Lockdowns and slow business forced hotels around the world to cut costs and slim down operations. This has led many hoteliers to embrace automation and innovative technology as part of the solution.
According to a recent survey by Atomize, 64% of hoteliers believe the effects of Covid19 will accelerate their need to re-assess their hotel tech stack. 42% of participants are considering or have already taken this step because of the crisis. 28% are still on the fence about it.
Here’s why now is the best time to, in the words of Nike, just do it.
A new demand for increased automation and digitization
New safety and hygiene measures as well as the need to slash costs have accelerated tech adoption in the hospitality industry. Automating or digitizing services previously carried out manually or in person makes it easier to reduce expenses and to apply revised procedures.
This is true for both the front and back of house. For example, online check-in and check-out create a contactless arrival and departure. At restaurants, in-app meal orders and payments reduce the direct contact between guests and staff.
In the back of house, especially the sales and revenue management departments benefit from modern systems that automate time-consuming processes and run in the cloud. For example, a recent study by OTA Insight revealed that 68% of revenue managers follow market occupancy while 57% check competitor pricing to keep an overview of their market’s recovery. Only a business intelligence tool can gather and collate all this data in seconds and save the team hours of manual work.
In short, recent months have proven that tech solutions can save you time and money from day one all while improving your guests’ experience and your staff’s productivity.
Many hoteliers have experienced this first-hand. Half of our survey participants say technology has supported their recovery efforts. PMS and staff collaboration software ranked highest (mentioned by 59% of respondents as ‘very important’). Marketing (e.g. CRMs and booking engines) and revenue management solutions (e.g. RMS and rate shopping tools) came in close behind with 54% and 42% saying these programs were vital for their operation.
How to review your hotel tech stack
Before you start signing new contracts for all the hotel tech solutions you can find, audit your existing ones. Go through all departments and make a list of programs, apps and platforms you’re currently using. Then evaluate each one based on the following criteria.
- Cost and payment plan: Can you afford it? How is the payment plan impacting your cashflow?
- Your KPIs: Does this tool help you achieve them?
- The ROI: How much money does this tool help you save/make? Does it give you ROI in a different way?
- Ease of use and adoption: How much does your staff like and use the tool?
- Customer support: Are you satisfied with it?
- The tool’s importance to your business: How would you do without it? Is it essential? What are its key benefits you don’t want to live without?
(Add or remove criteria from this list to make it fit your property.)
Collect your answers in a spreadsheet and evaluate where you could do better with a more effective, intuitive, or cost-efficient tool. If you want to replace or add several tech solutions, start with the ones that will make the biggest difference and work your way down the list.
Research your new tools carefully, request a discovery call or a demo if it’s available and make an educated decision about what to implement.
Consider this before changing your tech stack
The current situation likely forced you to make drastic changes at your property e.g. changing your lobby’s layout, screening your guests’ temperature or setting up hand sanitizer stations. However, some of these updates may no longer be needed once there is a vaccine.
Consider this when you choose both new tech solutions and/or hardware upgrades.
- Which new procedures will stay relevant even once a vaccine is developed and restrictions are further eased or lifted?
- Which interim solutions are the most cost-effective for practices that will become redundant once there’s a vaccine?
The idea is to invest most heavily in things you will still benefit from once security measures are relaxed and demand reaches pre-Covid levels again.
Four things to look for in new hospitality tech solutions
Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that investing in a cloud-based tech solution is the way to go. Here’s why, plus three other important criteria your new tech solutions should fulfill.
- Cloud-based operation: This allows for more flexibility, offers access from anywhere, reduces costs and increases security.
- Easy integrations: The easier and cheaper integrations are, the better. This will allow you to connect everything in your current tech stack and to update it easily in the future.
- Scalability: If you’re planning to grow your portfolio or want to start with a limited-service package and upgrade later, a scalable solution will offer you more flexibility and value for money.
- Automation: Which parts of your workflow will this tool automate? How much influence do you have over processes once you’ve automated them? The more time you save with this tool all while maintaining your flexibility, the better.
- Mobile-adapted solutions
Still today in year 2020, far from all hospitality tech solutions are 100% mobile-friendly and works frictionless on a mobile screen. This is a must in today’s dynamic and flexible working culture.
Why this is especially important for your revenue management tools
Covid19 made it even more important for revenue teams to leverage their personal experience and knowledge of the market when evaluating real-time data and reacting to this unprecedented situation.
Still, a powerful, modern RMS remains crucial due to the huge amounts of data revenue managers need to process and evaluate to make decisions quickly every day. This can only be done efficiently with a tool that checks all the boxes mentioned above and operates in real time.
A cloud-based RMS will allow staff to access it whether they are in the office or working from home.
Strong integration capabilities will make it easy to connect the RMS to your PMS, channel managers and other relevant tech solutions. This allows your RMS to evaluate demand data and current pick-up in real time, give accurate rate suggestions or even make automatic rate changes when needed. Especially with so many unpredictable market changes and frequently updated travel restrictions, this agility will make the difference between your property’s success and failure.
Scalability is key if you want to be flexible with the services you sign up for or if you run (or plan to run) several properties on the same system. Today, every penny count, and you can’t afford to waste money paying for expensive packages full of features you don’t use.
Finally, automation options should give you the choice between live rate suggestions or automatic rate updates so you can make the most of today’s volatile markets all while having maximum control.
Now that you know how to evaluate your hotel tech stack and what to look for in your new hotel tech tools, it’s time to get to work. Which is the first new solution you want to adopt?
If it’s Atomize, reach out to our team now and we’ll be happy to help you find the option that will best support your property during and after this recovery phase.