Author:
Tristan Gadsby
Published:

August 4, 2020

Looking ahead - Reshaping the future of hospitality

As featured in HOSPA Overview Magazine, Tristan Gadsby, CEO of Alliants discusses how hoteliers can respond to the current crisis leveraging technology.

Clearly this is the most challenging situation the industry has faced for decades. What can hoteliers do to respond?

Sadly, there is no simple answer to this. What we can do is try and learn as many lessons from the past as possible and make clear decisions. The Harvard Business Review published an article in 2010  (Roaring Out of Recession) which assessed the performance of 4,700 companies following the past 3 economic recessions and concluded that those deploying an optimised combination of defensive (mainly cost cutting) and offensive moves (spending on marketing, R&D and new assets) have the highest probability of breaking away from the pack post recession.

In practical terms this means that hoteliers not only need to cut costs to make it through the periods of closure or single digit occupancy, but also focus on building agility into the business model and making targeted investments that will fuel the recovery and drive growth. There are three areas where we think hoteliers can leverage technology and lay foundations to position themselves for the future:

  • Leverage data to make faster decisions and develop recovery strategies;
  • Create or re-ignite customised and contextual one-to-one relationships; and 
  • Digitise the guest experience and business processes.

In what way can hoteliers leverage data to assist at the current time?

There is significant business value hidden in the data that hoteliers collect on a continual basis. We help a number of hotels and chains connect data from many different sources to allow for better decision making. This includes breaking down the demand signals by market using web traffic and sources of competitor information to sentiment and intent analysis on request data. That data is not only valuable during business as usual, it is also invaluable at times like this to help to:

  • Understand demand and determine the appropriate re-opening or marketing investment points
  • Identify high value customers that are key targets for re-activation
  • Optimise marketing to maximise the return from precious investments

To uncover this value, hoteliers can make relatively small investments, leveraging cloud solutions to enhance their business intelligence capabilities and better answer these key questions.

How can hoteliers leverage technology to develop one-to-one relationships?

Developing relationships is the heart of hospitality and technology will never replace the fundamentals. It can however facilitate and reduce the amount of effort to develop meaningful relationships with your guests. McKinsey recently published their guide to Connecting with customers in times of crisis that lays out seven actions that companies can take. In many ways, these points will be the ‘new normal.’ Technology can assist with a  number of these:

  • Bring joy and support the emotional needs of customers ‘trapped at home’ by leveraging and distributing inspirational content, sharing fitness programmes or sharing memorable moments
  • Actively shift customers to online channels by making the hotel services available for delivery or click and collect (for example, Special Occasion Treats and Gifts to Bedding Products)  
  • Staying reachable to your customers and communicating with care in personal interactions by being proactive and available to customers on their channel of choice

Source: McKinsey & Company, 2020

Hoteliers can achieve this by setting up online stores and adopting omni-channel communication platforms.

How can hoteliers digitise the guest experience and their processes to thrive post-crisis?

There are many elements of the customer journey that can be digitised whilst either maintaining or improving the guest experience. These include:

  • Digitisation of the itinerary, enabling guests to collaborate and share virtually
  • Digital arrival including expected arrival times, check in and digital room keys shareable across the party
  • Intelligent room servicing and scheduling
  • Room Service delivery and collection scheduling
  • Online Guest Communications and Service Requests
  • Digital departure including check-out, payments and feedback

Some of these exist today, but to truly transform to a digital guest experience these solutions should be:

To support this, hoteliers should be looking at how they integrate their systems to optimise processes and leverage technology to automate ordinary and repetitive tasks using bots and artificial intelligence. Using technology this way allows valuable staff to focus on complex tasks and deliver extraordinary experiences.

Clearly these are difficult times. Take stock and look ahead to review how technology could help to reduce operational costs, become data driven, help efficiency, especially with limited resources. By automating non-value added activities more time can be spent engaging with guests from pre-arrival to post-stay and fostering connections through the use of technology.

Connect with Tristan: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tristangadsby/

About HOSPA:

HOSPA helps hospitality's Finance, Revenue Management, IT, Marketing and Asset Management professionals develop their careers, network and keep up-to-date with industry trends and developments.

To view the article in The Overview magazine, visit https://issuu.com/hospa/docs/the_overview_may_280420_v5_web_ready/s/10480249

To find out more about HOSPA, please visit https://www.hospa.org