As an independent hotelier, you don't want to buy 10 different hotel technology solutions. You need to spend your money wisely, and invest only in those technologies that will add value to your business and, importantly, grow your profits. But how can you know which hotel technology will accomplish this?
It's a valid question. So last week we sought out the answer at HITEC Amsterdam, an event where financial and technology professionals in the hospitality industry gather to discuss how hotels can use technology for greater profitability and efficiency. It was the first European HITEC (Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference), organised by the global nonprofit hospitality association HFTP.
Here are three tips we collected during the event; keep them in mind when investing in new hotel technology.
Tip #1: Invest in a data strategy
Setting up a data strategy requires time and effort—but it's worth it. According to Samir Sharma of the London-based company Datazuum, the first question you should ask is: How can you monetise your data? What will you get out if it? Whether it's upselling food and beverages to your VIP guests or optimising your rates, have a clear goal. It will tell you what hotel technology you should be using.
Daily Point CEO Michael Toedt pointed out seven important data sources from which you can gain insights into what your guests want. These are:
1) Property management system
3) Restaurant reservations
And don't forget that, as leading global hotel metasearch, trivago has a wealth of significant data on guest preferences and traveller behavior that you can tap into.
Toedt's advice for hoteliers: "If you're not linking at least four of these sources to your customer database, you don't know who your customer is."
But beware—there's always a risk of gathering too much data, warned both Sharma and Toedt. So invest time in setting up your data strategy correctly. Find out who owns the data in your company, how to connect the data from other staff members, and—last but not least—make sure your staff is digitalising the data.
Think it's too early to start implementing a data strategy into your hotel business? Think again. Because even if you're not, your competitor is.
Want to learn more about how you can leverage big data for your hotel? Check out the webinar we recently hosted with Tnooz.
Tip #2: Hire millennials from hospitality schools
As the next generation of travellers, millennials are in the best position to help you bring your hotel into the future with the right hotel technology.
During a panel discussion, Senior Lecturer Ian Miller from the École Hôtelière de Lausanne queried four students of hospitality schools about what they like to have in their hotel rooms and how they book.
Claudia Dradi, a Hospitality and Business Management student at Hotelschool The Hague, said: "We don't need a TV. I rarely watch the shows. What I need is an outlet so I can charge my devices."
When asked about millennial booking behavior, Dradi replied: "We compare prices, we want everything for less." So are they loyal to hotel brands? Not particularly—but they are loyal to the booking sites and metasearches that compare these prices for them.
And having found their ideal hotel for the best price, millennials will look for a personalised guest experience. They don't want to have to ask about dining recommendations, they want the hotel to offer them suggestions. And with millennials' personal preferences available for the taking on their social media profiles, there's no reason why hotels can't accommodate this expectation.
Does this all come across as pretty demanding? Perhaps it is, but millennials are used to a world in which everything is one click away. The good news is that today's hospitality students are ready to take on the challenge of digitalising the industry. Get them involved and let them test hotel technology for you. Because if millennials are not already your guests, they will be in the near future—so who better to give you feedback on whether something adds value to your hotel business or not?
Tip #3: Interconnect hotel technology
How can you connect all your existing software to one cloud-based system, so they communicate with one another? If this is your main IT struggle, then an Enterprise Service Bus solution might be worth looking into. It connects your applications, devices, and services, and makes it possible to collect data from your guests' social media profiles and—depending on your current software—push personalised offers to them through the hotel's Wi-Fi-connection. So if they're in the bar, for example, they receive vouchers for their favorite drink. Another perk is that when all devices are connected to the cloud, it notifies staff immediately when there's a technical error in a certain room or with a payment system.
Jan Jaap van Roon, CEO of IreckonU, described how their hotel tech helps deliver an enhanced guest experience. "We can even integrate into your hotel property technology that improves the experience of your guests. By using sensors in the carpets, we know when guests are approaching their hotel room and can open the door for them, before they've even reached for the key in their pocket."
Base7Booking also connects several hotel technologies for you by offering a property management system, channel manager, and optimised booking engine all in one cloud-based solution.
Where you at HITEC Amsterdam or do you have any other tips for hoteliers that would help them invest in hotel technology to grow their business? Share your thoughts below.
This article was originally posted on HFTP connect