Industry Update
Opinion Article 2 February 2018

3 Hotelier Spaces to Dominate, Keeping You Ahead of the Curve and Delighting Your Guests

By Alonso Franco, CEO and Co-founder of Arrivedo

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The intersection of hospitality and technology is evolving quickly. It is hard for a hotel to prioritize how to cope with these changes and how to utilize modern tech to better human customer service. If the hotel's offering is not competitive and is unable to evolve with customers' expectations, success is unlikely. For the luddites that refuse to jump on board and engage with the new fusion of hospitality and technology, they are likely to fall behind.

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The hotel industry is worth $199.3 billion in the United States alone and has been around for thousands of years. However, today existence alone doesn't cut it. Hoteliers must always be advancing, setting a higher standard than the competition, and those who stay ahead will pave the way for the future of hospitality.

So here's a look at three areas of the hotel industry which will be heavily influenced by technology in the coming years, and how your hotel can adapt to stay ahead of the curve.

Ready for a modern reception with local hosts

Our first impression of a hotel is usually determined by the reception and its employees. With the introduction of AI, the reception will soon be optimized, making guests' experiences more efficient and personalized to their individual preferences.

By allowing technology to perform the simple tasks, such as automatically entering a guest's information into the system, the duties of the employee at the front desk will shift to a more involved role. Despite AI's miraculous abilities, a personal touch from a hotel's employees is still critical, presumably in the form of a local aid who will guide guests to the best local events and activities.

Newfoundland's Fogo Island Inn in Canada is a shining example of the local experiences a hotel can offer. According to a report by Skift titled The Future of Hospitality Entrepreneurship, at the hotel, "Guests are offered the option of meeting and spending time with like-minded island residents. This can include learning about local fishing techniques or helping with boat building." By offering experiences such as this, the hotel becomes more than just a place for accomodation; it strengthens its overall offering and becomes a source of information and enjoyment for guest.

But this is just the beginning. As guests come to expect more of a local experience with their stay, employees at reception will take on a more active role as guides. Hotels that fail to make this transition will stagnate in their old habits, failing to accommodate changing expectations, and quickly fall behind as the leaders in this field.

On board with operation management systems

The advancements of reception will be very influential for a guest's experience. However, this is just one component of something much bigger, destined for major improvements: the operation management system.

Traditionally, each section of a hotel's service, from accommodation and event catering to specialized facilities such as golf or health spas, has operated using individual software systems. While offering specific functionality, this approach has led to isolated clusters of information.

In the future, this will no longer be an issue. Modern technology will be able to complete tasks in their entirety, end to end, tapping into a digitally omniscient network of the hotel. By unifying these systems, hotels can manage more information, faster and with great clarity over profitability. The advancement will not only be for the overall hotel or department, but also in granular detail for each guest.

A prime example of this was raised in an article by Hotel Industry Magazine, which claimed that "integrating the hotel management system with the restaurant point of sale application means that the hotel has a comprehensive view of revenue per guest or event. The hotel can also pull together truly holistic reports for management information and customer communication."

Ideally, the system will go one step further, digesting large amounts of information to produce reports on larger issues that usually go unnoticed. An example of this is via past guests' feedback. Reviews from top booking websites will be analyzed so an immediate report can be produced with actionable insights for the maintenance team.

For instance, if guests frequently complain about noise due to location being close to busy traffic lights, the hotel's maintenance department can objectively see this from a report produced by the system, and install thicker windows to combat this issue. Systems like this will automatically schedule meetings with the appropriate department to tackle issues picked up by the system itself.

This type of system will be pivotal for the success of any hotel, not only to rise above competition, but also to increase margins and combat issues as soon as they arise. By employing this technology, a hotel will be aware of the issues and opportunities which other hotels won't notice,allowing for greater improvements for guests.

Down for digital innovation

With this influx of technology, hotels will become a hub of digital activity, no longer being recognized solely as a form of accommodation, but also as an opportunity to connect. The intricacy of knowledge surrounding guests' preferences will allow for tailor-made activities in the local area to be digitally presented before or during their stays. In turn, it will give them a greater sense of personalization, and potentially open up a new stream of advertising revenue for the hotel.

We are also witnessing a rise in connectivity between independent and unique hotels becoming more connected to online opportunities. Loyalty programs are now a reality for independent hotels. For example, The Wanup program provides guests with insightful information on independent hotels while allowing them to collect points. This symbolizes a technological shift of smaller hotels that simply did not exist five or ten years ago.

Hotels will integrate with emerging hospitality platforms to survive and thrive. Why? For independent hotels, it is impossible to develop a global marketing campaign to reach travelers, signifying a better, more cost effective form of marketing. Intermediate platforms, platforms like Wanup are starting to connect individual hotels to the world. Beyond loyalty, independent hotels across the globe will integrate into hospitality platforms, helping hotels amplify their overall digital experience. Thus, increasing customer service via recommendations and maps from hotel to guests or monetizing advertising, selling services, tours and activities, to name a few.

Hotels will host an array of digital offerings to increase sales and customer service to guests. Hotels that connect to these emerging digital platforms will win over those who develop their own technology without a deeper understanding of technological requirements. A hotel's efforts to push their own technology platforms is likely to isolate their business, ignoring the larger movement occurring outside their own ecosystem. Their best option would be to plug into emerging digital platforms, saving time and money, allowing the hotels to reinvest in true hospitality ROI.

Over the coming years, the victorious hotels will hold their heads high, basking in the success of their future proofed ideas. Forward thinking hotels will adopt new technology to change the way we interact with reception, setting a higher standard for modern travelers and better customer service. Also, top hotels will automatize operations to execute with excellence day to day management. And finally, the cream of the crop will create the right balance of in-house development and external integrations. Those who excel in these three spaces will dominate human and digital customer services, securing health margins and high profitability. These hotels will be the winners.

Alonso Franco

Alonso Franco is the CEO and Co-founder of Arrivedo, the first online platform for hotel recommendations that gives a voice to hoteliers. In 2009 he co-founded award-winning Pariwana Hostels with locations in Lima and Cusco. In Pariwana Hostels he led a team to develop a proprietary software for the management and operations of his hotels.

    More from Alonso Franco

    About Arrivedo

    Arrivedo, the first online platform with curated content of things to do around hotels, enables high profile hotels, such as Kimpton Hotels, Virgin Hotel in Chicago, WestHouse in New York (just three out of the 850 hotels working with Arrivedo), to organize their own Neighborhood Guide. Hotels can now compete with Airbnb to drive more traveler satisfaction and to attract travelers searching for accommodations with a local experience. Arrivedo is giving a voice to hotels as local hosts for a delightful welcome to guests.

    Hotels interested in using Arrivedo or want more information, they can contact [email protected] or go to Arrivedo.com to schedule a call with the Arrivedo Team.

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