The Hospitality industry has always been fast-moving, but this has never been more the case than now. Rapidly changing technology is resulting in huge alterations in the way hotel managers and marketers work. It has always been difficult to make predictions about what might happen in the years ahead.
After all, who could have foreseen in the late 1980s that those brick-like mobile phones would one day become powerful computers that fit into our pockets? However, based on current trends, what might lie ahead for hotels from a technological point of view? With a study by Hospitality Technology showing that 54 per cent of hotels will spend more on tech in 2016, let’s take a look at some of the possibilities. Hotel distribution this relates to the different channels that hotels market themselves across in order to stay visible to the consumer and there is already a move towards attribution modelling.
In the long term, it is likely that this will become stronger and allow hotels to better understand the value of each guest and to consequently provide relevant price upgrades and amenities. However, marketers will need to start to focus less on driving the most volume and more on which channels generate the greatest long-term value. For example, online channels might not provide much profit, but hotels need to be on them because it means they will be visible at the first stage of a traveller’s search. Meta sites are also likely to become more important, as long as hoteliers ensure they are providing the most competitive prices through this channel. The future of Online travel agencies (OTAs) were hugely important to hotel marketers just a few years ago, but property owners are increasingly seeing that direct relationships with guests enable more brand engagement and intimacy – and that might result in repeat bookings. This is resulting in many taking their business away from OTAs to avoid fees and add more profits to their own margins.
However, there may still be some value in OTA offerings in the future, particularly if they adapt to provide more relevant and searchable content. This is particularly the case for smaller hotels that may not have advanced revenue management and price intelligence systems in place and so need the extra exposure that OTAs can provide. As better technology becomes cheaper, though, even the smallest hotels are likely to see their relationship with OTAs diminish and equalise. Security According to Hospitality Technology’s study, payment security is the biggest priority for tech spending in 2016 and will take up 12 per cent of total IT budgets, and this is a trend that is only likely to continue. As brands collect more data about their guests, it is vital to ensure it is kept safe from prying eyes.
Furthermore, since cyber attacks are so frequent that it is now more a case of when brands will be hit than if, a barrier to protect sensitive information is essential if companies are to be seen as responsible and trustworthy. Looking forward, hotels will need to heavily invest in their PCI DSS compliance – a global standard to protect card payments – and also manage privacy across mobile and social media , as well as make sure that any third party services they use are also adhering to the same standards. The Internet of Things has been around for a while now, but we are increasingly seeing it become more widely adapted as people seek to manage their lives via their smartphones. This is no different in the Hospitality Marketing Agency and it is likely that hotel owners will want to improve their facilities by ensuring they can be managed from a central hub. For example, if central heating systems can be controlled from the front desk office, it means maintenance staff do not have to be dispatched every time there is a minor problem with individual control points.
Guests will also be able to make the most of this technology and enjoy TV controlled by their phones, air conditioning that can be switched on at the touch of a screen and many more functions we can so far only dream of. Data and personalisation Collecting data on guests and using it to personalise their stay is now becoming increasingly important in a world where people can easily move on to competitors.
In the future, it’s likely that hotel marketers will come up with ever-more ingenious ways of proving they are the best accommodation in town, something we are already seeing happen across the globe.For example, the top new tech roll outs this year have been tablets at front desks to provide information and services (27 per cent of hotels allocating capital to such projects); mobile payment (24 per cent) and mobile keys (23 per cent).Many marketers are also keen to upsell guests through pre-arrival and checkout offers, something that’s easy if they know enough about them.Looking ahead, 14 per cent of hoteliers said they think personal holograms have real-world potential as property concierges, so who knows what the capabilities of data, personalisation and new technology might bring?