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Technology: Maximising hotel revenues

Derek Issacs, March 3rd, 2019

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.

According to Moulin from The Ritz-Carlton RAK, data analysis is the most efficient way to improve and offer curated experiences. “By analysing information from a guest stay, for example, preferences, consumption, likes, dislikes, and even hobbies give the hotels the opportunities to adjust menus, create unique events and offer bespoke experiences based on the data insights,” he says.

One type of technology that, according to Aksoy, is helping to boost revenues is cold air diffusion systems. Within our group the way we are connected to business as a hygiene solution supplier company is that  we  make guests feel safe and at home. It is about experience, “he says.

Aksoy explains how that guests expectations that their room will be clean is a given. “Guests still use their senses, such as smell, to check the room's level of cleanliness. So, we realised we should go into fragrances to boost the customer’s perception of cleanliness.”

Scent diffuser machines adopts cold two-fluid atomisation technology, whereby the high-speed collision of cold air hits aroma oil into nanoscale mist. The machine sprays the mist out of the atomizer, and the scent flows through the air.

Aksoy explains how the fragrances can create experiences, and how it can be benchmarked for a brand so such a smell is recognised by customers or guests and related to the brand.

“Think about how many guests sit in a hotel lobby talking for hours without buying any food or beverage. But use a scent diffuser that sends out an aroma of coffee and then the guest is thinking ‘I want coffee and doughnuts,’” he says.

“This is how Baskin Robbins increased their revenues by 16% in the United States,” he adds. 

Chameleon  explains how the hospitality industry is known as a highly customer-centered business and accumulates large amounts of customer data from central reservation systems (CRS), property management system (PMS), point-of-sale (POS), and guest loyalty program databases.

“Therefore, data mining application can play a huge role in the hospitality industry by assisting managers formulate marketing strategies, enhance guest experiences, increase retention and loyalty and ultimately, maximize profits,” he says.

Data mining and analytics – techniques for exploration and analysis of large quantities of data in order to discover meaningful patterns, trends and rules – helps hotels sift through massive data sets for meaningful relationships, where they can anticipate, rather than simply react to, customer needs. "However, simply investing in data-mining technology may not guarantee success," says Chamelon.

Moulin agrees that data analysis is the most efficient way to improve and offer curated experiences. "By analyzing information from the guest stay, for example, preferences, consumption, likes, dislikes, and even hobbies give the hotels the opportunities to adjust menus, create unique events and offer bespoke experiences based on the data insights.," he says.

He also points out how data analysis also helps to improve service and quality by analyzing issues that might happen and that could be prevented from happening to future guests.

Moulin recognises that the key for driving business is technology, which he says  is constantly changing, "Hoteliers need to keep in mind that the future of search is the voice," he says.

"Within the next couple of years, 50% of global online searching is going to be voice search with tools such as mobile phones, in-home devices like Google Assistant and Amazon Echo."