Nearly half of all online hotel bookings worldwide are preceded by a click on a mobile device. 94% of travellers utilise a combination of mobile, tablet, and desktop when planning their trips. The most astounding fact of all is nearly 80% of last-minute bookings are done via mobile1. It is therefore inevitable for hotels to adopt a mobile-first, cloud-first approach.
We are already living in a mobile-first world
We as consumers were doing just fine waiting 10 minutes or more for a taxi to come. We spent weeks, even months, waiting for our packages to arrive at our doorsteps. And we were certainly okay with staring off into space while the receptionists verifying our reservations information and then handing us a metal key to our room.
Today, modern consumers expect convenience. They want to be able to order a midnight snack online. They want to receive a personalised alert about upcoming events and promotional offers. They want to receive the package they just ordered today.
A whopping 92% of respondents in the Zebra Technologies' 2016 Hospitality Vision Study2 carry a smartphone. 70% of the guests further indicated that they want to make use of the available technologies to speed up the process of getting the things that they desire.
40% of travel bookings from the Asia Pacific region, the world's largest travel market, are generated online. This robust market is estimated to grow to $500 billion in 2021. Notably, only 25% of Asian travellers choose to book directly with hotels3. The majority favours booking via OTAs.
The good news is they are willing to help hoteliers achieve their goals of “completely personalising guest experience”. 75% of respondents from the same Zebra Technologies Study are willing to share their gender and age information, and email addresses in exchange for tailored perks - discounts at their favourite restaurants, priority services, or other special promotions.
Also noted in the study, Millennials are more comfortable to share their social media profiles and allow the hotels to track their locations. In return, hotel managers must ensure that all privacy policies are acted upon, compliance verified, and continuously update the consumers on which data they would like to share.
The future of the hospitality industry is in the cloud
By 2020, there will be more than 20.4 billion devices connected to the cloud. Both consumers and businesses have been using some forms of the cloud for a while and still be unaware of it.
The hospitality industry may not be among the early adopters of cloud computing but it certainly will be greatly benefited from the advancements that this technology brings.
The budget for IT spending on hospitality has been low. Nevertheless, various internationally recognised brands are starting to invest in building their very own mobile applications or self-checking kiosks.
According to a Grant Thornton study, guestroom technology, connectivity, property management software (PMS), payment security, and point-of-sale system are among the top 5 spending hotels made on technologies4.
In all five, PMS is the backbone of hotel operations. The software is not only capable of managing reservations and booking or housekeeping services. Modern PMS today empowers the front office staff as well as the management to gather business intelligence and to analyse insights in a near real-time manner.
Today, in order for hotels to thrive, the cloud is no longer a "strategic priority" but rather a "now standard operating procedure". Many hotels have been using the same legacy systems for years and they are hesitating as to why they should transition to the cloud. One major benefit that the cloud has to offer is flexibility.
On-premises PMS is static, limiting the hotels' capabilities to scale when necessary. In the event the business only uses a portion of functions within a specific timeframe, they still have to pay the price for the upgrades in its entirety. The cloud allows businesses to scale instantly, whenever and wherever they see fit. Additionally, accessing the cloud is accessing to the pool of endless innovative technology available.
Any new innovation, whether it is a product, a type of service, a business model, or an experience, will certainly affect and eventually change consumer expectations. It is therefore crucial to be aware of the next wave of disruptive technologies in order to be ahead of the curve.
1. Starkov, Max, "The mobile-first world holds tremendous revenue potential for hoteliers - here's why", PhocusWire, February 20, 2019, https://www.phocuswire.com/mobile-revenue-potential-for-hotels
2. Zebra Technologies, “HIGH TECH FOR HIGH TOUCH: 2016 Hospitality Vision Study”, Zebra Technologies, 2016, https://www.zebra.com/content/dam/zebra_new_ia/en-us/solutions-verticals/vertical-solutions/hospitality/white-papers/hospitality-vision-study-2016-en-us.pdf
3. Criteo, Euromonitor International, “THE NEW DIGITAL TRAVELER: Your Guide to Winning More Buyers and Bookings in Asia-Pacific", Criteo, February 2017, https://www.criteo.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/New-Digital-Traveler-EN.pdf
4. Grant Thornton, “Emerging clouds in hotel technology: Spotlight on cloud-based PMS", Grant Thornton, 2018, https://www.grantthornton.co.uk/globalassets/1.-member-firms/united-kingdom/pdf/publication/2016/emerging-clouds-in-hotel-technology.pdf