by Rory Montgomery

The changing technological landscape

What's next for hotels in the emerging marketplace?

The changing technological landscape.jpg

This is the question many hoteliers and tech companies are asking, as we navigate the landscape of the digital revolution. What is next and what can we control going forward? When will the machines take over, or have they already taken over and are we merely playing catch up? Hospitality Technology International (Pty) Ltd (HTI) spends a lot of time, money and effort keeping abreast of the global trends in hotel technology, particularly in the sales, marketing and operations verticals. The sales and marketing game is changing; here is what HTI thinks the future holds for hotels and technology providers.

Social is King

With the advent of powerful community networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram, it is ever more important to be in control of your Online Reputation Management (ORM). What is your audience saying about your brand, and what experiences are they sharing on-line with their trusted community? The post-stay guest engagement is as important as the pre-stay and in-house experience and this is where hoteliers have the opportunity to take ownership of their guests.

This has also lead to the uprising of various tools that help to gather information about the guest experience and to collate this information, react to guest feedback and to further encourage brand loyalty.

By growing your social exposure and engaging with more communities organically, it is feasible to naturally and easily increase brand equity. Many hoteliers have strategically partnered with global distribution providers (we all know who they are), but those who have taken the opportunity to invest in proprietary booking platforms (enhancing the direct booking experience) will allow them to gain valuable insight into their guests and their preferences. This, in turn, will lead to measurable growth.

Big Data

This is in-line with other global trends in the tech space, namely the proliferation of data aggregation and smart technologies, such as Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, Google BigQuery – all of which has given rise to murmurs of Artificial Intelligence being of relevance in the hotel tech sector in the coming years.

How this will actually play out is still to be determined, but will certainly result in new and exciting guest engagement tools as well as in-room technologies that will be aimed at further capturing a more tech savvy market and the “next generation” traveller.

Mobile is the new medium

Mobile has certainly been gaining traction and is on the brink of overtaking desktop; transactional data has shown massive gains and confirms the importance of being omnipresent in a ‘mobile first’ world. Allowing the guest as well as the trade to engage via their mobile devices will become increasingly essential and lead the way in terms of transactional importance.

The key to encouraging meaningful engagement with customers is to provide a more content-rich yet simple and mobile-friendly transactional model. This also lends itself to the corporate objective of growing brand equity and awareness via multiple platforms, which is priceless in the organic search world.

Summary

This is the new and dynamic market that everybody is trying to tap into in order to gain an advantage and to attract a loyal and trusted client base.

How the technological landscape will change and what will be the next big thing may still be unknown to a certain extent, but for now, data insights and keeping on top of technological trends will allow for more calculated business decisions.

Ultimately successful hoteliers will need to stay relevant in order to capture market share based on the value of knowing what consumers are searching for in the global hotel marketplace.

Rory Montgomery, Executive Director, HTI

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