A professor at the ESSEC Business School had a fantastic webinar with IdeaS, Siteminder, and Revinate. His name is Peter O’Connor, and he looked at the future of the Hotel Industry in 2020. He did two things in his research:
1) He held a think tank session with the senior operational managers and consultants of hotels.
2) He conducted a written survey with a lot of hoteliers.
He asked these groups a couple of questions: Who will be the guest of 2020 and what systems based on the technology will hotelier use that year?
Who is the Guest of 2020?
Both the think tank session and survey respondents gave the same answers when they have experienced this query. The answer is predictable. Both groups know that the guests are now sophisticated and tech-savvy travelers. They have high expectations in personalization, and they want a unique experience. However, how can hotels achieve this? To become successful, you should understand your guest. Not following the hoteliers, web visitors and guests will make the hotel fall behind the industry’s emerging trends.
What technology systems should hotels implement by 2020?
Break down the answers by organizing into hotel software into two buckets: Customer Focused Systems and Data Focused Systems.
Data Focused systems
A lot of people talk about the term “big data.” However, they rarely use it in the hotel industry. They don’t leverage the information in the right way. Here are the four primary systems based on the responses:
1) Machine Learning and AI based systems – They usually use this in other sectors like retail. But people barely utilized in the hotel industry.
2) Predictive Analytics – You can predict the future by leveraging data sets.
3) Management Dashboard – Better internal communication of data.
4) Middleware – Introduction software that acts as a bridge between systems and data.
You may ask the experts which of these systems are essential and urgent to put in place. Machine Learning and AI based systems may be their usual response. They believe that once these are in place, everything else may stem from it.
Customer Focused systems
Here are the three critical systems:
1) Integrated Message – You should have a single view of the guest. You may ask the guests about the same data for a lot of times during the booking process. It includes where they plan to stay even if they are frequent visitors. Hotels usually want the guests’ ‘apple like’ view. They can identify them across various distribution channels. None of the predictive analytics will work without it.
2) Customer Profiler – Better understand the needs of the guest. Doing this will allow you to target their marketing efforts online. Email is now passé. People consider it as a foreign concept to most travelers. Hotels should adapt to new forms of communication like instant messaging.
3) Communication Beacons – These systems will allow you to push the right messages to the right guests. You will be able to do this at the right time. If you know someone who practices yoga, inform them about a session the following day. Do this once they get back to their room the night before.
Whenever you ask the experts, their response will be Integrated Messaging system.
However, if there is a lot of potentials to improve the technology systems, why were the original respondents suggesting software they developed 20 years ago? The answer to this is that there may be roadblocks whenever you get new technology for hotels.
Here are the four top barriers to put the new technology in place:
People sometimes hold the customers’ hotel data in siloes. Only a few hotel systems can integrate with each other. It means that they do not have a single guest profile. They can get all the systems to talk to one another. However, it is not happening fast enough and is one of the progress’ biggest barriers.
Data Protection / Privacy
Data protection and confidentiality have connections to the lack of integration. The prime target of hackers for a long time are hotels. There should be severe limitations in place when it comes to what you may store for the guest. These limits should have focused on the guest and the development of data.
Difficulty in the creation of a business case
It is now increasingly difficult to demonstrate the cost of new technology. Vendors who go to hotels to introduce new systems should efficiently show how the system will add to the top and bottom line of the revenue of the hotel.
Pioneering spirit (or lack thereof)
Only a few hotels want to push the barriers. They are more comfortable to stick with what they know. No one may want to lead the innovation. The hotel industry should have a new breed of managers that have various competencies and skill sets. They should also have an open mind.
In summary, there is a need to reflect the growth of peer-to-peer markets like the AirBnB. They should adapt to the needs of the user and flexibly deliver highly personalized experiences. Hoteliers should be able to leverage their assets and understand their guests. Hotels may have an enormous wealth of information about their consumers – what they book, when they book, what they watch on TV, if they are alone or with family and what they eat for breakfast. Hotels have to use all of this information so they can keep up with the other industries.