By Pierre Boettner
Often described as antiquated, hotel technology has advanced at a much slower pace when compared to other industries. However, as we observe the on-going momentum and emergence of new trends, it’s become apparent that the hotel systems space is finally making strides to catch up.
In fact, hospitality technology has come a long way. Following many years of trial and error, hoteliers have begun to utilize emerging tech that allows them to prioritize, and better yet, understand the modern guest in new and exciting ways.
This evolution didn’t happen overnight, but rather at the hands of industry experts eager to take one-dimensional technology solutions competing for attention, and bring them together to form a cohesive ecosystem. Where hoteliers previously only had one way of connecting systems (serial interfaces), they now reap the opportunity to connect to different systems via IP interfaces and APIs. With this newfound connective freedom, the hospitality industry can embrace exciting advances in the realm of voice integration, intuitive databases serving as more than just a PMS, and so much more. So, what will the future hold, you might wonder?
According to studies, this shift to a digital service model will generate benefits valued at up to $700 billion for customers and society, including a more sustainable environmental footprint, improvements to safety and security measures, and time and cost savings for consumers. The hospitality industry tends to embrace the ‘next shiny object’ rather than looking at the fundamentals, but digitization is a staple set to revolutionize and streamline the travel process, from pre-stay all the way to post-stay. The modern travel experience is far removed (and enhanced) from what it used to be. Where prospective travelers were previously expected to lean on local travel agents for the planning portion of their trips, we now have online booking channels and chatbots to assist in those preliminary steps. The hindrance still being the inability to, without human interpretation, answer some of the most basic questions that motivate a traveler in the first place.
We are seeing a definitive rise in mobile bookings, self-serve technology, machine learning, IoT, AI and self-serve technologies to remove friction such mobile keys, mobile concierge, self-service kiosks, data-driven marketing, geo-fencing, voice-assistants, and more. Not only does digitization allow for increased efficiency, but it empowers each guest to choose their preferred experience while hotels gain a more informed understanding of their preferences.
Tapping into the demand for increased personalization, hotels can now offer customers customized preferences based on either their historical data or similar booking persona (room preferences, room service, additional amenities, toiletries, etc.). Further, hotels and airlines are now integrating with device neutral technology to offer check-in and alert capabilities however the guest decides to access the information, be it through a computer, a smartphone, or with wearable device.
2. Intuitive PMS Solutions, Integrations and Guest Dashboards
Rather than having multiple, potentially competing or cumbersome physical systems at work, hoteliers, are in need of comprehensive technology solutions that provide an overview of guest profiles, bookings and room management, revenue management, and more. They need a dashboard that is user-friendly and allows them to not only make sense of the critical data which influences crucial decisions, strategies and customer relationship management, but to also become once again active players in the guest experience while on, and off site.
With cloud-based integration capabilities, hoteliers can connect their internal systems to various platforms with ease and mobilize their staff in a way that wasn’t before possible. Hoteliers reap the rewards of increased security, improved training protocols for new staff and the provision of digitalized context to the many streams of guest data that was once scattered across various platforms and touch-points.
There’s no denying it — now is an exciting time to in the hospitality industry, as we continue to embrace the solutions which are expected to transform the hospitality experience for hoteliers and guests alike.
3. Attribute-Based Selling
Attribute-Based Selling is the idea that instead of selling hotel rooms by classification into room categories, guests can control their purchase path, put together and pay for the room attributes or features they care for and that have value to them. If you're not quite sure what I am talking about, I really want to encourage you to read George Roukas' article on Attribute Based Selling. It explains all the ins and outs, and all the advantages and almost magical things it promises to solve. It is not a completely new idea; in the late nineties, the early 2000's, and just recently again, major systems vendors did indeed build feature inventory engines, but we have yet to see a single one in use today. That is because Attribute Based Selling (or selling room features), was found to be entirely incompatible with managing the availability by room categories. It is indeed a challenge but a challenge that is ready to be met and conquered.