What are the components of the optimal hotel technology stack? How can these benefit your business? And what is next on the horizon? These and other hot topics came up for discussion at last week’s Revenue Management 3.0 – Where Next? conference, held in London.
Professor Dimitrios Buhalis, Head of the Department of Tourism and Hospitality and Director of the eTourism Lab at Bournemouth University, led the discussion. Panellists who joined him included Duetto’s Managing Director, EMEA, Michael McCartan; David Turnbull, Co-Founder and CCO, SnapShot; and Andrew Metcalfe, Chief Technology Officer at Guestline.
Managing data was a core component of the discussion, with McCartan saying that hotels need to get better at ingesting data. “They need to look at future-looking data sets as well as historical data and use them better,” he said.
According to McCartan, this forward-thinking approach to data and predictive analytics will help hotels break away from the historical Best Available Rate (BAR) approach to pricing, helping them adopt an Open Pricing policy.
“Every piece of inventory can be priced independently based on the demand we see for it. Hotels can price very accurately, down to an individual level, delivering the right price at the right time to the right customer,” he explained.
Andrew Metcalfe from Guestline agreed. “It’s about making sure data is in the right place at the right time and anticipate who wants the data and when,” he remarked.
David Turnbull from SnapShot called for a simplification of the processes surrounding hotel technology.
“Buying tech for hotels should be as simple as downloading an app for your phone,” he said. “As an industry, we have a major pain point in collecting data. Why are we so obsessed by the reservation when we own 24, 48 or 72 hours of the guest experience? We need the perishable data captured in the moment. Transactional reservation information is only one element. We need to capture guest data to improve the experience.”
REMOVING FRICTION POINTS
Duetto’s McCartan talked about how the right use of technology can be used to remove many of the friction points experienced by the guest during their stay, enabling staff to then focus on the human element of the guest experience.
“From the time to book to time they check out, it is littered with friction points,” he said. “Front desk is a needed point of engagement — but 99% of that engagement is not adding any value, that’s a necessary evil. Hotels need to look at those friction points and remove them. With data and technology [such as mobile check-in] you can do away with those unnecessary friction points.”
He added: “Hotels need to look for applications that free up their time to focus on the guest experience. Machines will never replace humans, but we need machines to replace friction points. Humans sit on top of the machines to add the human touch. Then we become true hospitality professionals. Invest in an architecture that allows for seamless engagement with the guest. It’s about high touch, high tech.”
Bringing the conversation back to hotel Revenue Strategy, the panellists considered technological innovations in other fields, such as Tesla and Amazon, and how the hotel industry can mirror these.
“People say retail is five years ahead,” said Guestline’s Metcalfe. “The companies that have been most successful are the ones that made the workflow right. People use Amazon because they get you the stuff you want easily and efficiently. We have to get the basics right.”
McCartan took the Amazon analogy to talk about streamlining the Revenue Strategy workflow.
“We are coming into a period where the value of Revenue Strategy is going to be elevated in a hotel,” he said. “Most revenue managers today spend a lot of time analysing the data and not making strategic decisions. They are bogged down in analysis. With predictive analytics all those rudimentary tasks that don’t add any value will be removed. We will get to a situation where the application is going to become an analyst sitting beside the revenue strategist – who will be managing by exception.”
Managing by exception will enable revenue managers to make the most of unusual and unique market opportunities that cannot be predicted or calculated. For the rest, technological innovations, such as Duetto’s Revenue Strategy Platform, will streamline the process of optimised pricing.
Sarah joined Duetto in 2015 as a contributing editor covering Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA). In 2017, she was promoted to Director of Content, EMEA. An experienced B2B travel industry journalist, Sarah spent 14 years working in the Middle East, most notably as senior editor – hospitality for ITP Publishing Group in Dubai, where she headed up the editorial teams on Hotelier Middle East, Caterer Middle East and Arabian Travel News. Sarah is now based back in the UK.