Digital Optimizes, but the Product Wins Loyalty!
June 3, 2014 12:30pm
by Georges Panayotis
Today innovation lies at the heart of consumer expectations and how could it be otherwise? Brainwashed by advertising for increasingly intelligent cars, increasingly efficient smartphones, increasingly connected household appliances, for consumers it is only natural for all the objects and services in their daily lives to integrate new technologies, efficient energy consumption, improved comfort and security. So why should the hotel industry be any different? Why would their expectations be lesser? What’s happening in hospitality, they ask themselves?
And yet, we are far from it! The hotel industry has remained prisoner of a cyclical vision that paces its investments, while clients think about renewal of the supply and offers of services. The presentation of the room of the future is an exercise in style and a communications tool, but it has trouble getting out of the test area and into new properties.
In the 70s, hotel chains refreshed the industry by rapidly unfurling concepts brought back from the New World. They made traditional hotels outdated and gained the confidence of increasingly demanding clients. Today some of these groups are marginalized and in the uncomfortable position of justifying their obsolescence by the lack of means and the asset-light strategy.
These days, answers increasingly come from individual entrepreneurs who launch prototypes with the energy of pioneers. But they have trouble reaching the critical size necessary for transforming a new concept into a real network. Investors need a bit of coaxing to facilitate strengthening and only step forward when a show of public support offers a guarantee of success.
Previously ahead of its time, the hotel industry offered access to bathroom, culinary, home automation and IT innovations. It invented new services, a new reception and a variety of events. And then the technological revolution invaded homes faster than hotel innovations, which they outpaced. The industry needs to regain this momentum to provide guests with the emotions, experiences and surprises they are constantly looking for. Experience even shows that the most successful concepts are those that are most in tune with the times.
Imagination needs to regain lost ground by integrating a new dimension dictated by the chaotic evolution of the economic cycles of recent years. Like a ship, a hotel must be able to brave the elements and the viability of its economic models is proved by how it stands up. Will we be able to invent the unsinkable hotel? Undoubtedly not, but that is not a reason to stop looking for technical and managerial solutions to develop concepts that are more modular, more flexible, so that services and options may be added or they may be resized as needed.
Capexes are not necessary evils, they are intended to improve the customer experience and finance innovation. It is vital not to accumulate a culpable delay that becomes costly in terms of investment and loss of clientele as the gap widens. Hotels are a living product that suffers from neglect. Concentrating all investments on the digital economy would be a mistake when guests are as expectant as ever regarding the renewal of emotions and sensations during their stay.
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Contact: Georges Panayotis, President & CEO
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