Last month, hotel marketing agency Fuel Travel released a 2018 Hospitality Technology Study, which takes a look at how both hoteliers and their suppliers feel about the current state of hotel technology.
In this study recap, I will be focusing on the top 3 takeaways from the hotelier perspective and share their major challenges and the priorities they will focus on in the next year.
Takeaway 1. Integration Between Technologies is Lacking
The very first question that was asked to hoteliers is their top three technology challenges today. The number one answer was “Lack of Integration Between Products”. The second was “Increasing Costs”, third was “Consumer Expectations”.
If you think about it, the top challenge of lack of integration has a waterfall effect on the other two challenges. When systems don’t talk to one another and seamlessly provide information between them, it creates extra steps in the process which increases costs for the hotel and at the same time can have a negative effect on the guest experience.
Here is a quote from a former hotel manager on the importance of integration:
“I worked for a 70-unit resort in Hawaii which had a PMS and also kept track of guest requests on a paper ledger. For communication, used radios internally between staff and would communicate to guests via in-room phones.
With the phone system as it was, there was no "call back" feature or the ability to look up who had just called the front desk. If we didn't immediately write down the right room number and request, we'd have to wait for the guest to call back angry that they didn't receive the item they requested. HORRIBLE process and it resulted in a lot of unhappy guests.”
With 55% of hoteliers are not satisfied with their current PMS, hotels that are still using outdated processes and non-integrated systems think that they are minimizing costs, but in actuality, they are increasing costs from a time and resource perspective and potentially losing revenue because it’s causing guests to be unhappy.
Maybe it’s not the PMS software itself that hoteliers are not satisfied with. It could be that vendors are not effectively communicating what is possible with the software, which leads the hoteliers to think that the software is not capable of doing what they need.
Before you jump into an agreement with a new technology provider, make sure you communicate to them which systems you are currently using and make sure they are able to integrate with them. Additionally, if they are an experienced vendor, they should also be providing guidance on which of your technologies can and should be integrated in order to maximize workflow efficiency.
Even though it is a challenge to integrate with every software that is out in the market, there are integration tools out there like Zapier which helps make the integration process easier for hotels.
Learn more about Zapier Integrations.
Takeaway 2: It’s All About the Guest Experience
When hoteliers were asked which technologies do they believe will impact the hospitality industry the most over the 12 months, the number one answer was “Improving Guest Experience”. The second was “Mobility” and third was “Analytics/Insights”.
This was not a surprise to me. From talking with our hotel clients and listing to sales calls, the concept of improving guest experience seems to be at the top of everyone’s minds.
It makes total sense. For hotels, the guest experience is directly related to revenue, so It’s not a shocker that hotels would want to focus on providing a better and differentiated experience than their competitors.
Again, if you look at the top three answers, they all directly relate to each other.
There are several aspects of the guest experience that mobile and analytics contribute to.
Delivering a memorable guest experience is all about convenience and personalization. Hotels must enable guests to get whatever they want, whenever they want and they even expect hotels to know what they want before they ask for it.
With mobile devices being at the center of everyone’s lives, leveraging the smartphone as a way to enhance the guest experience enables hotels to connect with guests anywhere they are in a convenient way.
With the emergence of mobile for applications for room keys, in-room entertainment/temperature controls, as well as in-app communication via chat and text messaging for guests to ask questions and request things they need, more hotels need to get on board with mobile as a way to better serve guests.
The fewer guests have to wait for service to be fulfilled the happier they will be.
From an analytics/insights perspective, the more information hotels can get from each guest enables them to provide a more personalized service. By collecting guest information throughout various interaction points can help build a guest profile that can make guests feel special.
For example, if your hotel collects guest preference information from guests during the booking process, your staff can leverage that data to personalize their stay upon checking in like providing extra pillows or rollaway bed for the kids.
Takeaway 3: The ROI of Technology
When hoteliers were asked what factors should be considered most when investing in any new solution, their top response was “ROI (Return on Investment)”. The second was “Integrating to Current Solution”, third was “Reliability”.
Although all of the top three answers are important, it ultimately comes down to the bottom line.
If you just implemented the most reliable and easy to use solution but it’s not showing you any positive return on investment, it’s still on the chopping block to get cut during the next budget meeting.
Every piece of software that a hotel implements should have a clear return on investment, whether it’s monetary or not, as not all ROI can be translated into hard dollars.
In addition to using revenue as a key metric for ROI, you can measure it in these ways:
Time Savings: Did the software help reduce the time your staff needs to complete a certain task? Ex. Using the new text messaging software helped us reduce phone calls by 25%.
Resource Reduction: Did the software help reduce staff count? Ex. Having the reservation kiosk reduced the amount of concierge staff.
Online Reviews: Did the software help generate more positive reviews after we implemented it? Ex. The new review software boosted our TripAdvisor reviews by 45%.
Hotel technology solutions providers need to find ways to accurately track & measure the effect their software has on their clients to build trust with them and ensure them that they made the right decision by choosing them.
Hospitality technology will continue to play a huge part in shaping how hotels operate and in tackling major challenges within the guest experience. The key to improvement lies in understanding the guest journey and ways use to leverage technology to improve processes in a way that benefit your guests.
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