Tourism’s digital transformation is our phoenix rising from the pandemic ashes - Insights
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Tourism’s digital transformation is our phoenix rising from the pandemic ashes

digital transformationAs both international and domestic borders are opening throughout Australia, offering some stability, hoteliers collectively are carrying out a sigh of relief. 

Undeniably these have been the toughest circumstances faced in our history, but there is one positive from this period that will also change how we operate forever. 

And that’s our digital transformation. 

You may recall that in Tourism Australia’s 2020 Strategy it was noted that only one third of the nation’s travel operators had online booking and payment facilities. 

We were well behind our fellow countries across the Western world. No wonder that “building competitive digital capabilities” was one of the body’s six priority focuses. 

However, while business was booming, advancements in technology chugged along only slowly. 

Tourism businesses were, in reality, quite slow to adapt. There didn’t really seem to be much of a need for sinking the investment, and there certainly wasn’t the time. 

While there will never be anything to celebrate regarding the impact of COVID-19, the adaptation of technology has transformed almost overnight and with that brings incredible opportunity for our future. 

An industry colleague said it best in that – “we’ve quite literally skipped a generation when it comes to our industry’s digital upskill.”

You only have to read through Tourism Australia’s draft 2030 strategy to get a small sense of the sophistication of technology in the industry compared to its previous iteration. It talks to big data, specifically “relevant, robust and timely data and insights” as tools that will underpin critical decision-making. And it talks about the importance of this technology change as being granular, and real-time, even proposing a data-focused working group to help leverage insights for the growth of our industry. 

Importantly, it also recognises a key philosophy that has underpinned how Expedia Group operates as a platform for our tourism partners. And that is: 

“The modern traveller expects a seamless digital experience across their journey – from research to booking, concluding transactions, and undertaking the experience itself. Technology has the powerful ability to simultaneously enhance the travel experience, increase competitiveness, and foster innovation.” – Page 19. 

As a leader in technology, we put the power of the world’s most brilliant engineering minds to work and invest massively in technology development – all so that our partners don’t need to. 

We provide mass asset banks of real-time data and operational tools to our hotel partners for free. Tools that will level the playing field for our independent partners who don’t have the budget to invest themselves against the big chains and will be critical as our tourism operators begin to rebuild. 

Take for example, the concept of setting a daily rate. It’s been two years, or thereabouts since we’ve had international travellers. I mean, we are only just navigating a (mostly) open country for domestic travel. How can a mum and dad who run a hotel out of somewhere like Cairns possibly know what to charge per night in this new era? The answer is technology. 

For instance, we have a revenue management solution, Rev+. It draws pricing intelligence from our live and global portfolio of travel brands to deliver data-driven predictions on key business drivers such as what a hotel should be charging at any given moment, based on competition, compression, and other market dynamics.

Essentially, our tool allows accommodation partners to make informed, data-driven choices, rather than relying on instincts or guesswork. 

Rev+ has helped partners drive over $200 million in total incremental revenue. Previously, we saw that hotel partners who engaged in Rev+ experienced an average up to 6 percent more incremental revenue uplift than hotels in their competitive set not using Rev+.

After a crippling couple of years, these tools are more vital than ever, but the positive take away – our phoenix from the pandemic ashes – is that the industry’s adaptation of them is higher than ever. 

We have a nation of newly tech-savvy hotels who see the value of insight, and it’s the greenest shoot out there for our industry’s rebuild. 

We need to develop the tools, crunch the data and provide invaluable insights, so our hotel industry can reopen and commit their precious time to providing what we’ve all missed so much – a really great night away. 

About the author

Drew Bowering is Senior Director, Market Management, APAC, Expedia Group.

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