The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert

A positive experience for a hotel guest travels a long way, in more ways than  one.

A satisfied guest is more likely to return to  the property.   Not only that, satisfied guests will spread the word among their friends.

Today, the power behind word-of-mouth has been amplified by social media channels, which spreads information far and wide, including the reputation of hotels.

For Alp K. Aksoy, director, Hospitality, META global accounts at Diversy, social media is one obvious answer when thinking about how technology can help hotels drive revenues.

“The way we communicate through social media is dynamic and far reaching,” he says.  “But it has its pluses and minuses. Social media makes it easier to capture guests, but it also makes it easier to lose guests.”

Aksoy believes that technology has a great deal of impact on revenue. “Not always in the sense of attracting customers, but technology can be used to maintain revenue too. But if we are to talk about driving revenues then it has to be social media and databases.”

Aksoy says loyalty programmes are big revenue drivers, adding that such programmes hold all guest data, such as guests’ likes: room type, hard or soft pillow, high or low floor.

“When hotel chains buy other hotels, the size of a hotel’s loyalty programme is a very big deciding factor in deciiding to go through with a deal. Guest data can be used to customise specific programs for that guest so they feel they belong to your brand.”

Cristiano Moulin, director of Marketing & Communications, The Ritz-Carlton RAK, Al Wadi Desert and Al Hamra Beach, says travellers' profile have changed in the past years.

“We see more individual travellers eager to explore and experience the destination more than stay inside the hotels. Technology is playing a massive role in helping hoteliers to drive as much revenue as possible, even prior to the guests’ arrival.”

“Travellers now have much greater visibility of their choices across different channels like prices, the feedback and experiences of other guests, availability and offerings. Customer engagement has become more and more powerful and decision-making from a guest point of view,” he says.

Serge Chameleon, managing partner of H-Hotelier, a services provider of technology software for hotel, business intelligence and revenue management and pricing, distributions, says that technology today is affecting consumers’ choices and behaviours in different ways, specifically in the hospitality industry.

“The hospitality industry has to keep up with technology in order to remain successful, by investing in innovative technologies that increase efficiency and reduce costs, to give a return on investment.

The kind of technologies that Chameleon says can positively affect the hospitality industry, include: Beacon technology, which can drive revenues indirectly through a push notification service.  A guest walking through the lobby can receive notifications on promotions happening in the hotel. This can also happen on the way to the hotel from the airport.

There is also mobile technology. “Hilton launched their e-concierge on mobile,” says Chameleon.  Artificial Intelligence can be used in smart pricing.  “Software as a Service (SaaS) is becoming widespread,” he says. “Using this service means, a single monthly fee is paid monthly, which includes licensing, maintenance and hosting. Previously, users had to buy a license and pay maintenance fees,” he says.  “Such software can help drive revenues by selling rooms at a better price and rate.”

Data mining and analytics can be used to increase revenues. For example, in a hotel restaurant the POS data is stored on a server. “You just have to know how to use it and set strategies. Through analysing data, you could, for example, see that every Tuesday between 2-3 pm the sale of burgers is high. With that information, strategies could be introduced that could add more value that ultimately increase revenues,” he says.

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