With the impact the last two years has had on us all – as people, professionals and guests – it’s no wonder technology investment will be really important in 2022. The collective pushback and need for a more satisfying existence means that most businesses providing a product or service will need to truly tune in to their customers’ needs. The hotel industry is no different. Making your guests’ experience as quick, pain-free, pleasant and easy as possible will not only be achieved through technology, but technology will play a huge part in things. Your technology needs to support the human aspect of your business. It should take pressure off your staff while providing convenience for your guests. That’s why investment in this area will be crucial in 2022 and beyond.
Here are some areas of technology you should consider investing in going forward.
Investing in… your booking engine
Your booking engine needs to be easy to navigate in a way that will lead users to convert without them needing to put too much thought into the process. It’s important that it integrates well with all of your other systems (like your PMS, RMS and Channel Manager) and it should work well with your workflows and marketing processes.
An impressive booking engine has to be flexible. This is because it should adapt easily to the growth or development of your products/services and should always display whatever it is you have to offer. Speaking of offers, what kind of groups does your hotel provide for? Perhaps you are a hotel venue, perhaps you tend to get a lot of corporate bookings. Your booking engine should have a variety of modules! And you don’t just want it to display the basics – your rates and dates are the bare minimum of what should be shown off. Your booking engine should allow for lots of visual support to these rates and dates. We are visual creatures! Visuals are what will help get your room over the line and get it sold to your guest. Make sure your booking engine also gives you the option to integrate sales conversion tools as they will help maximize the number of website visitors turning into buyers.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again… it also needs to be mobile-optimised! Mobile accounts for approximately half of web traffic worldwide. Its presence in revenue reports is only growing all the time as people get more and more comfortable with browsing and actually buying or booking on mobile. 77% of people booking hotels now view hotels on mobile!
Investing in… accompanying systems
Your booking engine might be the heart of your tech stack, but like a human body, you need more than that to properly function. Ideally your booking engine is accompanied by your PMS, RMS and Channel Manager. When you’re going about picking each of these systems, work on the basis of finding the best of each.
A Property Management System is a system that should help you manage multiple aspects of your property. A Channel Manager is a system that sends your property availability to multiple channels, and keeps all the information in clear and correct between channels.
You should be able to sit down with your PMS provider to discuss and agree on rate strategies and business logics before you set up rate plans and connect to your channel manager. Your booking engine should connect directly to your PMS or your channel manager should be flexible enough to easily adjust rate mapping.
Automation and personalisation are words that have been thrown around for a long time now, but they’re key concepts going forward within the hospitality industry. If you can automate as many tasks as possible for your front desk staff, it frees up more room for them to provide a personal and attentive experience with your guests – a win win. Your technology should aid you in this. In relation to personalisation, people appreciate a personal touch. They always have – but now more than ever. With the right technology in relation to your email marketing efforts for example, you will be able to segment your contacts and nurture relationships in a more personal way, which just gives your guests the impression you’re not only on the ball but you care about their needs too. Email is also a great way to organise your guest data and put it to good use, something that is becoming more difficult since the recent change in relation to cookieless tracking.
Investing in… smart technology
Smart hotels are on the rise! Of course it makes sense that a world full of smartphone users, Netflix watchers, Nespresso machine drinkers and Siri listeners would come to expect a hotel that provided a ‘smart’ experience. Becoming more of a smart hotel will allow you to offer more of a unique experience to your guests. What does it mean it practise? It could mean giving guests control over certain things by using their mobiles, like check in/check out, the lighting and temperature in their rooms. As well as saving energy costs, it makes things so much easier for everyone! Utilising mobile as much as you can is also a smart decision given the huge growth we have seen and will continue to see in mobile.
Investing in… Google Hotel Ads
Google Hotel Ads is a meta-search platform which displays your hotel rates in direct comparison to OTAs, enabling you to showcase your hotel on Google across multiple devices.
In March 2021, Google eliminated fees for hotel booking links in order to make the booking process easier and more comprehensive for consumers. The free booking links extend the reach of Hotel Ads campaigns. Throughout 2021, we noted amazing performance in relation to Google Hotel Ads campaigns (comparing performance to May 2019, revenue increased by 42% and CPA improved by 63%).
Using Google Hotel Ads will result in an increase in your direct traffic and revenue! It will also allow you to own your guest data while sustaining a future relationship with guests – like we mentioned earlier, owning guest data is crucial to building loyalty.
Investing in… chatbots
Chatbots are great for convenience – where you’re concerned and also for your guests. They absolutely have their place as part of your communication strategy (they don’t work for everything) but when used correctly, they can be beneficial and efficient by saving time. Whether it’s addressing queries immediately from customers in different time zones or answering a regular query you find you receive quite a lot, they can do the groundwork with a customer and can then pass them on to your staff members at a later stage if necessary, depending on whatever the query was. Well worth looking into.