Technology @ Hotels: Time For Big Change

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Use of technology at hotels has evolved over the last 3 decades from being a simple billing system to now facilitating the entire booking to checkout cycle. 

Despite seeping into all functional areas, technology has never been at the forefront of hotel business until today. Hotel business is certainly a one which requires a high level of personal human touch but moving on with times, guests today look for a more lifestyle oriented experience rather than a conventional hotel experience.

In this day and age where new startups are disrupting businesses, hospitality has not been immune. It is being impacted majorly by newbies like Airbnb who have shaken up the very basics of the hospitality game. Such major changes will certainly force the conventional hotel companies to not only think differently but to change quickly and the only vehicle which can provide such a quick transition is appropriate technology.

Today we typically divide technology at hotels in 2 buckets viz guest facing and associate facing. More often than not the tech focus is too much on the guest room technology which does not provide the desired ROI and consumes a lot of valuable resources. On the associate technology front little has changed over the last few years and new technologies are not being incorporated at the same pace as other sectors.

Hotels should now look at these 2 buckets very differently. On guest room side of things the target should be to provide as close as possible tech experience which the guests are already used to at their homes. Today even matching that is a very big challenge for the hotels due to the complexities of implementing common tech at home such as wireless media streaming, choice of full HD content, extremely high internet bandwidth, in a large scale and that too in a secure manner. The trick is to provide as close as possible experience and not go over the top.

The real focus should be to revamp the other bucket. Use of cloud services to take away the burden of routine IT services at the hotel which can easily be handled above property and focus on how to effectively and intelligently use the data collected. The number of data collection points at a hotel are enormous today and each touch point provides meaningful data about the customer which can be utilised effectively to provide a better experience each time. Of course, hotels need to be mindful about privacy of guest data and deploy all possible means to secure the same.

The personalised experience. Even today, the extent of providing a personalised experience to the guest depends on the quality of the guest history data available to the hotel based on the guest’s previous stays. To take personalised experience to the next level, hotels will have to step up the game and use advanced technologies such as big data for consumer pattern based intelligent analytics.

Having a revenue management system is no longer enough to optimise the revenue. In hospitality business it is essential to provide an exceptional personalised experience which automatically transforms into higher revenues as individuals / companies will certainly pay a premium for a superior experience.

The other area where hotels can and should use technology effectively is sustainability as hotels are one of the bigger consumers of natural resources.

About the Author:

Amandeep Singh Sarna – Amandeep is the Regional Director IT for Starwood Hotels & Resorts worldwide, and part of the company’s Executive leadership. Responsible for the strategic business technology vision of the company, he spearheads IT decisions, more specifically Digital Transformation efforts to help the company improve client service levels, maximise capital expense ROI and control costs.

Amandeep is a member of Greyhound Golden Gate (G-Qube) Digital Transformation Council. He is also on the Advisory Board of Greyhound Knowledge Group. To know more about Amandeep, click here.

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