Guest engagement and satisfaction will be the benchmarks upon which your hotel will either thrive or fail. If your strategy isn’t focused around these key metrics then you’re falling behind.
The pandemic has left occupancy rates at their lowest rate since 1970 and even conservative estimates expect them to remain low for four years. No event has had such a long-lasting and negative impact on hotels and there is no quick fix.
The temptation will be to view digital technology as a way to reduce costs, reduce headcount and create leaner, simpler hotels. And while for many this may prove effective short term, it misses the bigger picture and could see you fall behind competitors when things return to normal.
This is a prime opportunity to evaluate your digital strategy as a competitive advantage and view everything you do through a guest experience lens.
In a previous article, we talked about starting small and building a digital roadmap to seamless guest experiences and understanding guest journeys. In this piece we take a look at one of the bigger challenges in bringing that to fruition: informational silos.
Modernise and APIs: Interoperability is key
If every touchpoint with your guest is digitally enabled and connected to a central system, every guest gets an instant response and you get a full picture of all guests’ wants and needs.
It’s the panacea for guest engagement and fundamental in creating those effortless experiences digitally savvy consumers want. As always, it sounds so simple when written down but it can be quite an undertaking to put into practice.
You probably already recognised data as the lifeblood of any cohesive system. Utilising data effectively, sharing it between systems and analysing it effectively enables real-time offerings based on behaviour, a true next generation experience.
Modern technology is designed with the understanding it will form part of a wider system, offering open API architecture as standard. There is an opportunity to integrate tools to streamline business processes and facilitate data sharing to better understand and predict customer behaviour.
When evaluating your digital strategy, examine the breadth and depth of your existing platform:
- Do your core systems work together effortlessly?
- Do you run off of one centralised database?
- Can you provide real-time information to your partners?
- Are you maintaining a seamless platform or a jumble of tools?
- Can new offerings be added easily by ‘plug and play’?
Take this opportunity to modernise and make interoperability a core tenet of any decision. Reconsider those disparate single-feature solutions and adopt an integrated approach.
Avoid the monolith trap: diversify and integrate
To take advantage of this moment to modernise, you tend to explore the marketplace for digital solutions. Accelerated digital transformation and continual innovation can make this an extremely crowded and confusing endeavour.
There are myriad tools and applications and platforms and gadgets and hardware and software to look at. Each with its own features and benefits and requirements.
According to Hotel Hero, a software discovery platform, there are over 140 digital products catering to the hotel guest experience alone. Where to begin?
What is the right technology strategy for now and the future? What products will support rapidly shifting customer demands?
While there is no one size fits all solution, there will always be a temptation to lean into those platforms that address multiple use cases. While at a high level they appear to represent value for money, they often fall short on flexibility and overall operational performance.
Choosing an inflexible monolithic solution over a diversified and integrated technology stack will make you the same as everyone else and create challenges in standing out from the crowd.
From our experience, the hotels that offer differentiated services are those that guests love and keep going back to.
Adopt an ecosystem approach
And finally, on this topic of digital transformation and breaking down information silos, you need to adopt an ecosystem approach.
Develop a core platform around your customer and support their experience through all interactions. This core will become your backbone to support all customer touchpoints.
Core components such as a CRM, Property Management System, Content Management System, mobile applications and websites, even access control and security can then be connected to the backbone.
An ecosystem approach then allows you to upgrade and adapt a specific element without having to unpick the entire system or pile in further investment. Over time the isolated data and feature silos individual systems exist in are eroded.
Working this way, new features, new guest services and new customer journeys can be introduced and tested easily.
Data flows more freely throughout the system too and collaboration between people, teams and systems is enhanced delivering better experiences for guests and employees.
Are you confident in your digital strategy?
If you’re considering evaluating your existing systems and architecture, we run workshops to help hotels gain alignment around future plans and overcome some of the challenges they currently face. Secure a spot on our next one and let's work through your strategy together.