Part 3 of 3
Integrating Technology to Drive More Revenue
In the previous part of this blog series, we discussed Guest Sentiment and your Online Presence. In the 3rd and final part of the blog series, Building a Revenue Centric Culture in your Hotel, we will discuss the topic of Integrating Hotel Technology to Drive More Revenue.
Back in 2008 while I was working for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, I remember my boss always saying Speed to Market is the key to driving market share. She was a champion for technology development and always looking for the best, quickest and most seamless ways to integrate hotel technology in order to drive more market share. It was a lesson for me early on that technology is a key component in the hotel eco-system and driving revenue.
It is incredible to see the great advances in hotel technology we have made over the last decade. It is true, as an industry, we had to adapt to such rapid growth. However, many experts also say that as an industry, we are still way behind on technological advances.
A study by EY Global pointed out that internet travel booking revenue has grown by more than 73% over the past five years. At the same time, the competition to gain control of the distribution channel has intensified. Through acquisitions of property management and digital marketing platforms, online travel agents (OTAs) are providing additional services to encourage hoteliers to distribute rooms on their sites.
As the big chains have the budgets for technology and marketing power to address these issues, many independent hotels or smaller chains are left feeling overwhelmed in trying to make similar advances in technology. Because of this, it´s imperative that hotels understand the options available to them. Find the solutions that work the best for you and your staff and at the same time, understand that hotel technology is a very valuable investment. Do not rush into the decision and take your time to explore the different providers and what kind of integrations/interfaces are possible between the various systems so that everything is “talking”.
According to the Hotel Tech Report, The average hotel runs on more than 20 different technology systems and that number continues to grow with the shift to cloud architectures and open API environments. Although that number might be a bit lower for stand-alone and independent hotels it is still a staggering statistic and brings some light to the fact that we must look for a more holistic approach to hotel technology development. Let us explore a few ways that you can start building a revenue centric culture through technology developments in your hotel(s).
- Distribution: The ideal distribution system would look a lot like the below graphic, perhaps with some variations, however, the key here is obviously to have all of your distribution channels managed in one place. This will ensure that your rates and availability is always up to date and your PMS is sitting with the freshest data possible. If your current ecosystem is not close to the one displayed below, consider making some investment to ensure that all systems are integrated. This will free up some time for the distribution tasks and allow for more time on strategy and analytics.
- Revenue Management : As this goes hand in hand with Distribution, it is important to also have your RM tool integrated with your hotel technology ecosystem system. Effective revenue management is dependent on aggregated information from various sources to ensure revenue managers can quickly react to market changes. Consequently, it´s important to consolidate data from various systems and sources to make smart decisions. A revenue management suite or an all in one solution is a good first step that can help you make quick, intelligent decisions and have a speed to market approach in your sales strategy.
- Data and Analytics : As the first two parts of the technology ecosystem listed above are more operational tools, having advanced analytics and meaningful data is equally important to ensuring a successful sales strategy. The first step in this is data integrity. Having correct data to make these important decisions is mandatory. If your hotel is correctly equipped from a seamless technology perspective, then having correct data should follow. Access to data is the next step. If your distribution system is seamless, then most likely you will be able to retrieve quality reservation level data from your PMS. In order to effectively analyse your data, please check out my previous blog post (Blog Series Title: Managing seasonal market changes to ensure you stay on top Part 1). This can provide you with some useful insights on deep diving into data and correctly setting up a strategy around it.
- A reliable ORM tool – Another critical hotel technology system to have in place is a reliable ORM. This tool consolidates the wide range of data regarding online guest sentiment in one easy platform so that you can constantly improve your guest´s experience. Having technology that aggregates all of the data out there in a single platform can easily identify pain points of your hotel. Without such a powerful tool both positive and negative sentiments are often overlooked. This can often help to improve operational breakdowns in the hotel and lead to higher guest satisfaction.
- Mobile –Friendly Website : If you have not optimized your hotel website to be mobile-friendly, do it now, you are way behind the game. Google made changes to their algorithm in 2015 and updated that in 2016. Mobile friendly sites saw improved search rankings while un-friendly sites suffered the consequences. When we discuss Mobile-Friendly we do not stop with the hotel website. A study by Software Advice found that 60% of consumers are likely to choose smartphone-enabled hotels. Nowadays it´s common to see hotels adopting such technologies as mobile check-in, and keyless room entry via your mobile phone. Mobile apps can be created in order to push more interaction with your guests, send them pre-arrival welcome notes and help them arrange various activities inside and outside of the hotel. Send them room service or spa menus to encourage them to spend more on ancillary revenue. On a night with lower demand consider sending guests a note via the mobile app to extend their stay or enjoy a late check out which can drive additional revenue. The possibilities are endless, so in order to keep up with the expectations of guests and the industry in general, consider adopting some of the above technologies.
Hotels must comprehensively embrace technology in order to have solid analytics, drive business improvements, enhance guest´s experiences and deliver results. It is the job of the hotelier to keep up with rapid technology changes and assume the latest in technology. The success of these adoptions will differentiate successful hotels moving forward.
Karen Pawlikowski has spent over 15 years working with global hospitality brands such as Starwood Hotels and Resorts, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and Xotels in key Revenue Management roles. With her vast domain experience, Karen is currently working with RateGain in leading hotels through revenue and distribution optimization strategies to achieve more profitable business. Karen also acts as a liason between RateGain customer needs and the product development team to ensure that RateGain continues to exceed client expectations and remains leaders in hospitality technology.