Travel and social interaction are the lifeblood of the hospitality industry, but both remain very much in short supply. Even as coronavirus vaccines are rolled out and individual markets show signs of recovery, operating conditions remain challenging worldwide.
The future does, however, have a way of coming around more quickly than people think. As conditions evolve, new opportunities are beginning to emerge—but only for those whose businesses are ready to move fast and seize growth.
Preparing for future growth means committing to the digital transformation that many have yet to fully embrace. More specifically, it means leveraging cloud.
Is now really the right time to embrace disruptive new technologies? Simply put, yes, transformation will give brands the tools they need for future success: insight to secure new business; efficiency to adapt and scale; and a platform to innovate and stand out.
Insight to secure new business
At a time when competition for any new business is high, brands can get an edge on rivals by exploiting the data gathered across the enterprise. The insights generated by this data boost direct sales and enrich customer relationships.
A cloud-based booking platform, integrated with third parties across the wider hospitality industry, enables analytics that feed into personalized marketing campaigns and loyalty programs. Moreover, brands can boost their sales outreach by way of cloud-enabled machine learning and big data analytics.
We have seen, for example, brands implementing data management platforms that afford a holistic view of each customer. In turn, these data pools drive personalized marketing campaigns across channels, delivering next generation loyalty programs across the hospitality ecosystem.
Efficiency to adapt, adjust and scale
Organizations are accommodating urgent demands for downsizing, flexibility and cost reduction. Many are also expected to snap back to full capacity should conditions become more favorable on the ground.
At present, however, all too many brands are held back by their reliance on the monolithic systems that make up their core applications, along with the outdated cultural mindsets that flourish alongside these systems.
If they are to weather the inevitable shifts that will take place between now and the next normal, and then scale rapidly when conditions allow, brands should consider making some radical upgrades. Imagine, for example, a hotel chain that can “peg” its marketing and sales strategy to the infection rate and evolving consumer sentiment in key destinations, and then scale activity up or down in near-real-time. Cloud-based platforms and software reduce IT costs and improve agility, speed to market, and flexibility to new demand.
Furthermore, cloud can help businesses achieve greater efficiency through hyper-automation platforms and tools, enabling the AI, intelligent automation and robotics that minimize manual activity in the back office.
A platform to innovate and stand out from the crowd
Once the business has embedded cloud in its marketing and back office, the business will be in a position to innovate the customer experience, differentiate and unlock new revenue. The ability to think differently is already critical to survival, as brands accommodate unfamiliar demands from business and leisure customers, and will only become more important as the new normal finds its feet.
Cloud native services can, for example, enable brands to innovate at scale and bring new products, services and experiences to market faster. In practice, this might mean connected hotels and workers, transformed loyalty programs, touchless traveler experiences, and a network of integrated ancillary services.
The opportunities are not far off. We can expect many leading hotels to already use AI, robotics, internet of things (IoT) and extended reality (XR) to minimize manual intervention and enable contactless interactions via new digital platforms and mobile apps.
Conclusion: Embracing the future
To unlock value at a time when many in the industry are desperate to hold on to their market share, cloud services should be applied across the value chain: from underlying infrastructure, to platform-supported operations, through to software-as-a-service, cloud-native, and analytics-powered tools.
Where to start? Each business needs to understand what its infrastructure, application and process landscape looks like, and where the cloud can optimize costs or support new services. Unfortunately, it takes more than just investing in cloud and watching the pieces fall into place. Brands may need to make organizational, process and cultural changes. Some will have to tear down entrenched silos—within their own organizations as well as those of partners—and nurture a more open, collaborative mindset among their staff.
As businesses rise to meet new opportunities, the future is starting—at last—to look bright once more.
About the authors
As the Global Travel Industry Sector Lead for Accenture, Emily Weiss is responsible for driving the growth of Accenture's Travel business across Hospitality, Aviation, and Travel Services through the delivery of transformational industry solutions.
Shantha Maheswari is Accenture’s Global Travel Industry Technology Lead. With more than 24 years of diverse Technology & Industry experience, Shantha has been responsible for leading growth, innovation and talent across multiple client relationships and client transformation programs.