Hotels must educate themselves

Hotels must educate themselves about technology to keep pace with tech-savvy guests and to stay ahead of competition.

Being more informed was not just a matter of staying ahead of the pack, but achieving better rates.

Emilio Galán, co-founder & CTO, Beonprice, a cloud-based solution using AI to help set rates, told us: “Hotels didn’t have enough data to make decisions. At the beginning we developed an innovative method to extract data about rates, revenues and we connected to the hotels’ systems. Now we collect more than 50 terabytes per day. We can recommend every five minutes if we wanted. We can predict and recommend for all kinds of rooms, all kinds of segments.”

Neville Isaac, director of customer experience at the group, added: “The more educated the consumer is, the better it is for the hotel. We don’t just pull pricing information, we also pull online reputation and establish how much someone is willing to pay. It sounds kind of obvious, but no-one else has done it. We have 350 parameters and add on the analysis of online reputation. The customer is more informed  - people take into account what other people say.”

He added: “We feel that revenue management is in its infancy but there are a lot more areas of the customer journey which revenue management can effect - pre-booking, post-booking.  The large multinational chains have optimised their spas, their golf courses, all aspects of the hotels, but the rest of hotels, the management discipline was not highly evolved and are learning how to take decisions on data, rather than instinct. They still need to optimise their rooms revenue before they can move onto anything else.”

Erik Meijer, SVP Europe MACH49, called for hotels to educate themselves about their communities and then use this information to improve customer experience and rates. Meijer said:  “There’s a digital side to real estate. You want to have information on your assets and what they’re doing and you want to be alive to non-scheduled events. If you don’t service these, you’re missing out, it’s a disconnect.

“You might have a night with a big football game on and you’re going to benefit from the bar and hotel revenues, but what if you’d got a few of the players in the ballroom for people to meet as well? You have to bridge these two landscapes. Not everybody should be on the mountain, just the sherpas. Not the support team. Not the people with the radios. You need to understand what you can do then send the team up the mountain. You need to put skin in the game and create that team.”

If hotels were not yet using the information at their disposal, there was the likelihood that owners were. Galán said: “There is an opportunity to talk to owners. We’ve had some conversations with the Reits who want to know how their hotels are being managed.”

Once on site, the hotels could look to guests to provide their own technology, but with proper support. Meijer said: “There are a lot of things in the front of house you can get rid of and a lot of services people bring themselves, like their own content, their own MacBook Pros. You are the same person with different needs. I am the person with three young children who is looking for a healthy meal at lunchtime, but I might also be looking to binge-watch at night.

“If you are in a hotel room you are a captive audience and you need to make it as pleasant as possible. So you provide high-end internet so that people can download their content quickly.”

Should hotels be looking to create this technologically-advanced environment themselves? No.  Isaac said: “I don’t think hotels should be techies, it’s nearly always better to have an expert and you don’t want to have to worry about having to maintain a good tech team, it’s very expensive. A hotel’s job is to produce good services for their guests.”

Meijer concurred: “Would you rather have all your executives on the mountain or the sherpas who have already been there?”