In their 2016 research paper, Technology induced competitive advantage: a case of US lodging industry, Anil Bilgihan & Youcheng Wang concluded that hotels can gain a significant competitive advantage when owners can integrate all possible technologies “with a harmony” that allows the entire organization to synergize. The researchers also argued that to gain a competitive advantage, hotels need to invest in human resources, knowledge, and latest hospitality technologies.
Hospitality professionals will agree that the industry is not just competitive, its also highly fragmented. With every brand having its own special offerings, the one thing that can significantly differentiate hotels is the technology they employ to make the stay convenient for guests.
3 Ways Hotel Technology Brings a Competitive Advantage
There is a vast list of ways technology can be implemented at hotels to gain a significant competitive advantage. Let’s look at the three simplest applications of technology being integrated into hotels and are now considered part of their overall business strategy.
Property Management Systems
PMS or Property Management Systems are a blessing for any hotel business. This highly customized and elaborate software is designed to address all the areas of hotel management and optimize efficiency even at multinational hotel franchises.
Oracle’s Opera is by far the most widely employed PMS in world hospitality. Although its a highly technical option, brands including the Marriott Group, Hilton Group, and Wyndham Group employ the PMS in all their properties. You can read more about the competitive advantages Opera PMS brings to hotels in our exclusive article here.
A property management system brings brilliant competencies to hotels by managing revenue, bookings, room service, housekeeping, tours, car rentals, laundry, restaurants, business services, and signage services.
By synchronizing all guest data and making it available to hotel staff across a property, PMS tools can reduce service delivery times and deliver premium guest satisfaction, hence better ratings for hotels. This also allows staff to take initiative and make spontaneous decisions in accordance with hotel standards.
Although integrating a PMS is essential it is highly recommended to employ the expertise of a hotel technology provider or managed hotel technology partner. These specialized technology providers tend to offer multiple benefits when integrating various technologies at hotels.
A good hotel technology provider will not only assist you with integrating property management systems but also carefully manage the hotel budget. Hotel technology providers can also alleviate the stress of managing the technology on a daily basis, by providing instant & 24/7 support.
Hotel technology providers are also an excellent resource that keeps your technology in check and compliant with a rise in cyber threats affecting hotel businesses. These highly proficient service providers are always monitoring your hotel technology network ensuring its security while managing the daily functions of your PMS.
Digital Marketing & Branding
As mass marketing slowly moves towards a declining trend, personalized and more specific marketing has become the trend. Internet and social marketing are now becoming popular business strategies to reach more targeted and relevant audiences directly.
The first advantage that technology has simply landed for hotels on a plate is a well-designed and responsive website. A highly accessible website, also optimized for mobile devices, is the ideal place to begin branding and attracting potential guests to book their stays online. The website is also a great place to offer personalization options like airport pickup, special room amenities, and meal planning, etc.
Social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, YouTube, LinkedIn, and other platforms are of great significance now. These are the platforms where you interact with your guests and potential audiences to give your brand a humanized existence. The way & speed at which hotels interact with customers, respond to their queries and address their issues is where they start building the brand name.
Technology has given hotels the opportunity that every business yearns for. Imagine a single guest’s positive review on an Instagram photo, or, a family tagging hotel profiles in their summer vacation photos. The applications of digital branding can be simply unlimited.
A 2003 research by Magnini, et al. concluded that hotels were using six essential factors to build effective marketing strategies that include:
- creating direct mail campaigns,
- planning seasonal promotions,
- planning the timing and placement of ad campaigns,
- create personal advertisements,
- define growing and emerging markets,
- help in room reservations
These tools the research concludes are generally used together with other strategic analysis and statistical modeling tools to achieve great competitive advantage. In modern-day digital marketing, hotels partner with I.T. solution providers to manage their day to day marketing campaigns.
A managed I.T. solutions provider can assist hotels to deliver their message to larger and more relevant audiences through research. These I.T. providers also offer the added benefit of managing social network profiles of hotels.
Data Mining, Trend Analysis & Predictive Marketing
In his very interesting research paper, Technology’s Effect on Hotels and Restaurants: Building a Strategic Competitive Advantage, Dean A. Koutroumanis concludes that technology has a prolific impact when applied with its sheer capability.
In his classic 1998 study, Data warehousing: The latest weapon for the lodging industry?, Robert Griffin discusses how using information collected over years for strategic marketing analysis, targeting new customers, fine-tuning loyalty programs, sales analysis and conducting trend analysis. Griffin argued that collecting, processing, and accessing big data has proven to build credible competitive advantage for hotels.
Data warehousing had already taken roots within the hotel industry by 1996, as T.Robison concluded in his research in the same year. His research concluded that data warehousing had delivered an ROI of 401% with a phenomenal payback of 2.31 years.
Today, the plethora of data mining, analysis, prediction, and management software has allowed hotels to go even further in delivering a superior guest technology experience.
One of the best advantages Big Data delivers are the efficiencies for revenue management systems. Leading edge analysis tools can conduct predictive analysis to identify demand in specific seasons. Once demand projections are made, managements can then price rooms and amenities to optimize revenue.
Data is also crucial to delivering a highly personalized & enhanced guest experience using hotel technology. We can also call it a technology advantage through technology. Building customized profiles of guests and then listening to them can allow hotels to congratulate them on special events, providing customized amenities & facilities, and delivering services before them request them can all lead to the superior guest experience.
Technology has vast application across hotels with numerous advantages including in-room tech, self-service guest technology, mobile applications and cutting edge multimedia amenities still in their infancy.
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