HOSPITALITY DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY: CHALLENGES, PRIORITIES AND BUZZWORDS
Today’s typical online travel consumer is exposed to more than 38,983 micro-moments in a 60-day timeframe and visits an average of 18 websites via multiple devices across eight sessions before making a hotel booking (Google Research).
With the explosion of the ‘digital way of life’, the customer journey has become increasingly complex, forcing hoteliers to overhaul not only their corporate and marketing strategies, but also their technology stack in order to engage, acquire, service and retain these digitally-enabled travel consumers across multiple digital touch points and across all digital channels and devices.
Today’s hospitality is being transformed into a 100% digital technology-enabled industry powered by online, mobile, cloud, IoT, AI and blockchain tools and applications. Digital technology is making its way into every aspect of the industry: hotel operations, guest services, communications, revenue management, distribution, CRM and marketing.
Today’s hotelier must understand, know and use digital tech solutions in their everyday environment, and be able to assess, evaluate, recommend and acquire technology solutions to improve guest satisfaction, operational efficiencies, productivity, customer service and revenue.
TYPES OF GUEST-FACING HOSPITALITY DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY
If we set aside the traditional hotel operations, administrative/back office and HR technology, and the hotel engineering infrastructure and “mechanical” technology (all of which are typically “hidden” from the guests), there are two categories of guest-facing digital technology:
Guest Engagement, Acquisition, and Retention Technology – these are technology applications focused on engaging and bringing the guest to the property, continuing the conversation pre-, during and post-stay and eventually turning the guest into a loyal and repeat guest.
Guest Services Technology – these are on-property hardware devices and appliances, and software applications (on-premises or cloud-based) that provide or enhance guest services, improve guest comfort and satisfaction and enable customer service and communications.
Today, the vast majority of hoteliers are primarily focused on and investing in Guest Services Technology, while underinvesting in Guest Engagement, Acquisition and Retention Technology.
Unlike hoteliers, the OTAs are focused exclusively and investing only in Guest Engagement, Acquisition and Retention Technology since they do not have to worry about on-property technology and guest experiences. In other words, hoteliers’ technology focus and investments end where the OTA focus and investment begin.
It’s no wonder that over the last 6 years the OTAs have increased their market share by over 40% at the expense of the hotel direct channel. By investing heavily in technology applications to engage the traveler at all possible touchpoints of the customer journey, OTAs have monopolized the guest relationships and left hoteliers in the dust.
This is particularly true for independent hotels and resorts, smaller and mid-size hotel brands. Read More...