Getting to grips with technology is no easy task and often by the time you have managed to catch up, it races ahead again. No industry better illustrates this continual battle than hospitality.
Whether it is online review sites, mobile check-ins, internal revenue systems, GDS, social networking or gaming, there really is nowhere to hide for the hotelier.
With this in mind, Arabian Travel Market has made technology a major focus for this year’s instalment of the show — dedicating a whole theatre to the topic with a packed schedule of seminars and talks from tech experts.
Hotelier caught up with some of the technology leaders to find out how hoteliers can overcome the many challenges the sector presents and how to embrace the multitude of opportunities it offers.
What became immediately clear is that many companies have stood still while the environment in which they operate has moved on.
CEO of Evision Worldwide, Vikram Singh, who is heading the ‘Developing Your Hotel’s Online Revenue Optimisation Strategy’ session at ATM, believes hotels are “usually focused on the wrong things, putting short-term gains ahead of long-term strategy”.
“Guests are getting smarter about researching and buying travel, but hotels are not keeping up (Expedia is). Hotels need to stay educated on how the online travel industry and their own guests are evolving. If they can’t do this, getting direct bookings will become more difficult,” he asserts.
“Also, there are still a lot of hotel e-commerce managers that don’t pay enough attention to their own website stats — basic information that will help them determine their marketing performance, growth potential and new/emerging markets such as distribution and geographical markets.”
Singh believes that not enough effort is being made to understand how online marketing works, adding that North America has been online marketing for more than six years, but the companies there are still doing the same things they did six years ago, while consumers have changed their buying habits.
Considering he has worked with one client who saw an 800% increase in revenue, because he had been previously doing “the wrong things for a very long time”, it is clear those not paying attention need to be taking a closer look at online.
“Their understanding of search engines, social media and OTAs (online travel agencies) is flawed to a point where channels that should work closely together are being managed by different departments or vendors,” he continues.
“Hotels basically made the decision to give up 20% to 30% to OTAs instead of doing the work themselves. This mentality is what opened the doors for a wealth of companies to come in and grab a big slice of the travel industry pie — and it’s not just the OTAs.”
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