Reduce costs, buy more efficient technology, embrace automation – just some of the actions being hollered around virtual boardrooms of hospitality businesses over the last few months. And all are good options, and essential moves in this environment. But long-term resilience to huge market changes will not come about from knee jerk reactions.
Preserving cash was the first and fundamental shift that all hospitality business leaders had to tackle. As travel resumes in lower and unpredictable patterns, there are long term factors to consider in order to ensure that hospitality can be a robust business sector in the future.
By acting now, and embracing just some of the future opportunities technology presents, hotel brands have a fighting chance to emerge fit-for-purpose. These are an overview of the investment opportunities for hoteliers right now, and ones we identify as having the ability to drive differentiation and simplicity for guests to make your hotel business more attractive and profitable than the competition.
- Same customer, different trip
Most hotels don’t sell based on customer segments, but instead business segments. This overlooks the need to have a long term relationship with the guest, and understand that they have different needs when taking different trips.
- Break down generic inventories
Selling room categories such as ‘double’ and ‘twin’ is no longer enough. Guests need greater granularity of choice, and for some inclusions are prepared to pay more. Allowing people to pick and choose what they value and will spend on, allows both personalisation and the upselling of additional services.
2. Encompass future demand into revenue management
The one certainty of the COVID-19 pandemic is that future patterns of demand will be very uncertain. Basing pricing on historic trends is not relevant. Revenue management needs to shift to take into account early warning triggers for possible demand such as increased air traffic or new events going ahead in a certain location.
3. Harness AI to optimise profit
Different purposes for stays drive different types of demand. AI can analyse patterns and behaviour and apply this to hotel operations such as resource planning. More accurately predicting the people required to manage different types of business can aid optimising profit.
4. Personalise the retail experience
Hotel websites need to get better at recognising who is the person travelling, and what experiences will be relevant to them. Serving up generic property and product benefits is not enough, and doesn’t provide enough opportunities for relevant e-commerce.
5. Empower with automated messaging
The technology behind bots can work harder for your business. Voice and text analysis has the ability to make call centres more efficient. The right technology will recognise and understand a request, routing it quickly to the right agent for an accurate response.
6. Online accounts with joined up billing
Guests should be able to order anything and everything from an online account, via a mobile device, and see the changes to their billing in real time. Consider ensuring the ability to split bills, top up online accounts, or click and collect – all ways guests spend in other areas of their lives.
Technology investment is about harnessing trends that make life easier – and more relevant – to guests, alongside providing new opportunities to merchandise different things. The guest contact journey should be seamless, enjoyable and provide your business with more data to personalise e-commerce experiences yet further into the future.
Tim Davis is managing director of hospitality and travel specialist management consultancy PACE Dimensions. For more information please visit: https://pacedimensions.com/research/whitepapers/why-reappraising-business-priorities-is-essential-to-thriving-in-the-future/