ITB 2019 Special Reporting
Driving the hotel industry with innovation in Australia and New Zealand
Monday, 19th August 2019
Source : Ashley Clayton, Noble Systems

Australia and New Zealand are at a tourism crossroads: The island and continent have seen a massive boom in tourism over the last few years, Australian capital cities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide saw 80% occupancy in 2018, with revenue per available room (RevPAR) expected to increase  by more that 3% in 2019.1

Much of this growth has been driven by tourists from China and Southeast Asia. In April 2018, Australia ranked number two on the list of preferred destinations for Chinese tourists. However, the country dropped to number four in preference by October of that same year. 

With international travel spending from Chinese tourists reaching $11.3 billion in Australia, it’s very important for Australian hotels to cater to the Chinese market. Unfortunately, many Chinese tourists complain of Australia’s limited infrastructure. The average Chinese tourist is a tech-savvy middle-class individual. They’re used to receiving  technological amenities – and their biggest complaint when it comes to Australia is a lack of free regional WiFi.

In order to continue capitalising on the tourist boom from Southeast Asia, hotels in Australia and New Zealand need to invest in technological innovations that will make it easier and more comfortable for Chinese tourists to visit and share their experiences.

Matching Chinese App Innovations

Many Western companies don’t instantly think of China when it comes to app innovations, but the fact of the matter is that Chinese consumers use their smartphones in an almost completely different way than Western users.

In Australia or the US, smartphone users download multiple applications, and each app only does one thing. You have one app for social media, one app for ordering food, one app for hailing a rideshare and so on.

In China, users download “super apps”. A super app will let you order food, hail a cab and talk to your friends on social media – all without switching applications. One of these apps, known as Meituan Dianping, reached 350 million Chinese users in 2018, allowing them to make almost $28 billion USD in transactions. The app’s developer was named as one of the world’s most innovative organisations by Fast Company, beating Western household names such as Netflix, Amazon and Google.

Can Australian Hotels Imitate the Success of Chinese Super Apps?

Although many Chinese tourists visit Australia and New Zealand every year, there’s still a limited number of Chinese-language services. Whilst this poses a drawback for Chinese tourists, it poses an advantage for hotels – because it would be relatively easy to aggregate several of these services into a hypothetical “hotel super app”.

After using the app to rent a room, a Chinese tourist could easily use the app to rent a car from a Chinese-speaking agency, purchase bus and rail tickets using a Chinese-language interface, order food from local restaurants with Chinese menus and even hire Chinese-speaking tour guides or connect with other tour groups.

Since Chinese consumers are already familiar with super apps, using a super app provided by a hotel and geared towards tourism wouldn’t be a stretch. Giving Chinese residents this functionality would go a long way towards rectifying other technological deficits that they may experience in Australia – such as a lack of free regional WiFi.

Using Advanced Telephony to Create a Super App – Fast

In the here and now, it might be difficult for an Australian hotel to assemble teams of developers, gain cooperation from local businesses and create the APIs that would enable the creation of a super app. The next best thing – and the thing that could be created as fast as possible in the interim – would be an app powered by telephony and designed to extend the hotel’s concierge service.

Imagine the following:

A Chinese tourist uses a hotel app to purchase a room in an Australian hotel. She has questions about her reservation, so she uses an in-app feature to dial the help desk. The app knows that she’s in China and only speaks Chinese, so it immediately connects her to a Chinese-speaking operator or a Chinese-language IVR menu. Once she starts speaking with an operator, the app immediately pushes her name, email address and reservation number to the operator so that the information is available at a glance.

The hotel is able to record the call automatically and take note of her issue, how she feels about it and whether the issue was resolved. Once she arrives in China, the tourist receives a follow-up call or an in-app notification to make sure that everything went smoothly.

After she arrives in the hotel, the tourist begins looking for things to do. She can call the hotel desk to get a recommendation, or she can browse her app. The app brings up the names of local tourism companies and activities that accommodate Chinese speakers. She can dial these companies directly from the app or push a button and ask the hotel to make arrangements. Once she returns from her activities, the hotel can follow up to ask if she was satisfied and then make more personalised recommendations based on her preferences.

Finally, based on the cadence of her last visit, the app can send a push notification around the next time the tourist might be planning a trip. “It looks like you had a good time the last time you visited Australia. Would you care to stay in our hotel once again?”

For Australian hotel chains, catering to a wealthy and sophisticated Chinese consumer base remains one of their core revenue-boosting activities. Whilst they can’t build public infrastructure or regional WiFi networks, they can use advanced telephony to quickly build applications that replicate the user experiences that Chinese customers are most familiar with – giving them a technological taste of home away from home.

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Ashley Clayton is General Manager for Noble Systems Australia, a leader in omnichannel contact centre technology. Noble’s powerful technology solutions designed for the Travel and Vacation Ownership industry help you manage customer communications at every stage of the customer lifecycle. From customer acquisition to managing reservations and service issues, Noble can help you do it more efficiently than ever before. 

Tens of thousands of agents at client installations worldwide use Noble platforms to manage millions of customer contacts each day. Noble offers a unified suite of inbound, outbound and omnichannel contact processing, strategy planning, resource management and compliance tools for companies of all sizes. The company’s premise, cloud, and innovative premise/cloud hybrid platforms include ACD, predictive dialing, blended processing, recording and monitoring, IVR, messaging, interaction analytics, process automation, workforce management and gamification. 

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