Senior Vice President of Travel and Hospitality, DataArt
First, the good news: For those enjoying careers in the hospitality field, the digital age disruption hasn’t delivered a fatal blow.
“While AirBnB and OYO have arguably impacted hotel profits, hotels and their physical assets appear resilient,” explained Greg Abbott, senior vice president of Travel & Hospitality at DataArt. “Or, perhaps consumers are simply more willing to tolerate the slow pace of change, advocating that hotels are indeed adapting to technology with keyless entry and mobile check-in.”
Still, the time has come for widespread technology innovation. The key to making the transformation is converging the hotel’s Central Reservation System (CRS) and Property Management System (PMS), which improves how hotels process their bookings and manage stays. Taking that leap won’t be easy or cheap.
Travelers want a hotel experience that is at least as technologically advanced as what they have at home.
“Customers expect to easily ‘screen cast’ their personal entertainment/content from their devices on the TV screen, experience great Wi-Fi, and control their room temperature from their phone,” Abbott said. “Some hotel chains are offering advanced functionality via their proprietary mobile applications.”
With voice-controlled systems, hotels will be able to differentiate their in-room services with a skills platform, such as Amazon’s Alexa for Hospitality, to offer room-service order processing; light, shade, and temperature control; music; and local services search.
“Once the hub is connected to the hotel’s loyalty program, activation of personal features within pre-selected rooms will become a standard at premium and luxury hotels,” Abbot said.
Abbott says the current evolution of chat and guest messaging could become the most useful tech solution since keyless entry and mobile check-in.
“Hoteliers were at first quite fearful of embracing chat,” he said. “They didn’t want to further burden their already strained-capacity guest operations team. Over the past year, the fear is evaporating, as hoteliers witness how chat and messaging can automate redundant and tedious tasks, freeing up their teams to focus on delivering exceptional service.”
Understanding the process
Hotel owners should consider what they control and manage, and where their key data resides before implementing tech solutions. How the tech partner integrates with other third-party tech suppliers is also a consideration.
Also, as central operational systems move to the Cloud, the role of IT within the hotel team shifts.
“Wider members of the team will need to have tech-chops,” Abbot said. “Revenue managers will move from Excel sheets to Cloud-based solutions.”
A promising future
While the challenges may seem overwhelming, there’s reason to be hopeful.
“There are a few well-funded larger players who see the advantages that a converged CRS & PMS can unlock for hotel assets,” Abbot said. “These are exciting times for hoteliers, as they select the right platforms upon which they can redesign and renew their competitive advantage with their guests.”
Cindy Riley, [email protected]