Hotel chains are nearly twice as likely as small independent properties to prioritize technology investment, while small independent properties are 1.5 times as likely as chain hotels to prioritize room renovations—indicating a gap in technology investment strategies among different hotelier segments, according to a new survey of more than 1,200 hoteliers by the Expedia Group.
Reliance on technology is becoming increasingly important in the lodging industry as hotels begin to recognize how they can gain a competitive advantage with strategic technology investments, according to Expedia.
However, cost continues to be the key barrier with technology adoption for many hoteliers, with nearly half of the small independent hotels surveyed indicating that technology investment decisions are based on affordability and value. In contrast, more than half of the chain hotels prioritize technology that seamlessly integrates with their existing systems.
"We're witnessing chain hotels place significant investments in technology, which opens the potential for a greater divide between properties that are not able to match those investments," Expedia Group SVP Ait Voncke said in a statement. "Technology has the power to level the playing field for hoteliers of all sizes."
Among the small independent hotels surveyed, 1 in 4 cited complexity as their biggest challenge when adopting technology, with 1 in 3 saying ease of use is a priority when evaluating solutions.
The study polled 1,215 global hotelier participants in July 2019 for a choice-based study to determine how hotel properties are prioritizing their technology investment spend. The study leveraged Expedia Group's global hotelier panel in order to compare technology spending between chain hotels and small independent properties. Chain hotels are classified as properties self-selected as part of a chain affiliation or group of properties with more than 100 rooms, while small independent properties are classified as properties with no chain affiliation and 100 rooms or fewer.
Earlier this year, another study, conducted by Scotland-based hospitality firm Criton, highlighted that guest smartphones now are recognized as an essential tool for delivering and improving their travel experience. With 45 percent of respondents traveling for leisure more than four times a year, the survey showed that 62 percent of respondents regularly use an accommodation app, with the figure increasing to 67 percent among business travelers.
If their favorite hotel was to have its own app, 74 percent of respondents overwhelmingly stated they would use this digital channel, with only 10 percent favoring an in-room device such as a hotel's smartphone or tablet. This reinforces Criton's core belief that the future of hotel technology is guests' own devices, the company reported. Hoteliers no longer need to absorb the cost of installing in-room devices when their guests travel with their own smartphone and are more comfortable with the apps and content within it.