INTERVIEW: How Technology and Data are Revolutionizing the Travel and Hospitality Industry
In a Q & A session, Björn Vöhl, Senior Director in Market Management, DACH & Nordics at Expedia Group, shared his views about his role at Expedia and how he’s pushing for new attitudes towards harnessing the cutting-edge technology affecting
Understanding customer behavior, optimizing revenue, driving higher occupancy, facilitating the booking experience, implementing new marketing strategies - these are just some of the areas that can be easily enhanced by the application of the Expedia's new technologies.
Q&A session: Björn Vohl, senior director, market management, DACH & Nordics at Expedia Group.
What do you see as critical areas where data can create opportunities for hospitality businesses at the moment?
Technology is at the heart of everything we do at Expedia Group. In 2018, we invested more than $1.6 billion in technology and content, resulting in new consumer features and developments for lodging partners. When used correctly, data plays a hugely important role in helping companies in the hospitality space understand customer behavior and adapt their strategy as needed to ensure they are capturing their customers in the right way, at each point on the booking journey.
Equally, from the supply side, it can also mean harnessing the power of data to optimize revenue. As the distribution landscape continues to evolve, the data used by revenue managers to make informed decisions is now more important than ever. We understand that analytics impact every efficiency we make to improve the booking process, and drive higher occupancy, ADR and RevPAR for our lodging partners.
Our revenue management tool Rev+ translates data into market insights and makes recommendations for hotel partners to take informed actions, which lead to measurable results. Rev+ also enables lodging partners to access a comprehensive database of local events and offers them the ability to check public prices at the point of sale in the local currency.
Companies likeExpediahave completely rearranged not only the hospitality industry over the past 2 decades but also travelers' customer journey: How can traditional hoteliers effectively leverageExpedia's technologies?
We have evolved beyond distribution to a full-service platform designed around building experiences that redefine the meaning of partnership in the travel space. We listen to all types of partners and our job is to empower all lodging partners on our marketplace. This means that we work in partnership with each one of our lodging partners to understand the strategic needs for their property and to help them solve problems so they can achieve their goals.
We have a variety of technological tools available on Expedia Group Partner Central, our free-to-use technology platform available to all lodging partners that work with us. Take for instance, an independent hotelier on a coastal town who's struggling with seasonal demand challenges. Our teams of market managers work with the hotelier to define the problem and suggest a strategy that could involve targeting more international travelers in off-peak seasons, or even targeting a certain group of travelers, such as mobile-only, with deals to boost demand, for example.
What, in your view, are the biggest obstacles and challenges hotel operators are likely to face over the next few years in terms of technology?
Instead of challenges, I prefer to look at the opportunities!
I think the impact of Voice will continue to grow significantly in the industry. By 2021, there will be 7.5 billion digital assistants in the world. 1 in 5 U.S. adults have already shopped using a voice assistant and of those, over half used their mobile device (something that more than 90% of the population has) and there are over 1 billion Google Assistant devices in the market.
The market has seen a rapid adoption of these new technologies within the past years and we've continued to iterate and develop voice assistant applications because we want to make sure that Expedia Group's customers are able to get the travel information they need, exactly when they need it, to make travel booking easier and easier. Voice and Chatbot adoption are huge opportunities and we will continue to focus on them as hospitality technology evolves.
What are the 2-3 major trends that are reshaping hospitality right now?
"I think personalized travel will continue to grow, helped with the increased importance and use of Machine Learning."
ML allows us to understand our customers better to cater to their travel needs - things like predicting trends in the market, whether the price is likely to go up or down in this market this summer period, etc. We also provide our customers with personalized recommendations if they have saved/favored specific hotels or itineraries in their profiles.
We may even see this trend continue to grow outside of lodging, to the wider travel industry. In the next decade, it is possible that travelers will purchase add-ons via mobile apps based on their preferences and pocketbooks, like VIP entry through special security lines, transportation from the curb to the gate, packaged meals provided before boarding, in-flight curated content, in-flight WiFi, and pre-arranged transportation from the airport. While many of these services are available today, they need to be purchased separately and, by bringing them together on one platform, it would be more valuable to both the traveler and the supplier.
About EHL Group
EHL Group encompasses a portfolio of specialized business units that deliver hospitality management education and innovation worldwide. Headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland, the Group includes:
EHL Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne is an ambassador for traditional Swiss hospitality and has been a pioneer in hospitality education since 1893 with over 25,000 alumni worldwide and over 120 nationalities. EHL is the world's first hospitality management school that provides undergraduate and graduate programs at its campuses in Lausanne, Singapore and Chur-Passugg, as well as online learning solutions. EHL is ranked n°1 by QS World University Rankings by subject and CEOWorld Magazine, and its gastronomic restaurant is the world's only educational establishment to hold a Michelin Star.
EHL Swiss School of Tourism and Hospitality has been one of the leading hospitality management colleges for hotel specialists for 50 years. The school delivers Swiss-accredited federal diplomas of vocational education and training and of higher education in its 19th century spa-hotel in Chur-Passugg, Graubünden, to Swiss and international students from 20 countries.
EHL Advisory Services is the largest Swiss hospitality advisory company specializing in service culture implementation, business consulting, as well as the development and quality assurance of learning centers. EHL Advisory Services has offices in Lausanne, Beijing, Shanghai and New Delhi and has delivered mandates in more than 60 countries over the past 40 years.
Phone: +41 21 785 1354