Where does the digital road lead for the hotel industry?
How is it possible that a mere internet-based travelling portal business achieves a market capitalisation of 94.6 bn dollars, and by that, more than the three biggest hotel enterprises in the world combined (as of Oct. 16, 2017)? I am referring to The Priceline Group and the three hotel companies Marriott International, Hilton Worldwide and InterContinental Hotels Group.
How is it possible that a website founded in 2008, providing booking and procuring of private accommodation is estimated to be worth more than 30 bn. dollars? Airbnb presently provides lodging in over 65000 cities in over 190 countries. Stock market prices are monetary fiction. Are these the signs, where the road for the hotel industry is heading?
Many reasons exist – some of them rightly, some wrongly – to talk about unfair competition. But there is one thing that companies like The Priceline Group and Airbnb have in common: As purely digital businesses without legacy, they met the zeitgeist and found a fast scalable business model. Inidividualisation and personalisation are the driving forces.
Are Hotels without digital strategy the warehouses of the past?
This sluggish innovation of the hotel industry is what made this development possible in the first place. The power with which Digital Natives are pouring into the market was not taken seriously for years. Brand loyalty is only left marginally. If tomorrow one of the new, fashionable boutique hotels meets the trend best, the modern guest is there.
Hotels without digital strategy are the warehouses of the past. The demography reduces the patronage and the outdated training concepts with all their side effects reduce staff. Without new working processes embedded in a digital plan, only the shinning premium establishments and niche markets stand a chance of survival in a growing competition.
There is no other industry possessing a more detailed treasure of data than hotel business. In your systems the eating habits of your residents. You ought to know how many pillows a guest needs or whether he is allergy sufferer. You ought to know, whether your guest had a comfortable journey or was stuck in a traffic jam. You ought to know from social media, what the guest is interested in. You should not ask, but act. Raise this wealth of data!
The fight for overnight guests has just begun.
Start to link your visitor technologies. Get advice on how you can aggregate data for the benefit of your business. Reorganize procedures, so your guest can use standard services himself by fingerprint. By this, your staff gains the time to present themselves as attentive hosts and to create exactly the additional value, to make him a denizen. The battle for the overnight guest has just begun. Nothing is lost, yet.
The travel industry is booming. According to estimates by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the number of international tourist arrivals will rise to
1.8 billion. Of the 1.138 billion tourist arrivals of 2014 (4.7% increase to prior year), 588 million people travelled solely to Europe. Like in previous year, this equals a quota of 52 percent.
I am sure, you already invested much in digitalisation. You probably run a website with online booking capabilities (responsive, naturally). You may be connected to various booking engines and have created one or another social media profile. Maybe you also possess a digital feedback solution. Wi-Fi should maybe be examined once more after 5 years?
Use digital technology to inidividualise and personalise!
The new VINN blog series #VINNdigitizes highlights the various aspects of the digital Customer Journey, between arrival and departure with every single contact point – and these are quite numerous. I want to give you an insight which possibilities are already present today to digitally retrofit an existing hotel. If you count yourself lucky and raise a new hotel, I also welcome you as a reader. Take your plans for hospitality technology from the last two years and scrap them. Keep in mind, that all technologies should be interlinked.
Act like The Priceline Group or Airbnb. Use digital technology, to individualise and personalise. appoint your mindful hosts so that your hotel feels special again.
Yours truly, Frank Gerhardt (CEO, VINN GmbH)
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