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People today expect to be connected always and everywhere; sometimes it’s hard to believe that there was a world before smartphones and Wi-Fi. In the time since Wi-Fi became ubiquitous in hotels, apartments, and public spaces, it has fueled the evolution of connectivity in a lot of ways. Just like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the most basic needs start at the bottom, and you can’t get to the next level without a strong foundation. 

By now, everyone is aware that hotel giant Marriott International announced on Friday a massive data breach that goes back more than four years and may have affected up to 500 million customers worldwide. 

After two years of preparation, the FlyZoo Hotel — a futuristic property that uses interactive technologies to do everything from greet guests to deliver room service — is ready for business. 

Mobile technology is fast becoming central to the entire travel experience. Consumers are increasingly using their smartphones to research trips, book accommodation, check in at the airport, and access their hotel room. But one of the next big roles mobile has to play in the travel process is mobile payment. The idea of an entirely cashless society might still seem some way off, but mobile payment is gaining popularity. As it becomes more widely used, its fast and frictionless nature will bring benefits before, during and after a trip. 

Digital marketing, also known as internet marketing, plays a significant role to boost hotel website traffic and online bookings. Recently, many big announcements were made in the digital industry, for example when Facebook introduced a new video format for marketers, or when Google announced a board core algorithm. If you are a new hotelier and want to stay ahead in the industry, then you should know what’s going on in the hotel digital marketing industry. 
 



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The Changing Face of the Business of Hotels And the Role of Technology: Part One

11/12/2013

Hotels are a business, and as such need to make money to stay in business. Hospitality is the art of the hotel business. Once the business was all about getting heads in beds, and driving customer satisfaction and loyalty by providing the best accommodations for the price, today the business is different. Today, hospitality is all about the customer experience; it is not sufficient to merely offer the same quality of stay at a similar price.

A significant difference in the business of hotels today is that as in the rest of the world outside of this industry, marketing and technology have converged. Every company, and many individuals, has a digital presence today. To do so, marketing people must use technology to establish branding and manage their multiple forms of communication, all of which are supported by yet more technology. For hotel companies, this convergence is changing the face of business, but more specifically it is changing the roles of staff responsible for technology. From CTOs down to IT managers the skill sets must be widely broadened in order for hotels to compete for shrinking market share.

This white paper will highlight some of the new trends and thoughts from experts in various fields, all of which can be applied to the hotel industry. Though these concepts may appear disjointed at first, when combined into an overarching strategy, one of convergence and one directed at the demographics of today’s travelers, one can see the synergy. The goal is to direct management styles to be more service oriented, increasing guest satisfaction and therefore improving the bottom line.

The old sales model looked something like this:
Product Services & Amenities + Customer Service = Long term loyalty, advocacy and referrals 

Notice the plus sign. In the past, a hotel could be a leader in any given area and fail in some other area and still be successful.
 
The new sales model equation might be better represented as this:
(Customer needs, wants and expectations) X (hotel staff) X (a culture of service excellence) X(business environment) X (product and services/amenities offerings) = exceptional experiential value

In this case the formula is multiplication, not addition. If any of those multipliers is a zero, then the final equation results in a zero. (Brett Patten, Hotel Sales Formula that Goes Against All Conventional Wisdom, http://ehotelier.com/hospitality-news/item.php?id=P26072&goback=%2Egde_110108_member_271836286#%21

In the second equation above the ultimate goal is the generation of exceptional experiential values for the hotel’s guests. Hoteliers can no longer be considered successful by simply providing a clean room with a big TV. Today’s traveler, and more importantly tomorrow’s traveler, is after an experience and not only just a good night’s sleep. This experiential factor is a driving motivator in the convergence of marketing and technology; specifically how it is tailored and deployed to facilitate experiences.

One of the key components of creating an experience begins with communication. Communication is now digital. It isn’t just voice anymore; it isn’t just email. Communication has exploded into Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, text, websites, mobile, apps, social media, and more. Hotels have been forced into the digital media age. Once the first online booking sites started, hoteliers have been in the digital footprint, many of which have been playing catch up ever since. Hotel companies need to become more mature with their digital strategies.

Digital maturity is the combination of digital intensity plus transformation management intensity. Digital maturity is the combination of a company’s investment in technology enabled initiatives plus the vision to shape a new future by developing new IT/marketing/business operations relationships to implement technology based change under governance.

From a company perspective, digital maturity can be broken into four levels of acumen:

  • Beginners – do very little with advanced digital capabilities
  • Fashionistas – experiment with sexy applications but lack the vision to gain synergies
  • Conservatives – favor prudence over innovation
  • Digirati – truly understand how to drive value with digital transformation

Hotel companies fall into the four levels as listed below. Due to online booking, every hotel company is past the beginner stage. What may be significant here is that 50 percent of our industry is simply spending money to look good while developing no real positive results.

  • 0% Beginners
  • 50% Fasionistas
  • 19% Conservatives
  • 31% Digirati

Why is it so important to become a Digirati? When compared to competitors, companies that can achieve the digirati level of digital maturity are driving 10 percent more revenue, are 26 percent more profitable, and have a 12 percent higher market value.

What is needed to bring the old way of hotel business up to the demands of hospitality today is a radical change in the role of the CTO and IT staff inside of hotel companies.

Please check back on Thursday for part two of this column and for more insight into the Changing Face of Business and how you can transform your business to the digirati level.

About The Author
Dan Phillips
Owner
Dare to Imagine


Dan Phillips is the owner of the consulting firm, Dare to Imagine (www.dare2i.com). He started behind the front desk of a Holiday Inn in 1987 and has been consulting to hotel companies since 1991. Dare to Imagine enlists hotel experts with decades of C-level experience at many of the major hotel companies in the world. He can be reached at dphillips@dare2i.com or by phone at 678-852-5913.

 
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