How cloud hospitality solutions can help you meet demand and keep your cool
By Joe Vargas
The summer vacation season is heating up for hoteliers as travelers continue to compensate for missed vacations in recent years and treat themselves to bucket-list trips. Despite inflation, hotel demand in April was only 2% below 2019 levels and spending remained on par with 2022, according to the U.S. Travel Association. According to Deloitte’s 2023 summer travel survey, half of Americans are taking a leisure trip that includes paid lodging.
To keep up with the robust level of current demand while delivering the ‘wow’ experiences desired by today’s travelers, hotels and resorts need to maximize efficiency and service delivery. Hoteliers that take advantage of technology can more easily scale up for peak season and ensure a consistent guest experience. A foundation of integrated, cloud hospitality solutions can deliver the operational efficiency and deep insights needed to meet current demand and support future growth.
Unify and align operational areas to enhance profitability and guest satisfaction
A cloud-based property management system (PMS) lies at the heart of hotel operations, providing a steady stream of real-time data to empower staff and drive management decisions. Gaining a deep understanding of guest preferences is integral to delivering an experience that converts summer travelers into loyal, repeat guests. Visibility into guest profiles, reservations, staff scheduling, food and beverage sales, events, and more provide staff with the information they need to satisfy guests and reveal evolving guest trends and preferences hoteliers can use to plan new promotions and services.
Built on a scalable infrastructure, a cloud-based PMS can accommodate increased data storage and processing needs during peak seasons. Cloud architecture easily integrates with other mission-critical solutions, including revenue management, sales and catering, and point-of-sale solutions.
With a platform of integrated, cloud-based solutions, hoteliers will be prepared to incorporate AI tools to optimize operations and further reduce friction for guests and employees. For example, some hoteliers have been experimenting with ChatGPT to help improve travel planning for guests and automate guest communication. Automating routine inquiries allows staff to focus on answering more complex questions from guests and delivering personalized services.
Seven ways hoteliers can use advanced hospitality solutions to meet peak demand
1. Simplify the booking process for guests. A cloud-based centralized reservation system is an essential first step to guest satisfaction. Cloud-based reservation systems synchronize bookings across multiple channels ensuring each room booked is available for the dates requested, reducing the risk of overbooking during peak times.
2. Optimize revenue management and room rates to stay competitive. Putting the right price at the right time on the right channel can be incredibly challenging during periods of peak demand. Cloud revenue management technology helps hoteliers identify opportunities to upsell and cross-sell at the time of booking and find those high-value guests that stay longer, spend more, and return often. Dynamic pricing solutions analyze historical data, booking trends and competitor pricing to optimize room rates across every channel, helping hotels maximize revenue during peak travel periods.
3. Enhance service delivery with self-service, mobile apps, and AI virtual assistants. Many hotels now offer convenient, contactless guest check-in through mobile apps and self-service kiosks. This eases the workload for front desk staff and emboldens guests to find rooms on their own. Guests can also use mobile apps to schedule spa treatments, order room service, reserve resort amenities, and take advantage of special offers and promotions. AI-powered chatbots can assist guests with simple inquiries, reservations, and recommendations 24/7. These virtual assistants can help provide a seamless customer experience while reducing staff workload during busy periods.
4. Minimize costs with improved facility and resource management. Operating a hotel is more expensive than ever – some data suggests that utility costs, especially electricity and water/sewer, have nearly doubled since 2018. As hoteliers face bigger utility bills and occupancy levels, it is crucial to control energy costs. AI can help predict maintenance requirements and optimize resource allocation, such as energy usage, resulting in more efficient operations during high-demand periods.
5. Personalize guest experiences and deliver the wow factor. With real-time, highly accessible data from across the operation, hoteliers operating in the cloud don’t need to rely on educated guesses. Data analytics can gather the day-to-day performance metrics managers need into one dashboard. Dynamic ad-hoc reporting can dig into changing booking patterns or emerging guest preferences, helping hoteliers deliver a more on-point guest experience and capitalize on new opportunities. Data-driven insights can help tailor special offers and services that cater to guest needs and trends.
6. Manage your online reputation in real-time. Cloud-based tools can help hoteliers monitor and respond to online reviews and feedback. Promptly addressing guest concerns helps maintain a positive brand image, but it can be difficult for staff to keep up during peak travel periods. AI algorithms can help analyze reviews and social media mentions to gauge satisfaction levels and identify areas for improvement.
7. Improve forecasting and demand planning. Data about this summer’s guests and trends will help hoteliers produce more accurate demand forecasts for next summer. Identifying the local events and attractions that brought guests to the property can help refine future marketing plans and sale messages. Additionally, historical point-of-sale information can assist with future purchasing plans, while time and attendance and scheduling data can help you plan for next summer’s staffing needs.
In summary, this is a critical time for hoteliers to embrace advanced technology. Summer travel is heating up. Costs continue to rise, and staffing remains a challenge. Hospitality automation offers the ability to maximize efficiency and profitability while delivering superior guest experiences during peak seasons.
The industry has been undergoing a technological makeover, with cloud-based PMS, point of sale, and revenue management solutions offering hoteliers the ability to automate more tasks and generate deeper data-driven insights to make properties more competitive and profitable. In addition to the benefits already delivered by digital transformation, a strong foundation of cloud-based hospitality solutions puts hotels and resorts in the best position to go further by taking advantage of advanced AI tools, smart devices, and robotics.