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The e-Commercing of Hospitality

The Amazonization of hospitality is reaching saturation level. Restaurants and hotels have been taking notes from the digital giant for some time to mimic the success of the online retailer. In this month’s cover story, Mike Nettles, SVP, chief information & digital officer of Papa John’s, believes that restaurants that don’t view themselves as e-commerce companies are at a disadvantage.

“Customer feedback reveals that Papa John’s is compared to Amazon far more frequently than it is to direct competitors in terms of the ordering experience,” he says. “If we don’t make it as easy for guests to part with their money as Amazon does, then we’re missing out on some big opportunities. Restaurants are being compared to the best digital experiences.”

In HT’s April cover story, Choice Hotels’ CIO Todd Davis echoed a similar sentiment. In describing the choiceEDGE distribution platform, he asserts that hotel systems need to sell many things beyond rooms as guests are accustomed to online retailers that offer comprehensive inventories and one click ordering. 

This business shift doesn’t mean that service or personalization is any less important. On the contrary, data gathered for Hospitality Technology’s 2017 Customer Engagement Technology Study, reveals that 65% of consumers prefer to interact directly with employees of a hotel or restaurant. This represents a disconnect from the 44% of respondents who believe that technology enhances the experience and the 47% that want to use innovative technology at restaurants and hotels.

The gap between those consumer types is where opportunity lies. It is where lessons can be learned and best practices applied to turn restaurants into leaders rather than followers in today’s “eat-commerce” culture and give hotels the power to upsell on experience. A new business paradigm is emerging, and it might require a new term, because the age of e-Hospitality is upon us.

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