Unfortunately, our industry needs a big threat, one like AirBnB, to start thinking rationally and realize that hotel technology is at least 10 years behind. The mightiest competitors of hotels are companies that successfully take a big share of accommodation reservations by using only technology. They don't invest in rooms and amenities, they create powerful software to connect travellers with service providers. Take Uber, take AirBnB - they are all major disruptors that used technology to create a completely new breed of products and services that people love.
Why them? Because they have been smart enough to recognize the new demands and spot the niche for the so called sharing economy. They did not think of using existing technology in new ways. They created a completely new product that let new players in the game and changed the industry landscape for good. Meanwhile, traditional hotels did not move a lot from where they've been for decades. What happened in other travel sectors 10 years ago is only in its early stage or just a longing for accommodation providers.
Ain't it about time to change the way hotels use technology, then?
Both hoteliers and suppliers must realize that the time is running out for legacy PMS systems. Versatile but scalable cloud hotel management platforms must be available to replace the old school business software in hospitality. Hoteliers, on their turn, should stop fearing the change and stop thinking of adapting old tech to the new needs of customers. Our industry desperately needs bold innovation and new generation of managerial tools.
Besides traditional PMS features, like booking and inventory management, a plethora of new functionalities become a necessity for hospitality businesses. If they are developed by separate providers, the IT infrastructure in the property will remain fragile and vulnerable. The idea is simplification of operational processes and managerial tasks, not building an overwhelmingly hard to handle network of different systems. My point - middleware, i.e. consolidation of all systems into one powerful platform. A single image for everything - inventory, guest data, rates, reports etc.
For decades, hotels have missed the time between booking and arrival. Valuable time that must be used to build relationships. The in-house services also stick to the past. Once the guest leaves, the communication stops. New technology helps hoteliers engage their guests before arrival, during stay and after departure from the property. This extended moments of engagement can significantly increase loyalty, revenue and customer satisfaction. Personalization is key for these kind of services and can be achieved by adopting mobile hotel apps, beacons, messaging, kiosks and other advanced technology.
The world has gone digital. Period. In other words, travellers shop online and switch devices during the purchasing process. The online marketplace knows no limits but the good news is that hotels can now easily have their own digital channels. Own website, social networks, OTAs, the distribution mix is diverse and in order to be good at balancing direct vs. intermediary sales hotel managers can not compromise with distribution and revenue management technology. Nothing less than a cutting-edge web booking engine, instant synchronisation, automated updates of rates and availability and powerful analytics and reporting could do the trick.
Not the big guys' responsibility
It is often wrongly assumed that big changes, especially in technology, should come from the big brands. Though they may have the budget and the volume to invest and experiment, independent properties are not less eligible to become industry leaders and innovators. Independence gives hoteliers the power to be creative, to find more ways to customize the guest experience and provide unique and memorable service. Technology is what helps them deliver and materialize the fruits of their creativity. Last but not least, technology today, thanks to cloud computing, gives hoteliers the competitive edge, eliminating the advantage of big-box hotels to make big investments in IT and hi-tech solutions. All sort of last generation digital services and distribution instruments are now easily accessible and quite affordable. Everything hotels and suppliers have to do is say goodbye to old school systems and start anew, building powerful technology and trustworthy reliable partnerships, all in favour of travellers.
About Clock Software
Clock Software is a global provider of cloud-based property management systems (PMS), integrated online distribution, online & kiosk hotel self check-in solutions and mobile & in-room guest engagement systems with customers in more than 65 countries.