Hotels leave no stone unturned in today’s extremely competitive business environment, and a key weapon in their arsenal is technology. However, with technology in a constant state of flux and constantly unlocking new opportunities to improve customer satisfaction and boost internal efficiency, hotels have their task cut out leveraging technology to remain one-up on competition.
Here are the many ways hotels use technology to boost their competitive advantage.
The most apparent manifestation of technology in the hotel industry is hotel bookings. The internet also obviously makes accessing information easy, and transparent. Data such as check-in and checkout times, rates, facilities on offer, and other key details allow guests to make informed decisions.
Popular websites such as booking.com, agoda.com, hotels.com, and even websites of hotel chains, such as ibis.com and others are now the default way people search for room, deals and make bookings. There are already websites that compare deals and offers from various websites, and with technology advancing, the day is not far off when potential guests can experience their room in a virtual reality setting, before making a booking. Improved analytics may also allow guests to select hotels with facilities that best match their tastes, interest, and convenience. Hotels that do not embrace technology and facilitate such options for their guests stand to miss out big time.
Today’s customers are highly knowledgeable and see through marketing pitches instantly. They are more likely to take official communication, even if true, with a pinch of salt. They increasingly rely on social media to seek reviews and recommendations from genuine travelers. In such a state of affairs, hotels are increasingly investing in enhancing their social media presence through brand ambassadors, brand advocates, influencers and others. Large hotels now even have dedicated social media teams, scanning the internet, and responding to bad reviews, hoping to make amends.
A positive social media reputation works wonders in terms of hotel occupancy. About 87% of TripAdvisor users feel more confident when they read travel reviews, and about 98% find such reviews “accurate of the actual experience.”
Technology has shifted the balance of power toward guests, and hotels have no option but to work harder to match customer expectations.
Enhancing Guest Experience
The latest technological advances contribute greatly to making check in and check out, and other guest related processes easy, seamless, and fast. Self check-in and checkout through electronic kiosks, online check in, online payments, and more all does away with the lines and long wait times, both major pain points for long. The latest technology allows guests use their smartphones as the room key, enabling them to proceed straight to their rooms. Likewise, guests can check out with a few clicks of the smartphone, and avoid the reception altogether.
Hilton Worldwide already offers guests the ability to check in and out, select their room, check maps and make extra requests or purchases, from their smartphones. For those who think such benefits are too exaggerated, all they need to do is try and check in or check out of a Las Vegas hotel on Sunday noon.
From a marketing perspective, technology allows hotels to target their prospects and customers better. A basic manifestation is hotels reminding business guests about their meeting room schedules, targeting specific groups, such as those who have arrived for a convention, with special deals or offers, and more. The ability to connect with targets in real time reduces marketing costs while increasing effectiveness at the same time.
Streamlining Internal Processes
Technology allows hotels to become lean and mean, and make their internal processes more seamless and effective.
A customer relationship management (CRM) suite allows organizing and managing information from a central console, enabling guest relations executives to get the complete history of the customer, when interacting with her.
A marketing automation suite makes it possible to customize interactions with guests, send automated emails to guests as required, and do more with less effort.
The future holds much more promise. The hotel could, for instance, leverage deep analytic to structure a package comprising of facilities best suited for the guests. For instance, if the guest is coming for a vacation, the package may include a sightseeing trip, and business visitors may be given access to meeting rooms.
Smart appliances and home automation solutions are a godsend for the hotel industry, with automated temperature control, lighting, alarms, TV, radio, blinds, and other technological innovation contributing to improved customer satisfaction, and improved services, while reducing overheads at the same time. Guests may, for instance, turn the air conditioner on through an app installed on their smartphone, to ensure optimal temperature when they enter the room. For the hotel, this is a much cost-effective solution compared to leaving the air conditioner on at all times.
With travelers becoming increasingly tech-savvy, hotels who do not embrace the latest technology to deliver innovative services to their guests stand out to lose big time. However, keeping abreast of the changing technology, and developing cutting edge solutions based on such technology is a big challenge for hotels, and would in any case be a drag on their core focus. Hotels would rather do well to partner with our experienced and talented team to develop technology related solutions. We have extensive experience in developing highly customized solutions for hotel and related industries.