The events of 2020 permanently changed the hospitality industry. The need for agile travel distribution is more important now than ever, as hoteliers navigate the changes in guest demands and adapt their content, distribution and fulfilment accordingly.
Frank Trampert, SVP and Global Managing Director Commercial at Sabre Hospitality Solutions and Stefan Leser, CEO at Langham Hospitality Group outlined the paradigm shift within the hospitality industry, and how to use technology to meet new customer behaviours.
A crisis is often a catalyst for change, and the challenges of the past year have provided the hospitality industry with the opportunity to step back, re-assess and innovate.
Hoteliers have had to take a new perspective on how they do business, rethinking what their product is or can be in the future, how to reach and support the needs of new customer segments, and what the systematic needs are around content and product creation, distribution and fulfilment.
Successfully navigating the paradigm shifts within the industry starts with a diversified retail and distribution strategy, meaning that hotels must be present in all travel booking channels, while stimulating demand in a smart, flexible and even creative way – and also taking into account the emergence of new types of customers.
“The travel restrictions put in place over the past year have meant that the world has become more ‘local’, and as such hospitality businesses have had to rethink who their guests could be, the kind of experiences they want and how best to deliver them,” outlined Stefan Leser, CEO at Langham Hospitality Group. “With a lack of international travel there has been a need to leverage the ‘staycation’ trend and therefore attract a new segment of guests. Hoteliers have had to reposition based on their knowledge of these new clients to ensure that they are meeting expectations and capturing the business.”
As an example, whereas hotels such as those in the Langham Hospitality Group typically serve as a kind of springboard to explore the city or the local environment, domestic clients are looking more for what the hotel itself provides, so hoteliers have had to adjust to offer an array of local experiences, and help establish the hotel as a community hub. Technology must capture value proposition such as this against the customers’ expectations, in order to enable and increase consumption.
From a tech perspective, with all of the complexities and challenges of the current travel ecosystem, hoteliers around the world are looking for end-to-end tech solutions that remove the complexities and help maximise the opportunities available. “Advances in open-source technology and open APIs allow hoteliers to work in a smart, flexible and agile way, whilst automation capabilities and platform solutions capture and support guests’ needs, allow better integration and easier distribution and as such reduce costs while increasing consumption and revenue,” highlighted Frank Trampert, SVP and Global Managing Director Commercial at Sabre Hospitality Solutions.
With personalisation being the new expectation in so many industries, travel must deliver the same tailored approach, to further enhance the guest experience.Retailing within hospitality is no longer just attaching a rate to a room for a period of time, “it is much more about the value for each individual client, the connections with the guests, in a way and at a level we could never imagine before,” added Stefan Leser.
Research has shown that providing consumers with personalised offers translates to more purchases, so Sabre is innovating technology to help hoteliers to retail and fulfil personalised packages. “In addition to greater top-line revenue, the intelligent retailing approach Sabre Hospitality envisions yields other positive outcomes including higher guest satisfaction and guest retention, and strategic differentiation from competitors,” added Frank Trampert. “Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence help to identify the patterns that make recognition in the unique aspects of the traveller desire, and that’s why Sabre is partnering with Google to develop a radically modern way to help power the future of personalised travel.”
Sabre Travel AI is a first of its kind technology for the travel industry, capitalising on state-of-the art AI technology and advanced machine learning capabilities that sense, analyse and predict consumer behaviours – all fuelled by real-time marketplace data insights and sophisticated, travel-specific knowledge. This technology should be integrated into the Sabre Hospitality Solution’s SynXis platform in the first half of 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for a long-simmering change in the hospitality industry. “If there is one industry that is stress-resistant and that is able to pivot, then it is the hospitality industry,” ended Stefan Leser.
This piece is based on Frank Trampert and Stefan Leser’s Q&A at the ITB Berlin NOW Convention 2021.