The pandemic era has really taken a club to the financial and operating results of hotel businesses. Occupancy rates and revenue plunged to record lows as stay-at-home orders and later, social distancing mandates and fear of contamination on the part of travellers, kept hotel occupancy low. It’s only in the last few months that there has been a recovery and some kind of return to pre-pandemic occupancy levels. Hotels are leaning on technology to help drive their recovery and earn better profits. This is especially important given the wage pressures that businesses are facing at present, as well as other hiring issues. Hotel businesses have increasingly relied on labor productivity software to optimize their staffing. They have also relied more on online purchase order systems so they can to use their resources with greater efficiency and effectiveness. In many other ways, technology is playing a bigger part in the hotel sector than it ever has. In this article, we will discuss how technology will drive recovery in the hotel business.
The Benefits of Cloud
The pandemic compressed a decade’s worth of transformation into a few short months. That process of evolution is still ongoing. Businesses had to rely on technology in order to enable remote work, store data in ways that made it available to distributed teams and employees, and achieve many other goals necessitated by the pandemic. That transformation has taken on a certain momentum, with budgets committed and a realization of the fragility of the old way of doing things.
Cloud technology has been especially important in this technological transformation. It is, in many ways, the foundation of the digital transformation that we are seeing, allowing businesses to build their technology solutions on top of it, making it accessible to staff, guests and other parties, from all over the globe. Cloud technology there allows you to scale you own technology solutions and deploy them on a global scale. Agility is the great gift of cloud and the best hotel businesses have been aggressive in focusing their attention on the aspects of their business that most drive the creation of economic value, then following that with their new-found agility and speed to develop and enhance those key drivers of economic value. Having a hotel business’ technology solutions on cloud has helped many hotel businesses meet the challenges of the pandemic and improve their profitability.
With technology solutions available on the cloud, a hotel can easily change their room and property availability, making the changes accessible to everyone. They can do the same for the services they offer. And at a time when the industry is struggling with labor issues, a hotel business can use cloud-based technology to improve their processes and adopt greater levels of automation.
The hotel sector has traditionally been very conservative in its adoption of technology to improve guest experience. Nevertheless, the global pandemic forced a more open and radical approach to the adoption of technology. One of the biggest ways this has happened is with texting platforms that allow guests to directly communicate with their hotel. There is a great desire on the part of guests to have access to such platforms. These technologies are useful not just for the stay but even for pre-arrival and where necessary, after their stay. In the pre-arrival, hotels can use the texting platforms to welcome their guests before their arrival and encourage their guests to complete a registration form so that checking-in is easier.
Hotels like Best Western use texting platforms so they can upsell and convey their policies, among them the health and safety protocols adopted as a response to Covid-19. Best Western has found that its guests prefer to use the texting platform rather than phones, to make orders and place requests. Texting platforms have proved beneficial to the hotel group and its guests. For instance, a hotel can be more flexible about its staffing because rather than having some man a phone at all times, they can have more flexible staffing policies given that texts do not have to be immediately responded to. On the other hand, guests experience higher levels of satisfaction.
At a time when Covid-19 has created a shift away from technologies and processes that require contact, texting software allows for more hygienic and more efficient solutions. The communication channel not only meets the rising expectations of guests, it also gives hotels an avenue to earn ancillary revenue while nurturing their relationship with the guest.
Even prior to the pandemic, it was evident that consumers and more precisely, guests, prefer to communicate with businesses through mobile phone and desktop apps, and websites. So not only are contactless technologies essential for sanitary reasons, they are what guests want across their guest journey.
In the future, we will see messaging platforms connected to operations platforms. This will not only preserve the ability of guests to interact with their hotel, it will convert requests into actionable tickets that staff can react to.
Infographic created by Clover, a retail POS system company
The Landscape is Changing
Artificial intelligence (AI), privacy and security will be the most important technologies and technology concerns of the new technology era. Politically, there is a desire to secure the privacy and security of consumers. Fundamentally, consumer technologies are more important than ever. In a world in which hotels will use more and more data to improve their services and enhance guest satisfaction, it will be important to keep in line with regulations on privacy and security and the concerns of their guests.
AI will have a big role to play in enhancing the guest experience, by using its insights to help hotels deliver optimal solutions, while finding ways to increase guest engagement, firstly to nurture the relationship with the guest, and secondly, as a way of learning more about that guest. We have to emphasise again that given the importance of data collection to the unearthing of insights by AI systems, it will be important to secure the privacy rights of guests and ensure data security.
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