Technology driving innovation in the hotel industry
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Technology driving innovation in the hotel industry

The hotel industry has definitely moved with the times. From 24 hour service to multi-level complexes with gyms and spas, hotels cater for a variety of needs and audiences.

Not only has the hospitality industry kept up with the times, but it’s learning to embrace technology as a key component of hotel success! Technology is a part of our daily lives and this is true for the hotel industry as well – most hotels have websites, online booking systems, and technology-based management systems.

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At this year’s HICA (Hotel Investment Conference Africa), held this month in Durban, one of the panel discussions was titled “Technology as the driver of change and innovation in the hotel industry”. Invited to speak on the panel, Ray Deftereos, CEO of Hospitality Technology International (HTI), is quick to point out the advantages and impact of a technology like cloud computing for the hotel industry.

Hospitality systems go hi-tech

HTI builds specialised management systems for the hospitality industry and, according to Ray, its soon-to-be-released new central reservations and PMS facilities will be cloud-based. So what is cloud computing?

Simply put, it’s a system for storing data in one place and accessing it in another. Cloud computing occurs when organisations buy large blocks of time on mainframe computers which they access via ‘dumb terminals’ that have no storage capacity but are close at hand.

A good example is Facebook – a personal database for its users that, in Ray’s words, have “traded their privacy for functionality.” For Ray and others in the hospitality industry, technology is a powerful tool that can be about much more than accessing a website or ‘liking’ a post.

Technology for customer engagement

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Technology can be used for real customer engagement – with customers who are accustomed to the online space, to gathering and sharing information, and conducting online transactions, like bookings. As Ray points out:

If you’re stuck at an airport because your flight’s delayed, and suddenly you have to find accommodation for the night, you no longer think about calling the office or your travel agent and asking them to make your bookings for you – you use the device in your hand to access a cloud service that’ll do it.

And, as demand and resources grow, so will the industries that have adapted to using them. To see just how hotels can benefit from embracing new technologies, Calum McIndoe, Director of Sales UK & Ireland at Infor Hospitality Solutions, suggests that the hospitality industry takes note of six key technology trends.

Technology trends

Cloud Services: As described above, cloud computing allows for the management and access of data off-site. This means no expensive on-site infrastructure, set-up costs, or internal IT team. The result? More time to focus on providing guests with great service, while ensuring relevant data is regularly updated, safely stored, and shared among different teams easily and quickly.

Mobility: From mobile phones to tablets, the ability to check in online has changed the way hotels interact with clients. Mobile data management replaces manual registration systems, reduces the size of the check-in desk, and allows hotel staff to interact with guests at any convenient time or location. This means the possibility of ‘meeting and greeting’ them before they even arrive at the hotel and even ensuring that personal preferences are recorded and implemented ahead of arrival time.

Social media: Sites such as Facebook and TripAdvisor have had a massive impact on the hospitality industry, affecting the public image and reputation of a property. Hotels that monitor and manage their online profiles are able to reach out to clients in their online space and deal with questions or complaints quickly and on a public platform. Social media is here to stay and hotels that embrace this way of interaction will find a whole new area in which to manage hotel/client relationships.

Globalisation: As international trade and travel expand, international links will become more important for the hotel industry. This means that the technology systems in use must account for the global perspective, in everything from different language options to different working regulations across borders.

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Change is good

Hospitality doesn’t have to be old school! Technology has brought about significant changes in the hotel industry and will continue to drive change and innovation in this space, from the hotel floor to the corporate boardroom.

Hotels that embrace technology will definitely gain a competitive edge in this rapidly changing world.

 

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Technology driving innovation in the hotel industry