile technology at the centre of the customer experience to compete in the digital world.
According to a new report from Grant Thornton, hotel experiences should be premiumised and personalised through mobile technology.
Speaking at the International Hotel Investment Forum in Berlin, Gillian Saunders, global leader for hospitality and tourism at Grant Thornton, said: "Technology is disrupting the hotel business model and causing new ways to have to deliver. The technology is there, demand is changing and competitors such as Airbnb are entering the market."
The report, Hotels 2020: Welcoming Tomorrow's Guests, predicted that hotels would need to personalise experiences to appeal to millennial travellers. It said that hoteliers should consider mobile room customisation and also consider how they engage with guests.
"Why have hotels been selling a standard room, not matter which floor, which side of the hotel and which view, whereas airlines sell a seat?" Saunders added. "They could have been selling a room to you. And then sell what's in your room to you."
She said that operators must consider more carefully app development, to ensure that each guest is offered a personal, tailored experience. This could take the form of room type, along with making sure the minibar is stocked with a guest's favourite drink, to details of relevant restaurants sent to their smartphone.
"Hotels need to work to understand their guests' requirements, making the most of big data to analyse and establish where personalisation through better use of mobile can really add value," Saunders said. "It's all about striking the right balance between apps and technology, as well as human interaction, which is still hugely valued. Get it wrong and you risk alienating your customers. Get it right and you can reap the rewards."