Budget season is upon us and with the long tail of the pandemic continuing to reflect in what we can devote to new initiatives, we nevertheless have to innovate. Between the continuation of a touchless guest journey right through to macroeconomic labor shortages, technology is the only way forward for many properties to hone revenue verticals while simultaneously increasing team productivity.
Our hope is that in these few paragraphs you are inspired to see some near-term possibilities for how various integrated platforms and physical upgrades can help you move forward, both to save costs as well as address the evolving post-pandemic guest expectations.
The pandemic has made an almost irreversible shift in travel behavior. People will continue to seek out ‘private,’ ‘secluded’ and other manner of spacious accommodations. What isn’t so obvious is the new sense of introspection that’s grown within us. While everyone enjoys a great dining experience, we’ve nevertheless become accustomed to cooking tasty meals at home; promoting your kitchenettes is thus an excellent differentiator. Many customers will also be reluctant to utilize shared facilities and will opt for those properties that offer guestroom exercise programs, more elaborate bathroom or spa amenities and other wellness-oriented upgrades.
How technology can help address these behavioral shifts, ask:
- What else can you do to offer contactless options, both for safety as well as convenience?
- What features within the PMS, booking engine and other platforms can you deploy to offer a more secluded hotel experience?
- How can you better integrate the tech stack around a customer data platform (CDP) so that you can a holistic view on what your travelers actually want and so that you can better drum up support from your loyalty base?
- How do you use technology to ‘reduce the middleman’ of service delivery?
- What features or platforms can you utilize to build more prearrival revenues so that you can smooth out shiftwork assignments as well as improve the onsite experience?
The Work-From-Anywhere Professional
Remote work, or at least semi-remote work, is here to stay. Your first task in trying to appeal to this growing cohort is to put yourself in their shoes to discern what specific services they would want to better facilitate a working while traveling situation.
Not so much technology-specific, but some questions are:
- Is your WiFi good enough throughout the property?
- Do your guestrooms have an ergonomic office setup to enable remote work?
- Do you offer daycare services for the digital nomads traveling with their families?
- What on-demand business services can you offer, such as meeting spaces available for rent by the hour through an app and activated via mobile keys?
- Can you deploy a chatbot to facilitate a lot of the basic inquiries that these customers are likely to ask during the booking process?
Due to the fear of coronavirus superspeader events, groups are shifting from grand, large-scale events to a series of smaller, localized ones, as epitomized by the hub-and-spoke model. As well, the lead time for group bookings is decreasing, most likely due to the erratic news cycle and the lingering fear that an event will need to be canceled at the last minute.
Again, we ask some questions:
- For corporate events, are you fully set up to facilitate hybrid meetings that incorporate physical services with teleconferencing solutions such as Zoom?
- How can you make all the various small group packages available for direct booking off your website so as to reduce the burden on your sales team?
- What CRM software are you using to track the groups segment and to reactivate pre-pandemic leads for future contracts?
The overall argument from all this is that the world has moved online. Those properties that thoroughly embrace technology while also developing programs to meet the post-pandemic changes in behavior will prosper while others may be left out of the money.