The great hotel operations disruptor

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It’s time our industry embraces big data and gets in front of the technology innovation curve.

By Joshua Molina

Both how we work and play is very different now than just a few short years ago, as nearly all aspects of our lives are morphing from a technological injection. For our sector, it’s especially challenging as the hotel industry has traditionally been behind the innovation curve.

Now we no longer have a choice but to embrace technology fully and fast. Because if we do not, an industry disruptor will. We already see technology radically altering how guests experience hotels and how hoteliers run them.

In a hotel, nearly all aspects of the property are seeing some level of change because of technology. And tying it all together is the emergence of new and more powerful property management systems (PMS). Except, rather than the technology being stored on a server hidden in a back room somewhere, the PMS has been unleashed by the internet.

The Cloud Makes You See More
You may already be aware of the cloud. It’s a term becoming more common, and it’s all about taking computer power off premise and into gigantic server farms across the planet. Cloud technology liberates the hotelier by allowing for more operational flexibility. Now a hotel general manager or owner can see what’s happening at their hotel no matter where they are in the world, so long as they’re connected to the internet. And products connected to the cloud, such as the PMS, continually run the latest software as new features and updates are added remotely.

An interesting side effect of the cloud is that PMS is now, more than ever, the brains of the hotel. No longer solely about keeping track of coming-and-going guests, it’s the central hub from which myriad and disparate systems connect and communicate. Internal and external systems are all being filtered through this more flexible than ever property solution. Some systems include energy management, CRS, online distribution, housekeeping, frequent guest profiles, spa, group functionality, PBX, PCI compliance, guestroom call accounting, sales and catering, in-room entertainment, point of sale, accounting, electronic locks and keyless entry, voicemail and more.

It’s a fascinating shift, and one that needn’t be overwhelming; though at times we understand how such massive change can be unsettling for some. A great cloud-based PMS is designed to be intuitive, making it easy to learn so hoteliers can quickly gain the added financial benefits.

To stay current, as well as future-proof, it’s essential to have the right cloud-based PMS; one that can handle the needs of today’s evolving hotel business.

The Changing Guest
Technology is also changing how existing and potential hotel guests interact with the travel experience, and it’s all because of mobile computing power. Hoteliers must adapt here, too, to get lookers to become bookers.

Guests are no longer tied to stationary computers when thinking about booking travel; they’ve gone mobile, just like you. So when researching travel, your potential customers are investigating their next business trip or personal adventure in bits and pieces, rather than in long sessions. A report from Google says the average person checks their phone 150 times per day, using them for about 177 minutes. That means each interaction is hardly more than a minute long and alters how customers connect with the properties in which they will eventually stay.

As their trip is approaching, they’re more likely to take more frequent peeks at possibilities and then when everything is right, spontaneously book a room. This makes it harder for hoteliers not leveraging the right technology to make a meaningful customer connection resulting in a booking.

Leveraging Big Data
By now, most of us have heard the term Big Data, but many still do not really understand it’s meaning. Essentially Big Data is a collection of everything we do online, coupled with all the information and data created by every computer connected to the internet. According to IBM, we’re collectively creating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. An incredible 90 percent of data ever created has been in the past two years. Wow!

Fortunately, this data windfall gives hoteliers access to insight that helps capture the potential customer’s attention, and potentially a bigger slice of their wallet share. The right cloud-based PMS captures relevant customer data, transforming the information into actionable insight.

When data is utilized correctly, it’s possible to know much more information about a guest’s habits, likes and dislikes, even before they step foot in the hotel. Data also allows for hoteliers to craft more personalized experiences, which is in concert with customer trends looking for more bespoke moments while away from home.

Tying it all Together
The latest cloud-based PMS platforms offer smarter marketing opportunities based on more actionable insight; when a customer arrives, the stage is set for a better guest experience. If you know a guest likes a particular room location, loves a specific sports team or craves a specific snack food, all that information can be leveraged to create a better individualized stay for each person.

Today’s guests crave memorable moments, and when technology is used to enhance experience, it’s likely easier to upsell and earn more revenue per guest. It’s especially important now that many select-service hotels have activated and monetized their lobbies. Plus, guests are more likely to be loyal and share how great your hotel was with other people likely to visit your town. When a guest feels ownership over their stay and are appreciated, it translates into more engaged guests as they collect more memories with you and your hotel’s staff.

Equally important is how a cloud-based PMS creates a sense of control for the hotel operator. With access to more financial reports than ever before, and the benefit of having all hotel related systems go through a central hub, hoteliers are maximizing operational efficiency in ways never expected a few years earlier. Embracing technology is no longer an option, it’s a must-have part of any hotel business.

Don’t let increasingly complex operating get you down. While this massive operational sea of change can be scary at the onset, finding the right technology partners can simplify the experience for you. Hotel technology doesn’t have to be scary; it must be embraced.       ■

Joshua Molina is marketing communications manager at SkyTouch Technologies, a PMS that provides visibility and control of operations through real-time, impactful business analytics. With fully integrated property, rate and distribution management, 24/7 tech support, plus over 100 interfaces, the SkyTouch PMS has been optimized to provide proven value, scalability and mobility, delighting more than 6,000 customers for over 10 years. To learn more, visit www.skytouchtechnology.com.

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