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Technology's Role in the Five-Step Guest Journey

HTNG recently hosted its fifth annual Insight Summit Europe (April 5-6th, Amsterdam, NL). These Summits provide an intimate venue for members to discuss current issues and acquire practical education on a variety of topics. “The Insight Summit events have been created to allow technology experts and hospitality drivers to come together to discuss technology trends, target issues and define solutions,” says Patrick Dunphy, workgroups and IT manager, HTNG. This year’s European program focused on the role of technology during the five-step journey of the hotel guest.

The process starts when a potential guest forms an idea (step one); from there, they research potential destinations (step two), and eventually book (step three). Step four is the on-property experience, and step five happens post-stay, as guests relive their travel experience. Digital strategies and advances in technology will ultimately engage the guest, drive satisfaction, and streamline staff operations, allowing hotels to better engage at all five stages. The emphasis for these strategies must be on how leveraging technology can promote an overall increase in guest loyalty and revenue.

Maarten Plesman, VP, EMEA, Revinate, introduced hoteliers to the steps they can take that map directly back to the five-step guest journey. For guests, he said, the experience starts with “the dream,” and is then followed by research, booking, the stay experience, and post-trip reliving the experience. To mirror this process, a hotelier must strive to create demand, position their brand during the research stage, convert during booking, operate during the on-property stay, and re-engage post stay. This last step is cricital – hotels must be proactive in creating a desire for a repeat visit.

In depth sessions were presented by digital strategy experts focused on different aspects of how to enhance the guest experience while utilizing data for pre- and post-stay engagement. A sampling of the speakers and topics included:
  • Bryan Steele, head of IT for the Royal Automobile Club, who dove into prerequisites that help stabilize the strategy for a multi-property environment. He established best practices around guest interaction and staff operations, while employing a CRM-centric strategy.
  • Elliott Pritchard, CMO for Triptease, who focused on guests’ booking experience and offered strategies to drive guests to book direct. This included tips and tricks to increase click-through and incentivize guests to book on your brand’s website.
  • Robert Magliozzi, executive vice president, Cendyn, who addressed methods and systems that utilize guest data and analytics with the goal of driving engagement and revenue by connecting with the guest on the way to the hotel.

In an interactive exercise, participants analyzed technology’s role during this five-step guest journey. The group discussion was facilitated by HTNG member leadership Bryan Steele, Stephen Barratt, and Marcos Pomar. Participants focused on technology issues and roadblocks hoteliers encounter while managing the guest journey. “Digital Strategies, CRM solutions and related architectural challenges proved to be the biggest points of discussion and may well drive future work groups,” said Barrett, director of technology projects, Mandrin Oriental Hotel Group.

Turning to strategies to prepare for disruptive technology in hospitality, Frank Jewett, VP of strategic partnerships, UIEvolution, Inc., offered a session on evaluating devices from an enterprise needs standpoint, system communications, project planning, and guest experience management. In the final session of the summit, Juan Manuel Aguirre, product manager, Hoist Group, presented an update on guest room television strategies and uses beyond video-on-demand and basic channel programing.

“This year’s event addressed how hoteliers can attend to business needs by leveraging technology to drive automation, data collection, intelligent analytics, operational improvements, and agility for the hospitality industry,” summed up Dunphy of the content.
Based on input during the moderated discussion, Barret said that the implications of digital and technology on the guest were well received from a hotelier’s perspective. “Thirty-six hours in Amsterdam were well spent,” said Barret.

The Insight Summit North America will be held August 23-25, 2016, in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, near historic Signal Hill (the site of the first transatlantic wireless transmission by G. Marconi). Planned workgroup meetings include: Infrastructure Resource Team, Door Lock Security Workgroup, Fiber to the Room, Personally Identifiable Information, Payments, and the Internet of Things. Educational sessions, networking (and whale watching!) will be on the agenda. For more information or to register, visit    

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