I’m new to the hospitality space, having joined Chexology last November. I’ve met with many seasoned professionals in various hospitality verticals since then, and nearly every single one of them has told me “the hospitality industry is notorious for not innovating.”
Here’s the funny thing: The hospitality industry has probably innovated more in the last 12 months than in the previous decade. The creativity brought to bear to support customers and adjust to the needs the pandemic has created is nothing short of remarkable. In fact, Hilton agrees. The hotel chain reports it has delivered “a decade of innovation in just one year!“
Kudos to all of you doing the work to deliver great guest experiences. However, one area where the industry continues to lag is in technology adoption. From clunky, outdated back-of-house systems to manual, archaic processes, I’ve heard ranges of one year to 10 years that the industry lags behind in adoption of new hospitality technology. Whether it’s fear, budget or something else that’s holding you back, this resistance to change eventually will catch up with the industry. Let’s not hold back. Now is the time to pivot and embrace technology.
Here are three ways tech innovation will help the hospitality industry:
1. Guest Experience Expectations
We live in an experience economy. Overall, experience is still the No. 1 reason customers make purchase decisions. If you’re not creating unique experiences that differentiate your brand from its competition, it will be challenging to thrive in the post-pandemic marketplace. Your guests expect technology, and the pandemic has escalated this expectation as people have become accustomed to a tech enabled, stay-closer-to-home lifestyle. Therefore, you’ll need to be thinking about every touchpoint in order to attract customers who expect more: more from their hotel than just a place to sleep, more from their nightclub than just a place to gather, more from their museum than just a place to experience culture.
Where to start? Map out your customer’s journey. What are all the touchpoints they have with you from booking, attending, leaving? Focus on the areas where it’s complicated. Where can you add tech to simplify their process and improve their experience? Simply looking at the ways Airbnb and VRBO have brought new competition through easy-to-access properties and experiences should tell us all something. Customers want it to be easy. Guests expect a simple process with you. Period.
2. Business Intelligence
Unlike manual, paper-based processes, using tech solutions provides access to data you’ve never had before. And using this data allows you to make better decisions, providing insights into guest and staff activity. Over time, this data can provide intelligence that aid in business decisions that will save you money. It’s said that tech costs more, and sometimes that’s true. In many cases, the up-front investment might be more. However, it’s important to understand all of the components of a true tech ROI calculation. Some of these are not measurable right away, but should still be considered: human capital costs/savings, revenue impact from guest satisfaction, repeat customers, etc.
Analyzing the data you get through new technologies can prove more valuable than you realize in the long run.
One of the benefits of innovating manual processes through technology is the reduction in waste such as paper. Technology can serve to protect the environment, and many businesses have drawn a line in the sand, deciding to implement a number of eco-friendly, sustainable technologies. As more enviro-conscious consumers make buying decisions based on eco-friendly brands, your decision to innovate through technology in these areas will set your company apart and prove profitable.
Certainly there’s a lot more to talk about when it comes to hospitality technology. I encourage you to remain focused on what you can do now, as you start to re-open and welcome back guests as competition is tighter than ever. Even pre-pandemic, these areas were important. But now, more than ever, they’re crucial to your success.