How Hotels Must Leverage Tech to Augment Human Touch
Integration continues to be a top struggle for innovation. What stumbling blocks remain and what should hotels ask of partners?
DOUG HOGAN: Much of what we see today in terms of market volatility and uncertainty is driving the need for hoteliers to explore new areas to gain a competitive advantage. Technology is right at the heart of that. Hoteliers need to be able to react quickly to new technology – they need to have the ability to try new innovative products and evaluate the results, without having to make heavy investments of time or money. To accomplish this, it is critical to find technology partners that have APIs and proven approaches to getting new integrations done fast and well.
As the pace of change accelerates, what must hotels do to remain flexible to new technology? What must they require of technology partners?
HOGAN: Hoteliers need to be nimble and willing to take some risks on new technology. However, they can limit exposure to risk by measuring results and, if new technology doesn’t bring the value they expect, choose to fail fast and move on. We often see that one of the worst decisions hoteliers can make is choosing technology that locks them into one type of service or solution. Hoteliers need to work with partners that are actually partners. A true partner is collaborative – with the hotel operator along with any other technology vendors that work with them. If a technology “partner” is not willing to work with you and your vendors to help solve your problems, then it is time to go elsewhere.
What kind of instant communication/customer service do guests expect from hotels, and how can the property management system (PMS) fill that need?
HOGAN: Recently we sat down with some of our key customers to discuss this question. What we found is that today’s guests expect technology to improve communication and service without removing the “human touch.” Guests expect text messaging platforms and smartphone apps to make it easier and faster to connect with a real human being. The PMS is the central connection point between your guest and your staff. It allows hotels to not only deliver a great experience, but also to analyze data, create more detailed guest profiles, and market to guests during and after their stays.
When marketing to a guest, what data does the PMS offer to improve the personalization aspect and how can this lend itself to an uptick in revenue/bookings?
HOGAN: Our customers tell us that the PMS is the best repository of personalization data to help increase revenue per guest stay. The PMS captures all kinds of data points such as room preferences, amenities, seasonality, and where and on what a guest spends money. The data can be used to offer personalized loyalty rates and special amenity packages. These customized packages appeal to guests’ particular tastes and drive increased bookings and revenue.