The essence of hospitality, be it travel agencies, hotels, or restaurants, is experience. The digital experience that companies deliver to consumers, including cross-device engagements, is the crucial element of business. In consequence, paramount to the hospitality industry is technology like back-end web architecture that better supports front-end experience on the web, mobile, kiosks, and IoT devices for travelers and visitors. To ensure smooth content delivery, that technology must also offer agile workspaces that bridge IT and marketing workflows.
Separately, hospitality brands must furnish dependable digital experiences, including quality and accurate content for trip reservations, 360-degree spin sets of hotel rooms, and personalized recommendations based on consumers’ previous site visits. Additionally, a strong IT backbone is a prerequisite for venturing into generative AI or metaverse experiences.
So, what technologies can best position travel and hospitality brands for success?
Composable frameworks are tech stacks that comprise decoupled technologies like content management systems (CMSes). In contrast, legacy architectures stitch together all the tools and experiences through a single vendor. Therefore, the debate in today’s digital-transformation age among IT and marketing teams collaborating to build compelling digital experiences is one of old versus new, i.e., whether to migrate to a composable framework or continue with a legacy system.
The fact is, both composable and legacy frameworks have pros and cons. Nonetheless, the best way to accomplish the end goal of presenting consistent and quality web experiences is through a composable architecture and a workspace within which all stakeholders can work together instead of in silos. A composable platform offers a synced-up visual workspace where, for example, a marketer can update a hotel room’s price and have that information automaticallyupdated across devices. Hence no need for a developer to manually update content for each device and a more connected way of collaboration.
A Forbes survey of 1,000 American travelers found that nearly half of them plan to travel more this year than in 2022, during which 42% of Americans traveled three or more times. To satisfy this thirst, brands must step up their digital experiences to reel in customers and deliver consistent content beyond the web and mobile: in kiosks, tablets, and on site at hotels and resorts.
Recall how much the COVID-19 pandemic set back the hospitality sector, which went from no travelers during lockdown to weary and concerned globetrotters to almost everyone traveling nowadays. During that time, brands should have been accelerating their digital-transformation strategies to get ready for the return of travel. As travel surged out of the pandemic, online travel agencies (OTAs), hotel booking sites, etc., were bombarded with consumers flooding websites to research and make reservations. Some companies were ready, but many were not.
As experiences become more immersive and travel heats up, consumers will be much less forgiving about digital interactions than they were during the pandemic. Consequently, brands need proper back-end support to meet consumer expectations by, for example, personalizing digital experiences through the wealth of first-party data that’s now available. The right infrastructure must be in place first, however.
The most effective way to fulfill consumer expectations is to build a composable web architecture that can harness and grow alongside modern experiences. By integrating best-in-need headless tools through APIs, coupled with a composable strategy, brands can make optimum use of composable platforms and gain significant benefits:
- Faster page loads. With front-end tools that are decoupled from the back-end architecture (i.e. headless tools), hospitality brands can create fast-loading webpages. Failing to do that, companies risk bounce rates of up to 32% for just two seconds of additional load time, leading to lower rankings on Google and other search engines.
- Personalization. Oftentimes, travelers research a trip on a site, leave the site, and return later. Hospitality businesses that personalize the return visit based on previous searches and clicks boost visitor satisfaction, attracting and retaining customers.
- Future-proof tech. Legacy solutions lock brands into one vendor. Conversely, truly composable platforms enable the addition of headless tools and features from multiple vendors, and brands become nimble and innovative in being able to quickly add technologies and data sources without replatforming. Southwest Airlines is an example of a company that fell victim to tech debt, running on old IT systems that resulted in major financial losses.
Unlike other industries, travel and hospitality brands can’t get away with unappealing, antiquated digital experiences. Immersive videos, accessibility to user-generated content and reviews, as well as availability of pricing and booking information in real time are a lot to manage, however.
In addition, IT teams need flexibility and a platform that can sustain constant changes in the market. Travel and hospitality brands would be well advised to adopt composable platforms to not only better equip teams, but also serve and retain customers long term.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Darren Guarnaccia is president of Uniform, a digital experience composition platform (DXCP) on which developers and marketers can control their digital-experience stack. As a leader with deep expertise in blending best-in-class product-marketing and product-management strategies to overcome business challenges, differentiate products, and drive exponential growth, Darren oversees marketing, product strategy, and enablement at Uniform.