From international hotel chains to small business owners, advancements in the technological field have impacted all segments of the tourism industry. As technology continues to revolutionize this sector, one of the side effects is the slow demise of physical travel agencies in favor of niche online travel websites and OTAs.
Nowadays, the hotel industry has seen great changes in the way clients plan and book vacations. This is not just limited to finding new experiences but it is also imperative to what your guests experience during their stay.
This article is the follow-up to A History of the Hospitality Industry, Part 1, and explores the recent explosion of social networks, globalization, and platforms like Airbnb and Couchsurfing, and discusses their impact on travelers and hoteliers alike.
Fueled by technology and the power of modern software, consumer expectations are growing. Hotel guests have become aware of what they want, and hoteliers need to continually exceed their hopes. In an industry where guests anticipate a positive experience, modern technology provides the right means for overcoming this challenge.
With the increasing popularity of social media, people have the capability to review, rate, and recommend hotels to their friends and family. Technology has not only streamlined this industry but has also increased competition on the market.
Moreover, globalization of trade and economy has had a direct impact on the price of travel. A large pool of competition has brought the prices down, which has allowed more people to travel.
IT tools have altered how the hospitality industry works. Today, market wisdom suggests that hotels must embrace the latest tech to survive in a highly competitive environment. This change has also created opportunities for owners of small and medium sized hotels to showcase their services to their target audience. For these hoteliers, the impact can be distinguished into two main concepts: complexity and control.
Complexity: Internet and globalization have dramatically changed the way the hotel industry can interact both professionally and personally with its customers. Twenty years ago, it would have been impossible for hoteliers to discover who their real customers were and what their preferences were.
But with the availability of an enormous set of information on the internet, and the ubiquity of other technologies, customers have options they never had before. These create a real world of opportunities for the hotelier in the form of new knowledge, new tools, and new benefits.
Control: Advancements in technology have made important information accessible to clients. This has allowed them to check and compare the price of hotels, check reviews, and make use of discount offers.
However, its impact on the hotel owner is different. It provides unparalleled visibility into your business, which can be massive if you can connect with your guests and show them where you are, as well as who you are. As a hotel owner, it is up to you to take control of the information published and distributed on different booking channels.
Platforms like Airbnb and Couchsurfing have revolutionized the lodging market by keeping hotel rates in check, and making extra rooms available during peak periods when hotel rooms often sell out completely. Ironically, it seems to be a bad situation for hotels, who traditionally benefit from room scarcity as customers are forced to pay higher rates.
In reality, there are some benefits of such marketplaces for the hotel owners as well. Primarily, it allows you to improve your property and make it an exciting place to stay for your guests. Secondly, Airbnb doesn’t provide any reasonable assurance that the property will be as advertised. As individual hosts create their own listings, there is no objective view which can serve as a guarantee for the guests. Thirdly, even if local listings become popular among travelers, they most often cannot match the location, amenities, and services offered by hotels.
The hotel industry needs to reinvent its policies to meet the demands of the future. The rise of the internet, globalization, and independent platforms have created a highly competitive environment in the hospitality sector.
Hotel owners now know that HD televisions are no longer enough to satisfy their customers in this day and age. This situation has justified the use of AI, Machine Learning, and Data Mining techniques to gather and analyze customer data to create important business insights.
While there is little doubt about the advantages of technology in shaping the future for hotels, there are still some things that can never be completely replaced: the human touch. In reality, human interactions are becoming less common, and whenever they do take place, they are highly valued.