Building a Hotel Technology Solutions Strategy
How many systems and vendors do you have in place today to manage your critical distribution, commerce, marketing and engagement functions? Many hotels we speak with are using upwards of 20 systems, often a mix of legacy and more modern systems, with wide-ranging capabilities from their core Property Management System to more sophisticated Customer Relationship Management and marketing automation.
The question is, how many of these technology solutions are getting you closer to your corporate mission and goals? How many of these systems help you deliver memorable experiences to your guests? How many of these systems empower your employees to surprise and delight your guests with personalized service?
At Revinate, we’re seeing a shift in how our hotel customers are approaching their technology solution strategies. The specific strategies vary with size and complexity of the brand, geography, and other factors, but they all share a link back to the specific mission and goals of the company.
Historically, many brands have been reactive, cobbling together new modern systems with the legacy systems already in place. The Frankenstein-like result brings many challenges, limiting the front-end experiences you’re ultimately able to offer your guests. Today, forward-thinking brands are proactively taking back control by streamlining vendors, driving massive simplification for their business, employees, and even their guests.
A simplified and focused technology solutions strategy has three interconnected benefits: data unification, cost savings, and employee empowerment.
Is your guest data locked away in numerous systems? Not only do we see these data siloes hinder guest database segmentation and efficiency, they can also greatly limit your revenue potential. This challenge is not unique to hospitality. Consider how global shoe and accessory chain Aldo Group successfully integrated its legacy and more modern IT systems. Aldo worked with an integration software provider to integrate over 100 systems, including its e-commerce platform (Hybris), order management (IBM), merchandising, and other core systems. According to Aldo’s CIO Lance Martel, shortly after the new platform rolled out, Aldo had its highest-ever-grossing Black Friday and Cyber Monday. “The general growth of e-commerce, mobile and in-store technologies are all powered by this data integration technology,” says Martel.
As another example, as a hotelier, imagine if you could send a targeted campaign only to your guests who are most likely to recommend your hotel, or to your most active social media advocates. These campaigns, based on unified data, typically see a much higher return on investment than generic blast marketing.
Having multiple systems that don’t share data is not just inefficient, it also comes at high cost, with the expense of so many different technology systems.
Many IT executives are surprised to calculate their true total cost of ownership, since their systems live in different departments, and vendor pricing models vary in complexity from open, “all-you-can-eat” platforms to those which may pack unwelcome incremental charges for data connections, product enhancements, or professional services. A complete cost analysis is a critical component of any systems strategy.
In addition to unifying your data and cutting costs, a simplified approach to your technological infrastructure can have a significant impact on your staff, by giving them the right tools to surprise and delight guests. For example, imagine if your staff could leave a complimentary bottle of wine for a guest badged as a “wine lover” in their guest profile. Or imagine that your front desk staff could see a daily summary of all guests arriving without an email, empowering them to capture these emails at check-in. Then post-stay, a marketing campaign can be sent to all OTA bookers asking them to “book direct” for the next visit.
In summary, winning hotels are coming up with a clearly defined technology strategy that underpins their corporate goals. It all begins with an assessment of your current systems, vendors, and integrations. Do they easily connect to unlock rich guest insights? At what cost? Do they empower your employees to offer personalized service?
Answering these questions will start you on the journey to truly knowing your guests. Failure to act now will only exacerbate the problem down the road, as your hotel becomes more and more reliant on data in expensive, siloed systems. A unified data approach is the immediate path to more actionable insights that enable you to deliver the personalized experience your guests expect.
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