Hotel technologies are advancing at lightning speed. It can be hard to stay smart and keep current on the latest innovations. Following are just a few takeaways from the latest Starfleet Research studies, involving more than 450 hotel executives, managers and staff, that hotel owners and operators should keep in mind as they ponder the future of technology-enabled business improvement in the context of their own properties.
1. A next-generation hotel property management system (PMS) can deliver significant cost savings and revenue growth almost immediately. According to the latest research, the positive impact of a next-generation PMS on hotel operations, guest satisfaction and employee satisfaction should be apparent right out of the gate. Streamlining operations across the organization and providing better management controls should lead to increased staff efficiency, with less time spent attending to mundane activities like data entry and reconciliation. This efficiency should translate into a reduction in operational costs, including lower IT maintenance overhead. Enhancing guest relationship management capabilities should improve guest satisfaction, loyalty and retention. These improvements should reflect in guest satisfaction surveys as well as the all-important guest reviews in social media, leading to more repeat guest stays — and, ultimately, increased RevPAR and profitability. Better data integration and accuracy should improve revenue management. The ability to automatically synchronize inventory and rates across all sales channels should also improve revenue results. Robust data analysis and diagnostic tools for identifying emerging market trends, analyzing guest behaviors, etc., should generate actionable insights that drive further improvements in financial performance. Read the full report.
2. Advanced business intelligence (BI) tools make it possible to achieving faster and better access to critical information and insights. Revenue managers are among those getting the most use of these solutions and deriving the greatest benefit, but they are not the only ones. By being able to visually explore, prepare and transform data into personalized performance dashboards and customized reports, users can get the answers they need at a glance and make smart, timely pricing and distribution decisions. In fact, the best of the new breed of hotel BI solutions seamlessly integrate with the hotel’s existing revenue management platform. In many ways, the two solutions are two sides of the same coin; both are needed to progressively increase RevPAR through profit optimization. Business intelligence can also inform the decisions also made in multiple other departments and functions across the organization. The insights can have benefits ranging from improving marketing, sales and customer service effectiveness to generating competitive intelligence. Read the full report.
3. Targeted personalization is key to enhancing the guest experience. The future success of many hotels and resorts, at least those operating in certain categories where service quality ranks as a key point of competitive differentiation, will rest squarely on how well they can gain a deep understanding of their guests on an individual basis. Importantly, success also rests on how well they can act upon that understanding to improve the overall quality of the guest experience. According to the research, 89 percent of hoteliers “agree” or “strongly agree” that targeted personalization – i.e., presenting guests with highly relevant messages, offers and services at the right time – is one of the most effective ways to improve the guest experience and, ultimately, guest satisfaction, loyalty and favorable brand advocacy. Guest personalization is about data. It is a function of capturing and leveraging a vast ocean of guest profile information. Ideally, this information should include hundreds or thousands of data points gleaned about a guest’s activities, from hotel booking to hotel checkout and everything in between. Read the full report.
4. Artificial intelligence (AI) is fast becoming a requisite component of guest relationship management. While it’s still early in the game, AI-enabled devices are already proving out their value in hotel settings in ways that would have been all but unimaginable only a few years ago, they will assume a greater share of responsibilities. This is particularly true in the area of hotel guest services. By being able to respond to guest inquiries far faster than their mere mortal service rep counterparts — and by being able to field any number of inquiries simultaneously, with virtually no capacity constraints — the devices are shortening guest wait times in very significant ways while providing immediate access to information and services. Faster service response time and faster problem resolution time are, of course, top drivers of overall guest satisfaction. Having the ability to improve guest satisfaction by even a few percentage points may be reason enough for any hotelier to embrace the promise of AI-enabled guest response systems. According to the latest research, artificial intelligence has been shown to dramatically reduce the need for human assistance when it comes to answering questions (owing to a vast repository of information, both internal and external, at their digital fingertips) and resolving problems that commonly arise during a guest stay. Read the full report.