As technology evolves, hospitality accommodation providers are continuing to invest in cloud-based solutions, platforms and apps, and increasingly expanding on the installation of intuitive tools to streamline their working processes.
Andrew Metcalfe (pictured), chief technology officer of leading global hospitality software business Guestline, considers the biggest technology trends that could shape the way hotels do business in the coming year.
Cloud-based technology to be the new normal
Where previously there was some fear of cloud-based technology for the core operations of a hospitality accommodation provider now we are seeing it becoming a mandatory factor in acquisition decisions.
In a growing technology ecosystem the remote access potential of cloud-based software means your partners for other business functions can easily help you create a compelling service offer for your guests.
When a system is under the reception desk it is a lot harder to make those services seamless. Likewise, other benefits of not being under the desk are the reduction of costs and headaches associated with maintaining production level servers and allowing focus on the core business of great experiences for guests.
Open APIs and integrations are the way forward
In order to create the seamless and valuable service for your guests, the industry needs to have all companies able to talk to each other through APIs and other integrations.
Doing this will enable third party systems to help upsell, improve operational efficiencies and enhance the guest experience. Niche start-ups, experienced and mature upstream providers and complimentary software systems like restaurant management and spa booking being able to talk to one another, will not only improve the guest experience but can also ensure that potential opportunities to drive more revenue are realised.
Room upgrades are one of the biggest profit opportunities for hoteliers, so having the right technology in place can help increase RevPAR.
Having the right technology helps hoteliers target guests with bespoke upgrade communications in the lead up to check-in and during their stay, such as breakfast add-ons that could counteract commission charges. As hoteliers wake up to the profit potential that comes with more efficiently providing information ahead of a guest’s stay, the hospitality sector will become better placed to keep guests engaged and build loyalty.
Increased adoption of direct marketing technology to help hotels implement direct booking strategies
With forecasts suggesting that by 2020 Expedia and the Priceline Group (Booking.com’s parent company) will control 94 per cent of all online hotel bookings between them, hoteliers will need to work hard to strike the right balance between direct channel and OTA bookings.
Throw into the mix the fact that commission is coming under pressure as hoteliers try to drive the value down, and that OTAs are sure to respond by expanding their services. We’re already seeing innovation as OTAs use data and automation to enhance the quality of the customer experience.
As a result, and in order to more efficiently better manage their distribution, we expect the hospitality sector will take significant steps to increase its understanding of the digital marketing landscape.
Increased investment in digital marketing will enable hoteliers to inspire more direct customers and invest in ways to better capture data. This can encourage guests to move away from third-party channels when they return and to open up inventory to innovative new avenues of purchase.