Influence of the modern day traveler has disrupted the monotone within the hospitality industry by giving rise to a wave of innovative ideas, ingenious solutions and permanent changes. Despite the amount of vulnerabilities faced by the global travel market, it has been expanding at a rapid pace. According to PhoCusWright, the industry will add $206 billion in gross bookings in the next four years, with two-thirds of the growth coming from emerging markets.
In this regard, recently in an opening presentation titled “Disruption’s curve,” PhoCusWright executives discussed some forces that could change the travel industry’s trajectory in the coming years, namely computing devices, mobile, delight, sharing economy and the future consumer.
As technology developments unfold at such relentless speeds – hotels and other hospitality setups have to keep up with the revolution. Accordingly, managers and directors should keep a tab on and track the below trends, which are not only the fundamental techniques to curb disruption in hospitality but have also brought forth a revolution!
Let’s have a look at some of the pointers that are rapidly changing the face of the global hospitality and travel market.
- Cloud or Software as a Service: SaaS is a mainstream technology topic in the hospitality sector today. Hoteliers are rapidly implementing the same to automate redundant processes such as hotel channel management and distribution. A case in point here is the Hunley Hotel & Golf Club that migrated its entire HMS (hotel management system) to the cloud, so as to reduce administrative and IT overheads. Besides, it’s an easier way to obtain regular upgrades within the application.
- Mobility: As the new face of computing, tablets and smartphones have revolutionized hotel check-in processes across the globe. For instance, serviced apartment specialist City Nites accesses its hotel management system on Apple iPads to eliminate old-fashioned, manual registration desk processes. This is a step towards rendering personalization as well as reducing static reception desk-related costs.
- A touch of personalization: Customers sometimes expect their hotel stay to be personalized. Approaches like welcome messages, customized food menus, and additional services can help a hotel deliver the same. This might lead to the creation of a wide range of valuable customer preference data, which can be fed into the hotel’s PMS (property management system).
- Social media: It is a huge influencer in the hospitality industry. We all know that TripAdvisor has become a crucial source of information for travelers across the globe. Other social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter also play a vital role in influencing guest behaviors. According to Hospitality Net, with more than 200 million reviews and opinions posted on TripAdvisor to date, and more than 800 million active users on Facebook posting updates and sharing images, social media is dominating the industry. From the perspective of conducting reputation management, according to Best Hospitality Degrees, after they pursue traditional avenues to redress, these upscale customers have been known to take their complaints to the hotel’s Twitter audience.
“You Can Ignore the Facts; You Can’t Deny the Facts” – Barack Hussein Obama II
The advent of the internet of things (IoT), coupled with smartphones as discussed earlier, has granted customers with a better access to plan, book, and control travel from remote locations. This caused the fall of traditional travel agents and was perfectly outlined in Thomas Cook’s $243 million loss in Q1, 2012. On the other hand, Airbnb closed a $475 million funding round at a reported $10 billion valuation last year, but less than a year later the sharing economy standard-bearer was worth over double, $25.5 billion to be specific. Priceline acquired meta-search provider Kayak, for $1.8 billion in 2013, and in 2014, SAP bought Concur, a business travel and expense management software provider for over $8 billion.
This throws light on the fact that disruption also comes with a huge amount of optimism, thereby indicating that travel and hospitality sectors are about to undergo a huge transformation in the near future. This is reinventing the complete customer lifecycle – right from booking to hotel-stay experience, to check out and beyond. So instead of becoming digitally disrupted, hotels have to become the digital disruptors themselves by delivering a unified guest experience to their patrons.