The speed of technological innovation has accelerated over the last few years. The global health crisis poured rocket fuel into the engines of innovation and resulted in a wave of technological adoption whose breadth and speed was unprecedented. The travel industry has not been left behind. Hit hard by the lockdown periods and the need to maintain social distancing, the industry has struggled to return to the growth of the pre-pandemic period. Technology will be key in revolutionizing the industry so that it can be profitable, considering that experts believe the coronavirus will be with us for a while yet. Hotel contracting is an area I am especially interested in, and its interactions with technology have been truly profound.
Agility is Everything
All travel businesses, whether they are hotels, tour operators, agencies or corporate travel platforms, are always looking to be more agile. A travel business has to be able to rapidly, continuously and systematically adapt to new technologies and conditions and innovate to gain and maintain a competitive advantage. Constant and deliberate evolution is the natural mindset of the successful travel business. Hotel contractors realise this and this defines how they are trying to meet the challenges of the global pandemic. This starts with a complete, 360° look at all facets of the business, from accounts to sales and marketing.
A fundamental part of this is measurement. You can’t measure everything, but if it can be measured, and it matters, then you must measure it. Measurement allows a business to make more concrete, objective decisions. Allying measurement with data tools will help businesses unearth insights that they would otherwise have never been able to discover.
Using the measurable and unmeasurable data and insights that a business unearths, a business is able to make sometimes radical and sometimes subtle changes that dramatically improve performance in the long run. Sometimes, as we see with many hotel contractors, the changes seem “negative”. A contractor may strive to do something less badly, rather than trying to do something well. Or, these insights might lead to path-breaking solutions. The important thing is that a hotel contractor, operating in a hyper-competitive market, is able to develop solutions that improve their agility, reduce complexity and allow them to focus their energies on the sale of hotel rooms and the development of rich guest experiences.
We are living at a time of incredible uncertainty and the need for agility has seldom been higher. Hotel contractors have to find new ways to increase hotel supply in an environment in which the best laid plans can be completely upended at the drop of a hat.
Move Fast, But Retain Control
There are significant problems with a business model that relies on direct hotel contracting and tapping wholesalers. Wholesalers prevent hotel contractors from having the control and flexibility they need to provide agile solutions. This threatens the quality of guest experience, which becomes harder to improve given the diminished control of the model. For instance, using a bed banker can make it difficult to locate where a booking originated from, because that booking may have been sold multiple times before that guest booked the room.
Another area of concern is direct contracting, which can be a painfully slow process. Firstly, direct contracting requires such a wealth of software solutions that it is both costly and overly complex.
Solutions like Impala’s Connectivity and Contracting API, have been able to develop innovative technologies that are both fast and easy to use, allowing room for room sellers to take their sales to the next level.
Success Under Uncertainty
By creating a connection between hotels and room sellers to create novel guest experiences, a number of benefits are achieved. Using Impala’s Connectivity solution, checking a hotel room’s availability becomes more streamlined and bookings are more efficiently managed.
In the past, it would take months to get from approaching a hotel to finalising a deal, now it takes place a thousand times faster and more effectively.
Impala makes it easy to reach an audience of thousands of hotels. For those who have struggled with costly integration, long negotiations, tonnes of calls and emails, Impala is the perfect solution.
Strengthen Your Relationships With Your Partners
The uptake of technology and novel solutions has increased the opportunities available to strengthen relationships with partners.
The truth is that hotels tend to treat guests who booked directly with greater favour than those who have a more distant relationship with the hotel. This makes sense because guests who book directly do so because they are real fans of the hotel, and a hotel feels it has to build that relationship in order to increase recurring revenue from that guests. Guests who book through third parties such as wholesalers, do not have as close a relationship to the hotel and investing in building a relationship with such guests can seem so costly and riddled with the risk of failure, that hotels shy away from attempts to strengthen such relationships.
Travel businesses can help hotels gain insight as to where bookings come from, by leveraging the latest technology. They can also help hotels build relationships with guests who come from third party booking platforms, by using their data to offer customized deals, deals which add value to all concerned, bring transparency to transactions and strengthen relationships across the board.
Technology comes with the promise that in a hyper-competitive environment in which hotels have been forced to focus on a fight for survival, hotels may now be able to focus their energies on growing and thriving.
Hotel booking is increasingly done online and through third party platforms. This is the arena that has most been transformed by technology. The internet makes it easier for guests to search for lodging options tailored to their experience and budgetary demands, in a transparent and friendly way. This poses a challenge for hotels who thrive on direct relationships. Yet, these technologies need not pose a threat to hotels. Hotel contractors have access to a wealth of data and insights which hotels can use to add value to their business models. Discover more on your journey toward improving your service offering and insights.